Artist Statement. Coastal.
As a photographer, I have always strived to look deeper, beyond the ordinary and the everyday, using reality to cross boundaries, conceptually and aesthetically, to create stories that uncover the layers of daily life. My work explores what it means to belong to acommunity and have traditions rooted in heritage. The photographs created show what is, but also speak to what was.
In 2009 I visited Scalpay, Scotland to see my Uncle David, a fisherman all of his life. He told me in Gaelic "Far nach bian-o'g cha bhi an sean - If there is no young, there will be no old". He talked about being one of the last fishermen on theisland, he spoke of the ‘herring fever’, you could see the loss in his eyes,the loss of the fish, the decline of these ‘silver darlings’. He looks back fondly on those days, the community, the way of life.
While there I saw a picture of my great, great grandfather, a looming man with a white beard, guiding his boat in the foggy water, his crew huddled in the back, sitting on the cold sea. Something woke up inside of me, that image of him, my bloodline, and a connection to the coast. Since then I have been interested in those that live on the edge: who face the ocean and the land, know its beauty and its harshness. I returned home to Canada and began the Coastal Project.
In 2010, the outport town of Grand Bruit, Newfoundland, resettled. I spent the last week there while the remaining occupants left. A woman cried as she left her home for the lasttime, she was born there, like her family before her. I entered the already abandoned houses, pictures on the walls and food in the cupboards, items left behind. Houses sit like ghost homes - a red blanket drapes over a chair - theshape of a person still exists, you can feel the people, a shrine to the past.
I followed and photographed along the St Lawrence River and documented First Nations communities on James Bay; during these trips I quickly witnessed the meaning of belonging, tradition and heritage.
In 2014, I travelled to Churchill, Rankin Inlet, Vancouver, Vancouver Island, Kitimat and Haida Gwaii. I spent time photographing and learning about the coast and its people. The project became a collaboration; the people guided, introduced and took me to where they wanted, sharing their lives and their stories. The images reflect this.
From these photographs I have been offered a book deal with Schilt Publishing. Though the story is not complete.
It is important that I visit all three oceans. I have photographed communities on the Pacific and the Atlantic coast of Canada. Now to complete the project, I must photograph the Arctic coast. I will travel to Tuktoyaktuk in the North West Territories in 2016. This trip will allow me to complete what I have begun, to push beyond the usual boundaries, to develop and publish a critical archive, of Canadian coastal culture.