Circle Village of Huts, from La pêche blanche (2009) by Lise Beaudry.
Travelling Light – Views of Ontario, a trilingual website project initiated by the Ontario-Jiangsu Tourism Cooperation (OJTC) is shining a spotlight on eight remarkable art photographers from Ontario and the beauty of Ontario's landscape.
Jiangsu, Ontario’s sister province in China, has a population of 74 million people. The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport (MTCS) partnered with the Jiangsu Tourism Bureau to raise awareness of each other’s culture. Coordinated by the Ontario Arts Council at the request of MTCS, this project highlights the province of Ontario as a premier tourism and cultural destination through the online photography exhibit.
Scott McLeod, founder of Prefix Photo magazine and former director of the Prefix Institute of Contemporary Art, was commissioned to curate the project. Eight Ontario artists were selected from a pool of 45, and a beautifully designed website in English, French and Mandarin, showcases a total of 72 works by:
A Franco-Ontarian artist from the northern town of Earlton, Ontario, Lise Beaudry maintains a close connection to her community of origin through her photographic work. She regularly returns to the region, camera in hand, to explore her natural surroundings. Her series La pêche blanche (2009), inspired by her memories of a childhood spent camping, fishing and travelling with her family, depicts ice huts – that is, modest portable shelters placed on frozen lakes to protect fishers from the cold – in a delightfully odd array of colours, shapes and sizes.
Netherlands-born and Toronto-based, Toni Hafkenscheid photographs selected sites in order to convey the texture and experience of life in a particular place. As with much of his field photography, his series HO/Not to Scale (1998–2005) and Relics of the Future (2009, ongoing) was created using specialized equipment – a tilt-shift camera – that creates images in which a small part of the film plane appears in sharp focus while the remainder is enveloped in a soft blur. The effect is to miniaturize the subject – whether that subject is Niagara Falls, Toronto City Hall or ice skating on Ottawa's Rideau Canal – and viewers must reconcile their awareness of the subject's realness with its appearance as a model or a toy.
In a career spanning more than thirty years, April Hickox has worked intensively and expressively with images of nature. She is a lifelong resident of Ward's Island, the Toronto island on which people reside in year-round cottages on municipally owned land. Her life in this remarkable community, with its rich and colourful history, has shaped her artistic practice. Her work constitutes an autobiographical journey in which she asserts that humans belong to nature, are part of nature. The natural world depicted in her photographs is full of intimate details; it is an inhabited environment in which traces of humans are only sometimes visible, and yet human presence is always palpable.
An accomplished photographer based in Toronto, Geoffrey James explores the relationship between human society and its surroundings. Adept in a wide range of styles and genres, including classical and documentary, black-and-white and colour, he has, in recent years, primarily focused his attention on social documentary, turning his lens toward such subjects as the mining town of Sudbury, Ontario, and the Kingston Penitentiary in Kingston, Ontario – Canada's oldest prison, now closed. In his series Dundas Square (2011–2013), he directed his attention to the eponymous square located at the intersection of Yonge Street – Toronto's longest street – and Dundas Street – Toronto's oldest street – and one of Canada's busiest meeting places, with an average of more than 62,000 pedestrians per day.
A new generation artist of Aboriginal and Euro-Canadian heritage who lives in Ottawa, Meryl McMaster has amassed an impressive body of work that expresses the joys, challenges and complexities of her bi-racial and bi-cultural identity. In her series In-Between Worlds (2010–2013), she draws upon her experiences of vision quests or personal spiritual journeys in the wilderness. Here, the artist gathers assorted elements from nature – wood or feathers, for example – and straps or otherwise attaches them to her body in a process that she likens to collage.
Guelph-based Rebecca Scriver is a new generation photographer whose childhood experiences of hiking, canoeing, camping, spelunking and cross-country skiing in Ontario's provincial parks instilled in her a lifelong love of the outdoors and a deep respect for the environment. Her passion for the environment inspired a master’s thesis assessing the health risks associated with the effects of growing urbanization on the water supply and a body of photographic work taken during her adventures in Ontario’s provincial parks. In her series Bruce Peninsula National Park (2013–2014), Massasauga Provincial Park (2011–2013) and Pinery Provincial Park (2012-2013), she depicts the breadth of extraordinary scenery in some of her favourite places, from the rugged cliffs and aquamarine waters of Georgian Bay to the Oak Savannah woodlands and undulating sand dunes on the shores of Lake Huron.
Jeff Thomas identifies as an urban Iroquois, an identity that reflects his experience as an Aboriginal man born in Buffalo, New York, to parents from the Six Nations Reserve near Brantford, Ontario. His series Indians on Tour (2000, ongoing) presents toy Indian figures displayed in a variety of locations, both ordinary and iconic, in Ontario and beyond. In a clever reversal of early touring shows in which Aboriginal peoples performed in historical re-enactments, these toy Indians now visit popular Western tourist destinations. In this work, Thomas provides a playful yet pointed alternative to long-standing and entrenched stereotypes of Aboriginal peoples.
Based in Ottawa, Andrew Wright is an artist for whom photography forms the core of his practice. With Tree Corrections (2013), he engages in a formal exercise with the genre of landscape photography, effectively turning it on its head. The result is a series of photographs of windswept trees precariously perched on the rocky shores of Georgian Bay. Known as tuckamore in Newfoundland parlance, these trees, battered and buffeted by relentless winds, now grow at various angles to the earth. Wright's "corrections," which consist of rendering the tree vertical within the photographic frame, restore the verticality that one conventionally expects, although the surrounding landscape appears skewed as a result. In this work, he invites viewers to engage in the perception of nature by considering the nature of perception.