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Around the world in 275 days

   
 


The Pagé family poses in  Chittorgarh. From left to right; Laura, children and Reymond. They ended up in Chittorgarh by accident; originally they planned to head to Udaipur, but discovered too late that they needed to purchase an additional ticket to take them the rest of the way.

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Pagé’s portrait of  “Cinnamon Man” in water-soluble graphite on hardboard.  “Cinnamon man probably wants for a lot of things, but the expression when I took his picture was so powerful,” Pagé says. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more content look on anyone.”

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Reymond Pagé attributes inspiration for this acrylic painting, “The Rainbow,” to the attire of the women of India, who wore colourful clothing regardless of what they were doing – from washing clothes in canals to shopping.

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October 19, 2010
-Deborah Froese

Winnipeg, Man. — For Reymond Pagé, spending 275 days travelling the world with his family was a bonding experience, but it also inspired an art exhibit currently on display at the Mennonite Heritage Centre Gallery (MHCG), a ministry of Mennonite Church Canada.

From July 2007 until May 2008, artist Pagé toured the world with his partner Laura Peters and their two sons.  They began in Italy and worked their way through the Middle East, India and Southeast Asia. In Italy, Greece and Turkey, they lived in rented apartment spaces and connected with area locals through everyday endeavours like shopping for groceries or taking morning walks. 

“We relaxed and enjoyed the experience more than we would have as tourists,” Pagé says.

At his address for the Sept. 24 opening of the exhibit, entitled 275 days, Pagé referred to his family. “We were there for each other for everything, 24 hours a day… This is a Celebration of culture, travel, family life.”

Pagé says that before the trip, he primarily worked in pencil.  But the exhibit displays a variety of mediums, from graphite to charcoal, coloured pencil, water colour and oil, inspired by the many thousands of images Pagé collected on the journey.  “I took over 20,000 photos and came home with just over 14,000 pictures and short videos.  Every night I wrote and culled.”

His art techniques have diversified as well. “I do different kinds of paintings now than I did before I left…I never would have done those kinds of abstract paintings [before].”

Although both Pagé and Peters were keen to travel, it took time to plan their trip and make arrangements for Peters to defer her teacher’s salary so that she could take a temporary leave. Pagé and Peters first met with a travel agent in March 2006, but Pagé spent more than 15 months and countless hours pouring over Lonely Planet travel guides, National Geographic and other information to pull together an itinerary that suited the family’s requirements and expectations.

“I had to be prepared mentally,” Pagé says. “I had to understand what we were getting ourselves into.” He says that it wasn’t until they were on the plane leaving Winnipeg that the reality of what they were doing set in. By that time, he was ready.

Pagé points out that for their two sons, who were about 10 and 12 years old respectively at the time, almost one year of travelling formed a significant part of their lives.  By the end of the trip, one some seemed like a seasoned traveller. “He’d wake up each day and say ‘what’s next?’” While travelling, the other son was inspired to learn about web design – and he created his father’s website at http://members.shaw.ca/aliveart/index.html.

The Pagé family travelled with little more than a backpack apiece and the clothing on their backs.  “We’ll go to our neighbour’s cottage for five days or a week and take more stuff,” Pagé notes.

They met many people along the way whose personal possessions were less than what they carried in their packs.   “You leave behind a lot of preconceptions about what you need to get by.  We don’t really need a whole lot.” 

Pagé admits that recognizing what he could do without was one of the most important things he learned on the journey, along with “taking time to slow down and recognize what’s important.”  He says he was intrigued by “men my age having coffee in the middle of the afternoon.  You begin to realize that it’s the way it should be, to have time to enjoy [life]….You have to do your best to make time for what’s important.”

275 Days is on display at the Mennonite Heritage Centre Gallery, 600 Shaftesbury Blvd., Winnipeg Man. until Nov. 13. Find out more at http://www.mennonitechurch.ca/tiny/1414.