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

Just Posted

Pet-A-Palooza a good reason to ‘pawse’ this weekend in Victoria

Puppies, goats, wiener dog races and more on the grounds of St. Ann’s Academy Aug. 18-19

B.C. declares state of emergency as more than 560 wildfires rage

This is only the fourth state of emergency ever issued during a fire season

13-year-old Langford boy missing

West Shore RCMP say Alex Meickle was likely headed to Tofino

Greater Victoria-based digital crisis line sees spike in chats

Service allows youth to chat with volunteers through instant messaging services, text message

Rollover crash in Colwood occurred after driver had epileptic seizure

Colwood Fire used the Jaws of Life to extricate two people inside the vehicle

Average Canadian family spends 43% of income on taxes: study

Fraser Institute’s consumer report shows taxes accounting for larger chunk of income each year

B.C. not prepared for a Humboldt Broncos bus crash, group says

An air ambulance advocacy group wants an overhaul of B.C.’s emergency medical system in rural regions

Liberals look at creating federal holiday to mark legacy of residential schools

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde said day to recognize painful legacy would boost understanding

Mounties deployed to help B.C. communities affected by wildfires

RCMP officers heading to places particularly within central, northern and southern B.C.

Interim GoFundMe payments approved in Humboldt Broncos crash

$50,000 to be given to each of the 13 survivors and each family of the 16 people who died

B.C. gangster charged after man allegedly beaten with a golf club

Langley man facing aggravated assault charge after incident allegedly involved golf club and machete

442 Squadron medevacs injured fisherman at Graham Island

442 Squadron medevacs injured fisherman at Graham Island

Are you Canada’s next Masterchef?

Home cooks looking to follow their cuisine dreams can apply now.

Regional climate adaptation agriculture testing to expand in B.C.

Ottawa funds farm projects to conserve water, remove invasive species

Most Read