Joan Athey of Victoria is taking late photographer Gerry Dieter’s 1969 images of the John Lennon and Yoko Ono bed-in for peace to Japan this week to launch an exhibit entitled Give Peace a Chance. Arnold Lim/Black Press

Late Victoria photographer’s Lennon bed-in pictures heading to Japan

Exhibit curator Joan Athey taking iconic images to busy section of Tokyo

Late photographer Gerry Dieter was rather modest about the pictures he took of The Beatles’ John Lennon and wife Yoko Ono during their bed-in for peace in Montreal in 1969.

The now-defunct Life Magazine, which assigned Dieter to shoot that event – it ultimately gained mythic status in the years since – bumped the photo feature for coverage of the escalating Vietnam War. The photographer kept the negatives and they sat stored away for decades.

Fast forward to 2004. Dieter had moved to Victoria previously and befriended Joan Athey through their shared love for music at Swans Pub. Athey gained a sense of how much the photographs meant to the lensman and helped him mount an exhibit that year.

“They’d really become a part of his soul and he didn’t want to let go of them,” she said. “He had also fallen on hard times and didn’t have the kind of income he might have otherwise.”

An employee of CBC at the time, Athey also had a pretty good idea of the value of the photos. She encouraged him to share them further with the public, especially given that the message of the bed-in was about peace, a subject near to Dieter’s heart.

The photographer died in Victoria on Dec. 9, 2005, one day after taking part in a spirited tribute to Lennon on the 35th anniversary of his death, at the Royal B.C. Museum.

This week Athey, who purchased the collection after Dieter died, is in Japan to help kick off the Give Peace a Chance exhibit of his photos, honouring a longtime wish of his. People in that country still revere The Beatles and appreciate Lennon’s efforts to bring about world peace.

“I am just thrilled that there is a place now where, for at least a few weeks, people can go and experience the love, the optimism, the vulnerability and in their hearts feel a little peace,” Athey said of the photos and the story they tell of Lennon and Ono’s relationship.

The exhibit will be displayed in the high-profile Space Hachikai gallery area at Tower Records near the busy Shibuya Station in Tokyo. It includes a virtual reality aspect that allows viewers to experience the viewpoint of John and Yoko in bed, and Athey also has one of Dieter’s cameras she believes took most of the images from the bed-in.

Show co-producer Kozu Fukuoka, an acclaimed photographer himself, said in a release that the Shibuya area is popular with young people, which means even more people will see the images and the message they inspire.

“We hope this exhibition will inspire the younger generation to think about peace and love,” he said. “The images appeal to everyone, not just Beatles fans.”

As for Athey, she doesn’t claim to have the recipe for bringing about world peace, but she’s willing to see what happens when her friend’s photo story of eight days in the Queen Elizabeth Hotel is told to a whole new generation.

Give Peace a Chance, not coincidentally, opens Dec. 8 and runs through Jan. 8.

editor@vicnews.com

Photography

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Saanich woman says sexual assault was dismissed by police because of her ‘body language’

Patrol officers investigate sexual assault files, make decisions on what goes to Crown counsel

‘Tarantula moth’ spotted in broad daylight in Victoria

Polyphemus moths are one of the largest insects in B.C.

Sooke RCMP seek video after tires slashed on five vehicles

10 tires damaged in overnight incident in Sooke

B.C. Supreme Court dismisses claim against Island Corridor Foundation

Snaw-Naw-As (Nanoose) First Nation was seeking return of reserve land as railway sits unused

Langford approves permit for 124-unit mass timber building

Tallwood 1 to be completed by late 2021

All community COVID-19 outbreaks declared over in B.C.

Abbotsford manufacturer cleared by Dr. Bonnie Henry

B.C. First Nations vow to keep fighting after Trans Mountain pipeline appeal denied

Squamish Nation, Tsleil-Waututh Nation and Coldwater Indian Band made the application

‘Queue jumpers’ not welcome in B.C. as COVID-19 U.S. cases rise: Horgan

Premier Horgan said he’s heard concerns that Americans have stopped at Vancouver hotels instead of heading to their destination

Playing his tune

Musician Daniel Morel breaks out a tune with his harmonica in front… Continue reading

US officer resigns after photos, connected to death of black man in 2019, surface

Elijah McClain died, last summer, after police placed him in a chokehold

Black worker files discrimination complaint against Facebook

Oscar Veneszee, Jr. has worked as an operations program manager at Facebook since 2017

Nestle Canada selling bottled water business to local family-owned company

The Pure Life bottled water business is being sold to Ice River Springs

Major B.C. salmon farm tests new containment system to curb sea lice infestations

System “essentially eliminates” contact between wild and farmed fish stocks, says Cermaq

Most Read