Jan 24 2016

A Terrible Beauty – Edward Burtynsky in Dialogue with Emily Carr (The Reach Gallery Abbotsford)

Do not miss this!

Edward Burtynsky, Mount Edziza Provincial Park #4, Northern British Columbia, Canada

Running from Jan 21, 2016 to April 10, 2016 at the Reach Gallery in Abbotsford is the traveling exhibition ‘A Terrible Beauty: Edward Burtynsky in Dialogue with Emily Carr’ curated and pulled from the collections of the Vancouver Art Gallery.  There are eighteen large scale photographs from Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky that span multiple series from 1983 to 2012.  There are also six paintings by Emily Carr that speak to similar themes of the human impact on the environment.  In particular Emily Carr’s Loggers’ Culls, 1935 and Above the Gravel Pit, 1937 show our early impact on the British Columbia landscape.  Burtynsky’s work although it begins in British Columbia with Homesteads and Railcuts soon moves on to a more global view with works from series such as Quarries & oil. 

Emily Carr, Loggers’ Culls, 1935 oil on canvas


Emily Carr helped to shape our perceptions of the British Columbia landscape, in particular the coastal forests, however today an artist seeking out those same settings is confronted with something more like what Burtynsky presents to us, a landscape shaped and altered by human activity.

The impact of the Burtynsky photographs are aided by their physical scale.  They are large, with a focus that extends from foreground to background.  With the photographic visual language cue of focus depth removed the viewer is forced to interpret the scale of the scene through its content.  This can be somewhat jarring as you come to terms with thousands of burning tires in ‘Burning Tire Pile #1 Near Stockton California’ or uncounted circuit boards filling the landscape ‘China Recycling #9, Circuit Boards, Guiy, Guangdong Provice, China 2004’ or the more flattened scenery of  recent works from the series ‘Water’ . 

I could continue to try to write about this but my efforts would always fall short of standing in front of these works in person. The Reach Gallery Museum in Abbotsford has free admission and seeing this exhibition is well worth the trip for anyone located in the Fraser Valley and beyond.

Amusingly I visited on a day where they were hosting a Family Literacy day celebration which filled the gallery with activity and the cacophony of tiny voices.  Your visit is likely to be much quieter.

Aug 10 2014

Interactions #11


Jul 28 2014

Interactions #10


As I reach number #10 in my Interactions series I thought I would take a moment to speak about it again.

As I have stated previously the source of the images that form the basis of these paintings is from images seen through mapping software.  So why not just present the image as seen without the process of painting?  Well there are several reasons for this one of them being the necessity to make them stand out from the multitude of images we continuously see.  Another reason is it allows me to simplify the scene to make it about what I choose. By re-creating the scene through painting I can pick and choose what is relevent.  One of the side effects of Google Street view is it grants equal visual weight to a piece of garbage on the street as to a sign in a window or a person.  I as a photographer am not there to compose a scene as I would like it but as a painter I can address that.

Jul 4 2014

Interactions #8


Jun 16 2014

Interactions #6


Jun 8 2014

Interactions #5


As I reach #5 in my Interaction series I thought it would be a good time to re-cap what I am doing.  The basis of the series of digital paintings done on my iPad is situations of human interaction.  The source of these comes from Google Street view or similar.  Many of these fleeting moments are captured without the subjects being aware making the interaction feel all the more genuine and spontaneous.  Additionally using remote imaging allows me the opertunity to see places and events that I could not otherwise.  The down side is I can only superficially visit the world within the confines of the streets and only those moments at which random chance has placed the subjects and the camera together.

May 17 2014

Interactions #2



Interactions #1

May 10 2014

Interactions image 1

This is the start of a series of digital paintings based on Google street views.
The way we interact helps to define us as humans. These interactions can be fleeting and no more so than those captured by chance. I wanted to separate the final images from being simple screen captures and so have recreated them as digital paintings on my iPad. I hope with this context the images will speak for themselves.


Dec 2 2013

Polaroid SX70 oil painting


This painting has been sitting waiting to be finished for far longer than I care to admit.  Now that its done I want to move on to something new and what currently interests me.  I have the canvas, I have the paint and I have the image in my mind, time is what I need.

This particular painting is part of an ongoing series of images of cameras and film that I have been doing.  It began with “Made in Occupied Japan” which was included in the first Fraser Valley Biennale and from time to time since I have done a painting that fits in the series.  Yes I realize in posting these, I am photographing paintings of things that relate to taking photographs that I sometimes use for paintings, but thank you for pointing that out.


Aug 7 2013

After Dark at the Reach

I created this fun little 12″ x 12″  sketch in oil for the Reach Gallery’s After Dark and 5th anniversary celebration. The painting will be in the silent auction.  And yes that’s intended to be raspberry jam, it is Abbotsford after all.