A Story from Mikael: Black Point Mercantile

Photographer Mikael Kennedy is one of my very good and very talented friends. We've had many a conversation about creative projects, personal growth, success and celebrating creative talent amongst a group of friends. His work, which often leads to an abundance of travel, has always inspired me especially when you're able to see the end result of a specific trip. Mikael and I had a few conversations about working together properly this year, so there's more to come. For now, here's a story about his recent trip to Portland Maine and his visit to the workshop of Black Point Mercantile, run by Jeremy Bennett.

"We shook hands as I went on my way and he kept sewing, it would be years before our paths crossed again."

Story & Photography by Mikael Kennedy

To Jeremy Bennett, Black Point Mercantile & Mikael Kennedy

Black Point Mercantile
Mikael Kennedy

I met Jeremy Bennett of Black Point Mercantile almost 5 years ago when I was up in Portland, Maine shooting for the cult menswear brand Rogues Gallery (sadly now defunct). I was being given a tour of the workshop and briefly was introduced to a young man hunched over an industrial sewing machine surrounded by piles of old sail cloth, Pendleton scraps and old thread bare killim rugs. Jeremy hand made almost every single bag put out by Rogues Gallery during their reign, many of which I had admired over the years for their uniquesness and durability. We shook hands as I went on my way and he kept sewing, it would be years before our paths crossed again.

Last summer my good friend Daniel Pepice (also of the Rogues Gallery ex-pat community which includes Ian Velardi of his eponymous label and Aaron Levine now heading up Club Monaco) invited me up to Maine to check out a new store/project space in Portland called SEAWALL. So one summer afternoon on our way to a dinner in the Mid-Coast we swung by for a quick drink and a tour of the space.

The first things to catch my eye were a series of dopp kits and pouches made out of old painters drop cloths, splattered and smeared with paint. The accidental patterns and colors were remarkable on their own, but in the hands of an expert craftsman like Jeremy they became a range of truly exceptional and unique pieces. I was reminded of a quote from Jackson Pollock that has figured into my own polaroid work, "I deny the accidents." The beauty of these bags was in the complete randomness of the pattern and the textures. Years of house paint, caked on the canvas that had turned them into something more than the common work-a-day canvas where they had started their journey, they had become something entirely different, each one felt like a work of art.

On my next trip north I reached out to Jeremy to see if I could swing by and take a look at his studio, we had arranged to do a trade, some of my art for some of his and I thought I might as well take a moment and photograph where he worked, hoping it would be a reflection of what he made, I was not disappointed.

We drove out from Portland just south and east of the city to Black Point, a spit of iconic Maine coastline known to locals as one of the best surf spots in the winter, we entered a basement studio of a 200 year old house where we found Jeremy working. All around us was pattern and texture, built into the old stone walls of the basement, the paint splattered on the floor boards, even the textures of the grass when Jeremy took us on a short cold walk out to the beach just over the bluffs out his window. Everywhere around him was a rich world, it made sense and felt natural that he created would reflect the world around him.