It’s Been A Long Hard Year

I will not be the first to say how prophetically the Queen’s music video “Thank God It’s Christmas” is perceived today, now seen through the veil of lockdowns and hardships, with the world shrinking to the small and intimate space of our houses. Here we are, in December 2020, approaching Christmas, back in lockdown. Our little neighborhood is now all illuminated by festive lights, and we look at the coming new year with hopeful expectations, praying not to lose anyone we love.

This year has demonstrated that despite physical restrictions we can transcend these constraints and unite virtually in so many ways. Moreover, our current situation has reminded me that we all carry a source of life inside us, this flame that keeps us going even when the reality is dire and hard. I consider myself very lucky, because my inner vessel of power and energy is constantly being replenished by things that matter most of all – love of my family, beauty of nature, and a never-ending inspiration that comes from my music heroes, especially, from Dr. Brian May. Being his fan has been a huge asset for me all these years; but in 2020, it became a lifesaver.

A drawing by ilove80z, “Rockin’ the Cosmos”

This year I have been working on my stereo skills more than ever; paradoxically, the limitations imposed by lockdowns, only motivated me to look for an inspiration when all our movements were reduced to walks around the block. I have discovered that autumn leaves glow when you take a stereo early in the morning light; that one and the same spot can reveal different views every time you walk by; that snowy trees look just like cherry blossoms that my Japanese friends post on their accounts. That you can console yourself by taking, editing, and aligning stereos; and that the greatest joy that you feel is when it reaches my friends’ hearts.

My stereo photo, “Snow Blossoms”

All these months I experienced an overwhelming sense of gratitude for this hobby that kept me going, literally and figuratively. I thought of a chain of events, or rather, of miracles that led me to this point. I would think of a scene that occurred many years ago, when a young English boy watched in awe how two pictures of hippos fused into one and suddenly becoming real and tangible. And how, after growing up and becoming a rock star, Brian kept his stereo passion going, and created a priceless set of Queen pictures in 3D. And how I, three years ago, came across these stereo photos in his “Queen in 3D” book and gasped, because this was the magic looking-glass from my childhood, my stereo slides, and the beloved stories of the world that you can reach just by opening the right wardrobe door.

A drawing by ilove80z, “Stereoscopic Adventure”

This wonder that I experienced back then, when I started to master this superpower, has never left me. Back in the early 2018, I thought I opened my Instagram account only to read Dr. May’s posts and to follow a couple of other heroes of mine. In reality, I have already started walking this path, meeting talented and wonderful people that became my friends, and seeing distant corners of our planet. I remember how I watched Brian’s video tutorials on stereo making, how I learned to freeview (i.e., to see a 3d image without a stereoscope), and how, quite recently, my heart filled with joy when he mentioned our stereo community in an online lecture.

A drawing by ilove80z, “A Million Lights Above You”

I love seeing the huge flow of artistry inspired by Dr. May that comes up in so many forms of art, including collages and edits, stereos and monos, handmade dolls and poetry, Queen songs covers, and a multitude of amazing drawings and paintings. The creativity of Brian’s fans is like a light that breaks into all seven colors of a rainbow – the enormous talent, kindness, and openness of this incredible man encourages us all to find our own inner flame, to create, to speak out, to not be afraid. I know that it happened to me, when I started posting my first stereos, and especially when I managed to overcome my insecurity and started writing essays in English. Thanks to these huge changes in my life, I now pay closer attention to the morning light shining on autumn leaves, the pale blue sky of late November, and the silhouettes of leafless trees. A moment in time that I can capture in 3d and convey to my friends.

A drawing by ilove80z, “Looking At Cosmic Clouds”

With this essay that will probably be the last one before the New Year, I want to thank all of my wonderful friends, whose warmth overcomes any borders, restrictions, or distances. I feel truly blessed, and I hope that next year will be kinder to all of us and we will all stay together. As Brian wrote a couple of years ago, “All I can say is, we all know, now, that we are not alone,” a perfect way to describe our common emotion. Let us hope and find consolation in creating and sharing.

Thank you, Dr. May, for your kindness, your Micro Concerts, your thoughtful words, your fight for all creatures, and for always keeping in touch with your worldwide family of fans.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Katya Neklyudova (@katya.3d), December 2020

P. S. Greatest thanks to my friend Flory (@ilove80z on IG) for allowing me to have her wonderful drawings (including the cover art) featured in this essay.

On Queen

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