Photography - Montreal

Artist’s Statement: Montreal Exhibition

In taking this series of photographs of Montréal I was captivated by the behind the surface qualities of things and the intense sense of the bizarre.

This peculiar sense of seeing and perceiving has become part of the way I like to work best.

Hours and even days simply disappeared behind the lens and the unexpected presented something intriguing which beguiled me into a state of obsessive photo shooting day and night.

When investigating a new and unknown environment, for me, it feels a bit like fossicking for some rare and precious gems.

The surprise shots that come from discovering things layered through time or something that captures a sense of identity are what inspires me.

In shooting the Montréal series, I discovered the unexpected in the ordinary street scenes as in earlier series of works such as Paris, or the Medieval Village of St Cirq Lapopie. I was not looking for the usual touristy icons such as the Eifel tower of Paris or the Opera House of Sydney however, instead, the nuances of time and aging contrasted strongly with and within the contemporary structures of modern life.

The unusual in the usual are what I look for. On the realization of capturing an image of something that no-one else is noticing or something that suggests a transition of time is when a sense of euphoria sets in. This is what makes photographic forays into new regions still an exciting adventure.

After a sort of warm up session a bit like an athlete going through the motions for training purposes, I start to see more. In fact, I am almost reluctant to begin a photographic session as I may feel a bit awkward even disinterested. I commence on a sort of autopilot mode, shooting at anything. Then something clicks in and I begin to see beyond the perimeters of the focal plane. This is the same when I am painting in my studio.

At first I seem to spend a lot of time fiddling around before I actually make a mark on the canvas. Then after a few wipe – offs of charcoal and a short period of settling in, I become oblivious to time and become totally focused. As the mind’s eye tunes into the subject on a photographic sojourn, time seems to stand still. Moments lead to hours; hours to days in this kind of magical entrancement.

There is also a kind of serendipity occurring during this period. As the eye sees through the lens of the camera, something unseen but felt makes its connection and the photographic session engages on another level with the camera as a tool or facilitator. Things seem to come into view or make themselves known. When this takes place, circumstances are not only visually perceived in a different manner but something else is felt within. Perhaps this can be explained as a shift in awareness or an energy that starts to radiate as the artist’s eye tunes in, whatever, when it happens, all the senses are acute. I liken it a bit to yoga-meditation. After the photo shoot meditation experience, the more banal occupation of many hours spent at the computer working through became the reality with the usual sorting, adjusting, filing and printing processes involved.

Technology I have found, has made photography more accessible and its nice not to spend the long hours over toxic chemicals in the darkroom. Putting together the Montreal series meant a commitment of time to making it contain an atmosphere that was uniquely Montreal. In the end, The Montreal Series became a meaningful celebration of time spent meandering and fossicking then deliberating and working through to production.

The beautiful city of Montreal has many layers and on reflection I see the series I have created as a brief encounter from a stranger who has had the opportunity to capture something of the peculiar in the essence of overlapping fragments exposed in a period of time spent fossicking.

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