In the course of my day job, I am sometimes required to travel to different parts of the world. Recently, I spent a working week in the capital of Chile for round 2 of the 2019-20 ABB FIA Formula E Championship.
As leader of the Design Team, I am ultimately responsible for developing the visual identity of the races and the look and feel of the event. In Santiago, I took advantage of the sunny climate and made use of my treasured Fujica 35mm stills camera.
I like experimenting with film, such as creating double exposures by shooting the roll, then manually rewinding it back and shooting it again. I love the unpredictability of the process. The happy accidents. Not really knowing what you’re going to get until the film comes back from the lab.
I deployed this approach as I wandered around the event and was particularly taken by a display of stunt cyclists risking life and limb in the intense afternoon heat. Witnessing the riders speeding down steep ramps then up again, thrillingly twisting in the air as they cleared the highest edge.
On Sunday, our final morning and off duty at the end of a long and busy week, a few of us decided to visit one of Chile’s most famous landmarks: Santuario de la Inmaculada Concepción at Cerro San Cristóbal – a 70 foot statue of the Virgin Mary which stands at one of the highest points in Santiago, from which spectacular panoramic views of the city can be observed.
We reached the summit of San Cristóbal via a charming funicular railway and disembarked near the peak, ascending the final hundred yards on foot.
Arriving at the amphitheatre, which sits at the base of the monument, we were embraced by the heart-lifting sound of an angelic singing female voice accompanied by delicate acoustic guitar, evidently piped in from the service taking place in the local chapel.
It was then, when I saw the magnificent statue, that the tears began to flow. Now emotionally drained and consumed with melancholy, I felt the need to take a step back and regain my composure away from my colleagues.
In the course of our lengthy preparation for the Santiago E-Prix, we created a graphic representation of the statue to use as a symbol of the city in our race marketing. Maybe seeing this imposing structure in real life, away from my desktop in Hammersmith, represented the release from months of committed creativity. Perhaps this was the sight that melted my reserve.
I have subsequently learned that Cerro San Cristóbal stands amongst ancient, sacred land used by indigenous communities as a place of worship long before Spanish conquistadors colonized Chile in the 16thcentury. I can only wonder what those old ghosts would have made of my 21st century existential carry on.