Saturday, January 28, 2017

On writing and photography...

I haven't really been using this blog.  Most of the time I think it's a waste because it's geared towards written words not visuals, and for that I prefer Instagram or Facebook.  However, lately I've been thinking otherwise.

I'm not a very good writer, which is probably why I prefer drawing, but something is missing. In December I did an interview for Grand Magazine with the lovely Barbara Aggerholm followed by a photo session with the talented Dwight Storing.  The interview went on much longer than I anticipated, and the questions took a different direction than I was expecting.  What I was prepared to talk about was the ideas behind my work, a more detailed breakdown of how I created each image (both process and subject).  However Barbara was more interested in writing a story about me, my life, and how my life experience has shaped my work.  I understand, Grand Magazine is about people.  But I was left wanting more.

I have not yet read the article, it won't be out until the March/April issue.  But I have decided that this year I am going to try to include more regular posts about what I am working on, but more importantly why.  I'm not sure where these thoughts are going, but these are the ideas I am playing with.


Last night I attended Flash, a local contemporary photography showcase.   I saw some of the most powerful images I have ever seen by an amazing photographer Larry Towell.  Listening to him talk about why and how he creates the work he does really resonated with me.  He lives a simple life on a rural farm near Chatham, Ontario with his family, but he regularly goes on world-wide adventures documenting some of the greatest human conflicts and crises on earth.  Now photojournalism is a profession that I greatly admire (it's essential); but travelling to war zones and immersing myself in the middle of heated uprisings is the last thing I would ever want to do (I can't even stand crowds at the farmers market).  Several of his images really affected me.  Primarily the documentation of First Nations and Inuit housing and community life in Canada, juxtaposed against his own home life.  The similarities and differences were profound.

For Instance:

Photos Larry took in Attawapiskat of housing, children playing, people inside their homes.  I was especially taken by photos inside tiny homes with entire families watching television, photos of rooms full of kids playing video games, kids hanging around on rural street corners - contrasted against photos of children fishing on the ice, playing in the fields with their dogs.

I wondered, "what is it like to live there?"  How are these homes similar and how are they different from what I know? Are these people happy? What is truly important to a house, what makes it a home?  What do these places need?  What do we think they need that they really don't need?

Do these families have the same parenting problems that I have (limited screen time, encouraging outdoor play, getting kids to clean up their own messes)?
(there were many more photos in Larry's slide shows that I can't find online)

Larry continued to show photos of people around the world, in make-shift housing, temporary housing, living in bombed out shells of former homes.  Most of these I found incredibly distressing, for a variety of reasons.

I found this photo by Larry Towell particularly intriguing (I'm not sure where or when it was taken):
What is going on here?  What is she thinking about?

The photo reminded me of a painting I forgot about long ago, but I loved when I was a kid.  
Christina's World is a 1948 painting by American painter Andrew Wyeth

Both images depict a girl in the grass, with farmhouses in the distance.  However Andrew Wyeth's has an optimistic feel, the girl is looking longingly towards the well-kept houses.  In Larry's photo the houses have fallen apart and the girl is looking away (or is she sleeping?).  These images are both loaded with emotion and story, they spark the imagination.

After Larry's presentation last night I looked at his Instagram feed.  One photo in particular caught my attention, both for the image depicted (the beautiful use of the a variety of wood species collected from his own farm) but even more so after I read the caption beneath it.

from Instagram: larrysgeneralstore

"Thoughts on being Canadian on the day of the U.S. elections. 
We Canadians like living in the bush, so since this spring, I’ve been building a cabin out of salvaged materials at the back of my farm to get away from the invasiveness of the internet, the madness of this particular election campaign, and to maintain some kind of contact with myself and with nature. I just finished paneling the walls with scrap, walnut, oak, cherry, pine, and cottonwood boards sawn in my local mill from trees I cut off the farm. I went back today, as the election results began to roll in, to take this picture. I realized I’m going to need a table, a chair, and a bed soon, because no matter what happens, it’s going to be a long four years. Tomorrow I leave for the Standing Rock Sioux protest camp in North Dakota. Regardless of who gets in, the results of this campaign will not affect oil profits. No wonder the original Americans don’t bother to vote. As for me, I owe my career as a Canadian, to all the presidents of the United States since Ronald Reagan, who have continued to create turmoil, havoc, wars, and hatred around the globe. Tonight therefore, is a good occasion to get out my bed roll and christen the cabin, in order to listen to mother nature--- or what’s left of it. 
Larry Towell 

Do we think of our homes as a refuge, an escape from the outside world? Or do we think of our homes as a hub, part of a network of interconnected places linked via internet, radio, television, telephone, water, electricity, etc. etc.?  How do we define a home?

People have been living in Canada for thousands of years in homes created from materials gathered from the land, producing no waste, and being 100% renewable/sustainable.  What have we lost?  What have we gained?

Larry's book "The World From My Front Porch" is about "land, landlessness, peoples association with the land, and how the land makes you who you are".  This is the essence of what I am interested in.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Art Reception: Filiatrault, Purchase, van Mossel-Forrester

Join us for the opening reception of an exhibition featuring the inspirational work of: Anne Filiatrault, Michelle Purchase, and Julian Van Mossel-Forrester.

Refreshments provided, free admission, all welcome.

Date: Thursday, July 28, 2016 - from 5 pm to 9 pm 
location: The Accelerator Centre, 295 Hagey Blvd. S, Waterloo, Ontario

The show runs from May untill the end of August.

A little bit about the artists:

Anne Filiatrault is a Canadian artist who recreates ‘snapshots’ of the brilliance of the Ontario landscape. Whether on family travel to northern Ontario during the summer, the Escarpment within the winter months or during walks to her children’s neighbourhood school, Anne is continuously inspired by hidden gems of nature that surround her everyday.

Michelle Purchase's work depicts scenes where nature and culture co-exist, imaginary worlds that are half-constructed and half-wild. She takes inspiration from hideouts on the beach, abandoned tree forts, animal nests, and old ramshackle shacks. Purchase's work includes a mix of etchings, monoprints, and lithographs, created using various different techniques on Japanese washi. She finds printmaking to be an effective medium to capture the atmosphere of these spaces. She hopes the work inspires the viewer to build, to explore, or to imagine, something wonderful.

Julian van Mossel-Forrester works primarily with acrylic on canvas. His recent work focuses on themes close to his heart and to life in the community. This work has ultimately been about connecting with people and celebration. Julian’s application of paint is spontaneous and playful, fragmenting the surface of the canvas, always in response to close observation of the subject. Through observation and response, he reworks the image, layer after layer, with an adventurous use of colour.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Studio Tour

The New Downtown Studio Tour is this Saturday October 3rd, 10:00 am to 6:00pm in downtown Kitchener, Ontario.

Pick up a map/brochure at the Art District Gallery or at Globe Studios and join us for a walking/driving tour of artist studios located in downtown Kitchener. You will see a variety of types of artwork most of which are for sale. Enjoy a wonderful relaxing day as you visit the artists in any order along the route during this family friendly event.

Friday, August 21, 2015

The House Hunter at KPL

Please come to my first storybook illustration exhibition at the Kitchener Public Library

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Editions 2015 - Fundraiser for Open Studio


With the glorious weather we’ve been having this week, it’s time to come out of
hibernation! Plan a fun night out with your friends this Thursday, May 14th at
Open Studio. For only $50 you can spend the evening at our Editions event watching
live print demos, noshing on some food and getting merry, compliments of the open bar.

More than just fun, your support of Open Studio will help us continue to provide
affordable printmaking facilities for artists, education classes for everyone and
acclaimed public exhibitions.

It’s not too late to get your ticket—grab your friends and come out to Open Studio
this Thursday. We look forward to seeing you there!

Thursday, May 14, 2015, 6:30PM
At Open Studio, 401 Richmond Street West, Suite 104
Art Draw: $375 admits two and guarantees you'll take home an original piece of artwork.
General admission: $50, admits one person to the party.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Strata Gallery

I am very pleased to announce that my artwork is now being carried by Strata Gallery near lovely Elora, Ontario.  Strata Gallery, formerly of downtown Elora, reopened in a new location in the old Salem schoolhouse on March 13th, 2015.

The owner Jo Lomas has done a wonderful job cleaning up the historic one-room school, it is an absolutely stunning building, perfect for an art gallery.  The schoolhouse is a very prominent architectural landmark, with the advantage over downtown Elora of having ample parking.   Located in Salem at the intersection of Wellington Roads 7 and 18 (which turns into Northfield Drive in Waterloo) it is a gateway into the little village of Elora.

I am delighted to be showing work along side an incredibly talented roster of local artists including Lauren JudgeRyan Price, Ivano Stocco, and Rick Worthington.   Jo Lomas is a pleasure to meet, she is incredibly friendly and helpful.

Strata is open Tuesday to Friday 11 a.m.-4 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and holiday Mondays as well. For more information on the gallery and artists see or the Facebook page.

guests view work on display at Strata Gallery's grand re-opening

Friday, January 23, 2015

Great people write great blogs

I am very fortunate to have been mentioned in a few different blogs recently.

If you are located in Toronto, and you are looking for artwork, I recommend visiting Canvas Gallery.  I dropped off a stack of work there this week.  You can view the pieces I have available there on their website or blog:

I also noticed (well after the fact) that Darin White posted a lovely review of my November 2014 show at the Rotunda Gallery at the City of Kitchener in his Make Bright blog.  Darin takes amazing photographs and conducts informative interviews then writes excellent posts about current arts and creative events in the Waterloo region.