The weather in London turned sticky this week and with the muggy heat comes my desire to escape to the sea. Serendipitously, the new issue of Sirene arrived, and I allowed it to gently draw me in over a cup of coffee – for as the brief editorial note states, ‘This is the sea, and it is summer: nothing else matters.’
In a new series of journal posts called ‘Attention’ we will focus on a single piece or feature in a magazine, that has grabbed our attention for whatever reason. In this case it’s ‘Valerie’s Blue World’, by Rossella Venturi.
The synopsis goes: ‘The ocean of the 60s / 70s was a mysterious and unknown place. Under the surface of the water, a universe was waiting to be explored, where Valerie and Ron Taylor were pioneers, whose dives and documentaries knew no boundaries.’ Intriguing!
I loved reading about this innovating woman who wasn’t afraid to stick bits of fish-flesh to her home-made steel shark suit, to find out whether their teeth would penetrate it. There was no commercially available scuba-diving equipment back then, they had no choice but to make their own equipment, including perspex casing for a 16mm film camera. Accompanied by those gorgeously blue-tinged images from the many underwater documentaries the couple shot, the short profile focuses on Valerie, adventurous, fearless, and ’beautiful as a Bond girl’. The piece is timely – it comes ahead of a new autobiography release, and biopic which will be directed by Sally Aitken.
Particularly fascinating was the fact that after seeing their immersive shark documentary, Peter Benchley wrote ‘Jaws’, and sent them the novel to see if it would be possible to film. They said yes, and went to Hollywood to help with filming. Afterward, though, they regretted that Spielberg’s film created a ‘psychosis of shark hunting’, and had to attend conferences to explain that the film was just fiction.
There are, of course, other great pieces in the magazine – and the paper remains that delightful mottled off-white as a result of the pulp being mixed with recycled algae. The magazine always seems to have the same cover, which sometimes passes me by without me realising there is a new issue, which is a shame as there are some real gems inside.
Editor-in-chief: Alberto Coretti
Art director: Sergio Juan
Buy a copy from the magCulture Shop