Thursday, October 10, 2013

Embracing Photography - Freeman Patterson


You have heard me bemoan the state of my current camera and my frustration with the kinds of pictures it is able to take.

Well that bemoaning was shut down quite nicely yesterday morning, thank you very much, when my friend G and I popped into the Beaverbrook Art Gallery (of which we are now card-carrying members) to see one of the latest exhibits Freeman Patterson: Embracing Creation.

You can read Freeman's full biography on his own website here.  The Coles Notes version is that Freeman is a New Brunswick boy made good, a photographer whose career has been built on capturing stunning images that make you pause (and pause again) wondering: "How the hell did he do that?  How the hell did he see that?"

This major retrospective of his work just opened at the gallery and it is breathtaking.

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All of the images, which span a remarkable 50 year career, are printed on large watercolour paper, giving the already-painterly works an even greater sense of having been created by brush - you search the image for the brushstroke, realizing that is Freeman's eye and the hand of nature that have wielded the brush.  I thought you might enjoy seeing a very few images that are part of the show.
 
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Your eye travels.  You are drawn in to the images, the moment in which they were taken.  You are the eye, but you cannot help but think of the man behind the camera who took the image.  How many shots were taken and discarded?  How many hours did he wait for the light?
 
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The show is accompanied by a companion coffee table book, which may well be on my Christmas list this year.  You can get yours here. 
 
 
And since the show runs until January 12th, I can promise that I will be back to just sit and stare several more times before it is finished.  He is also doing an artist talk on the evening of November 7th and I promise I will be there.  Hmm - if he is signing that night that might be when I buy my book!
 
Now if I had a better camera, and a modicum of talent in that particular area, I might well sign up for one of his workshops (though he only takes experiences photographers with him to Africa).  You can read more about them here
 
I was reminded, as I wandered around this exhibit, going from image to image, each one more breathtaking than the one before, of something I heard Mikael Baryshnikov say during a tribute event to honour Fred Astaire: "The rest of us are dancing; we don't know what he's doing."
 
The rest of us are just snapping pictures.  Freeman Patterson is painting with his camera.
 
There is a wonderful quote by Freeman that I think is worth sharing and worth remembering:
 
Seeing, in the finest and broadest sense, means using your senses, your intellect, and your emotions. It means encountering your subject matter with your whole being. It means looking beyond the labels of things and discovering the remarkable world around you.
 
 
Thank you Beaverbrook Art Gallery, for a spectacular exhibit celebrating a remarkable artist!
 
Hope you have a great Thursday and stay safe out there!
 
 

19 comments:

  1. Thanks for introducing this photographer - never knew about him before. I love those internal room shots a lot!

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    1. CSW - there are a lot of them in the exhibit and they are spectacular - I believe they are building in an abandoned naval compound in Africa. Oh my god, they were so spectacular!

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  2. Wow his photos are truly beautiful and haunting. I want to go! That gallery is a treasure, don't you just love having it in your community?

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    1. Dani - it is really world class - it is just amazing actually. I feel guilty, as in my previous life I was always so busy and hardly ever got there. And a family membership is only $65 - a steal! And it is right on the river and a gorgeous walk and across from our legislature, kitty corner to our Cathedral, and next door to a hotel with a lovely pub! What more could you ask for?

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  3. I do believe we all can sing, dance, paint, and take pictures it's just some have a special gift. With photography the key is patience and lots of snaps...a decent camera is necessary too. Did not know the same of the photographer but have seen his book cover photo several times.

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    1. BB - I believe you are right and that there is not enough Arts in our school or people encouraging us to do creative things, regardless of our age!

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  4. I didn't knew him and those are beautiful pictures. I don't go in galleries often enough!

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    1. Hi Steph! I haven't been doing it enough either, but I am changing my perspective on that!

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  5. Hi Wendy, I've walked past the gallery before; as you say, such a beautiful location. Thanks for writing about this photographer and exhibit - those images are stunning!

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    1. And they are hardly impressive compared to what they look like in person!

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  6. Inspired me to go and see this exhibit!!

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  7. I'm intrigued. I think it is a real talent to take moving or thought-provoking photographs. The last image you shared, of the trees, has me entranced.

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    1. They almost seem like they are dancing, don't they?

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  8. Never heard of him but those pictures of interiors are mind-blowing. Thank you for sharing them, I might as well put his book under my Xmas tree (even if to be honest I tend to forget about the art books that I have, they end up in the highest shelf of my bookcase and I never browse them). I would rather have one of these photos hanging on the wall in my living room!

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    1. I would love one of his prints - the conundrum will be - which one????

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  9. I'd never heard of him before, but those internal room pictures are amazing. Is that sand sealing into the pictures?
    Amazing Wendy - thanks for sharing this

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    1. Ruth - it sure is - the desert reclaiming the abandoned buildings! So amazing!

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  10. These are amazing photographs. Thank you for introducing us to this photographer. I had not heard of him before. The photos of the desert reclaiming the buildings are haunting and for some reason, they remind me of the mood of some of Alex Colville's paintings, the same sense of isolation.

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