Friday, October 9, 2009

Ottawa

Yesterday I flew to Ottawa to see Gabor Szilasi’s opening at the CMCP.


Doina Popescu happened to be on the same flight, so we were able to discuss the new Ryerson Gallery and Research Centre which gets more exciting by the day. It will open in the fall of 2010, with its inaugural exhibition in January 2011.


Michel Gauthier graciously gave us a ride downtown and over coffee he reminded me about the great work that Khalia Scott is doing with the School of Photographic Arts: Ottawa, which prompted me to visit. It has a great energy and I was very happy to get a tour with Khalia and hear first hand about their great activities. It is easy to see why this school has become a catalyst for the Ottawa community.


I headed over to see Ann Thomas at the National Gallery to further some research I’m doing with 19th Century photographs. My 1 hour visit lasted over 4 hours! It was so much fun looking through great material with someone so knowledgeable who had as much fun as I did. Amongst the treasures I saw were two albums by Alexander Henderson that made my quite envious. I was also happy to ask her about any new gems that have entered into the collection and she showed me the Frederick Evans ‘Sea of Steps’ that they recently acquired. This was a very special opportunity to hold this historic photograph in my hand and marvel at its beauty. I can only imagine how much pride Evans must have felt when he held the same photograph in his hands for the first time!


We were lucky to have looked at a clock because we were rather lost in the photographs and raced downstairs to catch the tribute for Gabor. He is so deserving of this exhibition that there was a wonderful energy to the opening as colleagues and admirers gathered from all over to share in the occasion. The exhibition looks fantastic, filled with old favourites and new discoveries. There are a good number of photographs I was surprised to not see included in an exhibition of this magnitude, but that only serves to highlight the extraordinary contribution Gabor has made. Congratulations to David Harris for his duration and book, to Musée d'art de Joliette who hosted the first stop of this show and to Martha Hanna and the CMCP for mounting such a terrific exhibition. I hope this collection’s location in the National Gallery gives them the larger audience they deserve. Although no longer in its own building, this collection can remain an important part of Canadian photography. I hope they are able to keep this gallery space and that the Photographs Collection is given at least the same amount of space for their programming.


Stephen

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