Bigger Than A Book, Wilder Than A Tree
I had the pleasure of attending the opening of an art show in Vancouver on Thursday evening. Titled Bigger Than A Book, Wilder Than A Tree it features works by Christina Mackie and the late Jerry Pethick. Mackie is a London based artist who has exhibited in many parts of the world, but never before in Canada, even though she grew up here on the west coast. Pethick was an artist based in the Gulf Islands between Vancouver and Victoria, at least towards the end of his life. He passed away in 2003 at the age of 68. For more information about the artists and their careers, check out the website of the Catriona Jeffries gallery where the exhibit is being shown until 27 October 2012.
What is my connection, some of you are wondering, that led me to Vancouver for an art show opening? I have known Mackie for much of my life – we went through elementary and high school together – and she was kind enough to invite myself and family to this event. Since she lives in London, we rarely see her, and the opportunity to attend an opening has not presented itself since I too lived in the UK more than 25 years ago. What a treat! And, she said I should take photos and I could blog about her opening. So, this is the first of two posts about this event.
Today I concentrate only on Christina Mackie’s installation called Interzonal that is comprised of pieces from 2002 and 2012, housed in a single room by themselves, and considered by the artist to be parts of a single work of art. You are not going to get art critique here, I know nothing about art. You will get some pictures and links to information and you can do your own critique, or find other critiques and read them.
Included are a projected video clip called Forestface projected onto fluorescent lamps which generated a lot of study and comment from the guests. Also part of Interzonal is Nightlight, a compilation of video on a flat screen monitor mounted high on the wall, a photograph, coloured sand and polished rocks on the floor in front of the photo and a wire mesh box lined with ceramic plates. Christina’s family plays a big part in these pieces, with her younger brother responsible for filming the small video of sea creatures swimming around a night light in the water, her mother polished the stones and her father made the ceramic plates with her. There is much in her art that touches back to the west coast. To those of us that knew her when she lived in Canada, there is much that is familiar. It makes me wonder what are the reactions of people that view this work when it is exhibited in Europe (most recently in Denmark a few months ago). There seem to be many layers of meaning or association (or something indescribable) that are familiar to a few people and which are completely absent for most of those that view her work. And on the flip side, I expect that us non-European dwellers are missing various references and contexts for this work, distracted from it even by the familiar local things.
Since this is a photo blog where I often discuss my methods, I will insert into what is really Mackie’s story a bit of my own experience taking these pictures. I found it a challenge to photograph. I did not use my tripod (it was bad enough pointing a camera at all those people without tripping them up with tripod legs), the light levels weren’t too bad in one room, but really quite low in another one and I had to shoot most frames at ISO1250. There were lots and lots of people, even though I got there a bit early when there were only a handful of guests, it filled up quickly before I got clear shots of all the work and I got distracted talking to people, and so on. Thus, there are some pieces that I don’t have good pictures of. The focus confirm in my old Nikkor lens adapter packed it in again, for most of the evening, and thus some of the wide angle shots were not crisp enough to use. I bracketed many of the shots, mostly to ensure that I got a decent exposure. Having brackets and HDR software, of course I had to try some tonemapping, even though people were moving and ghosting was a problem. So, some of these are HDR processed shots, and others are single images, some tonemapped, most just worked on a bit in Lightroom. In other words, more in my recent attempts to learn some better post-processing methods. On a subject and setting that is really quite different from what I usually do. Also, I shot a couple of video clips, you will see why below, and another tomorrow.
Whatever it means to each individual, I hope you enjoy seeing some of this work, and if you are in the area, you might like to check it out.
To see larger views, click on any of the thumbnails below, navigate with the arrows and escape to return to this page.
Canon EOS 5D11, Canon 50mm/1.4 and Nikkor-N 24/2.8mm lenses, ISO1250.