Newsletter #196: December, 2021
© Chris Harris. All rights reserved.
Celebrating my 17th year writing this photographic Newsletter!
Winter has arrived in the Cariboo region of BC…and we love it!
This Newsletter comprises of two narratives; my Montréal experience, and our photographic workshops for 2022.
I have just returned from the culturally rich city of Montréal where I taught two workshops, and then photographed for myself for two entire weeks. Montréal is visually inspiring; it begs creative thought. It is for good reason that Montreal is an international centre for the arts.
Also in this newsletter, the dates for 2022 workshops are being released. There are only three 6-day workshops being offered this year; one near Bella Coola on the central coast, one on the Gulf Island of Gabriola, and one based in the Old City of Montréal.
Registration for these workshops is on a first-come basis. Please give your immediate consideration to these workshops, as they usually fill quickly.
Montréal: Skyscrapers, City Streets, Parklands, and Palimpsest.
Montréal is my favourite Canadian city to visually explore cultural and architectural diversity, along with the historical perspective of old and new. There is the Old Port and Old City that once was the commercial and financial centre of colonial Canada, the new downtown core with colourful skyscrapers that reach for the heavens, rejuvenating urban parklands, and a scattering of vibrant cultural districts, each with a distinct flavour.
In late October, I spent two weeks exploring the city with a camera and two lenses.
One day I took a 3-hour walk from Place Des Arts westward toward the city core where coloured towers of reflective glass towered above me. I was in awe of the intersection between art and science. I felt small in many ways; pondering the marvels of architecture and construction.
I quickly realized that with my two lenses, I could not possibly capture reality; besides, what is reality? Reality can be real to only one person, we all interpret reality differently.
I began to imagine my own realities. I thought mainly of line, form, shape, and perspective. My world became more and more abstract.
Below are a few images which provide a visual glimpse of my 3-hour walk.
Montreal is a city where thousands cycle for pleasure and to work daily. Traffic lights often had three signals; one each for vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians. It’s a city on the move.
With an emphasis on exploring form and perspective, I often transformed the formal structures of place. It was an exhilarating and exciting experience.
Montréal is a city of many beautiful parklands; large and small. I visited many of them and was taken by how many ways they were used by youth, families, and the elderly. The visuals I remember most were of families who took over tables for afternoon or evening picnics. Cheese, bread, culinary treats, and bottles of wine covered the tables as children ran about laughing and playing.
The other aspect that struck me were the eastern deciduous trees which I don’t get to see and appreciate where I live in the west. Trees such as maple, oak, elm, and beech were all in full colour; it was a spectacle that inspired me.
Below are interpretations of joyful times amidst the leaves in Parc La Fontaine.
Distant memories of playing in the leaves as a child were part of the feelings I experienced there. As I began to make photographs, my camera seemed to have a life of its own; it guided my hands with camera movement. I just followed my instincts.
On other days, I wandered through the streets of distinct neighbourhoods such as Le Plateau-Mont Royal, Saint-Laurent, Chinatown, Little Italy, the Village, and Vieux Montréal. Using a single medium-zoom lens, I simply responded to time and place using appropriate photographic styles.
Montréal was the early centre for the arts in Canada where Canadian Impressionism took hold in the late 1800’s. Painters such as Cullen, Gagnon, and Suzor-Coté are a source of inspiration for me. The above image was made in Vieux Montréal using a photographic Impressionist style.
One day while exploring the streets and alleys of Vieux Montréal, I became aware of architectural imprints which spoke to an older historical time in Montréal. Once aware, Rita and I found them all over the city wherever we walked together. Thinking of my Newsletter, I asked Rita if she knew a word that would better describe these so-called imprints. She responded, there is; Palimpsest.
Palimpsest refers to something that is reused or altered but still bears visible traces of its earlier form. In textual studies, a palimpsest is a manuscript from which text has been scraped off so it can be reused for another document. It was certainly a new word in my vocabulary and one that seemed to fit our historical discoveries in Montréal.
Below are two Montréal examples of palimpsest.
In future Newsletters, I look forward to sharing my approach to making these images (and many more) which were the result of my two-week photographic residency in Montréal.
Bella Coola, Gabriola Island, and Vieux Montréal
Informative, Inspirational, Challenging & Creative
Dennis Ducklow and I are offering THREE 6-day workshops, in THREE different world-class locations. Join us on a journey into unseen worlds of expressive art.
The shoreline. Representational
Gabriola Island – May 15-21, 2022
Fish nets, Tallheo Cannery. Abstract
Bella Coola – June 18-24, 2022
Evening stroll, Vieux Montréal. Impressionist
Vieux Montréal – October 5-11, 2022