Artist Statement. Coastal.
My work explores what it means to belong to a community and have traditions rooted in heritage. The photographs created show what is, but also speak to what was. My long term Canadian project, Coastal, began 6 years ago.
In 2009 I visited Scalpay, Scotland, to see my Uncle David, a fisherman all of his life. As we fished, he told me in Gaelic "Far nachbian-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 the island and 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 through the foggy water, his crew huddled in the back, sitting on the cold sea. Something woke up inside me.
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 and began the Coastal project; traveling to every province and territory to learn, look and experience coastal culture in Canada.
I think of the project as a poem to pay homage to the people and the cultures of the Canadian coast.
When presented, the images are not supposed to be geographical or chronological in order, they are meant to be a connection of all things coastal. Viewed together they are linked by a shared love of tradition, folklore and heritage - a celebration of Canadian coastal life.
I strive to be proactive as an image-maker, a storyteller, to look deeper and beyond the ordinary and the everyday, using reality to cross boundaries, conceptually and aesthetically. I aim to make photographs that record the spirit of the place, and often these images reflect the rapid way in which our culture is changing.
Archival theorist Kenneth Foote (1990. American Archivist Journal) writes that archival work must be proactive in order for archival collections to avoid becoming “a memory of last resort” I embrace this concept creatively and continue to work on the Coastal Project.