Glenwillow Fur Farm

Welcome to the Pasture

Jeffrey Douglas's photographic philosophy evolved not only from his rural upbringing, but also from the haunting obsolescence of the pioneer cemeteries, vanished villages, decaying farmhouses and rusting machinery that decorated the backdrop of his childhood. The studio, situated on the farm where he grew up, is smack in the middle of several formerly bustling villages and commercial centers—Glenwillow, Walkers, Macksville, North Ekfrid, Napier—now ghost towns with a few lingering houses. Adorning the property are the remnants of horse-drawn farm equipment, overgrown with vegetation every spring, and the decaying cement foundation of the farm's first barn, destroyed by a tornado some 70 years ago, but persisting like a farm version of Stonehenge. Modern technological interruptions of natural, rural, and wilderness spaces—a refrigerator plunked in front of a decaying barn, a soda can at the foot of a deteriorating piano, a Toronto streetcar taking on new life as a rural lawn ornament, an Old Spice cologne bottle adorned with spider webs on the window sill of an abandoned farmhouse—are his artistic objects of desire. Apart from exhibiting photography in cities ranging from Toronto to Calgary, Jeffrey has published poetry, artwork and essays with several Canadian magazines (Qwerty, filling Station, The Torontoist, English Studies in Canada) and has had films screened at the Ottawa International Animation Festival and the Canadian Film Centre. You can find the tome-length espousal of his photographic drive in a dissertation entitled “Refuse to Relic: Neopastoral Artifacts and the Phenomenology of Environment,” currently housed at McMaster University in Hamilton.

In her watercolour experiments, Duru Gungor treats the photographic moment as a first variation in an open-ended series of possibility. Given the subjective nature of photographic reality, which captures a specific mood impressed upon a specific junction of time, she seeks to enter the captured scene as a new subject, a stranger to the land and the landscape alike, to piece together the story of abandoned and taciturn objects now colored by the spectator's consciousness. She takes pleasure in the chance aptness of this approach for a relatively new resident of Canada, engaged in a slow discovery of Ontarian farmlands through sensation, empathy and imagination.

 

The processes of the typical tourist, detective, or archaeologist do not explain the relationship between photography and Gungor’s creative methods. Mood inevitably bleeds into the treated scene. It becomes impossible to distinguish the ghosts of the land from those haunting the painter. Secretly animated by more lives—and deaths—than can be told, a grey landscape acquires sepia hues, precisely after the manner of black-and-white photographs that have been coloured later on; a nearing storm is re-imagined as fiercely ravaging fields, and a happy tree in springtime skips ahead into the ripe hues of fall. At times, the expressive range of the scene is teased out simply through variations on the medium, switching from watercolours to Chinese ink on rice paper. The exclusion of colour and the crinkled, worn texture of the paper by themselves serve as commentary on the texture and weight of time.

Ru-Ex

Rural Exploration.