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Artist statement: Claire MacDonald
photo work in progress at allsaints : how to decipher the familiar?
The challenge is taking a subject like All Saints Church which is known and presenting it through photos which is a common art form: how to make the viewer think about the imagery in a different light?
recycled plastic boxes (step 1)
The recycled plastic containers you see on the wall hold church images, some cropped and recombined. I hope this approach helps emphasize colour, shape and texture without necessarily viewing a complete picture which would be easier to grasp without much thought.
Each box holds a story. The parameters are clear and at the same time unknown. Maybe the story continues outside of the box? Maybe the box removes you from what you know since it adds an extra dimension to what you see and understand.
The boxes act like a prism and focus light on the imagery in different ways depending on the shape and texture of the containers.
There is the idea of repackaging the familiar – using recycled packages to do just that.
All Saints Church is being transformed into allsaints.
maps (step 2, to come)
Matching a photo story series to an existing map provides a moment to consider the connections of images to place names, shapes and colours on a large format map. Language becomes part of the expression, more stories are created on the page.
The series of photos being used represents an event at allsaints when Habitat for Humanity came to move donated pews out of the church and into one very large truck.
I have a collection of donated maps that people have given me over the years to use in collages. I looked through the maps to choose one to use as a background to a thumbnail series of photos taken at allsaints. I’m trying to tell a linear story without too many straight lines.
I chose a map of Atlantic Canada because the colour fits a series of thumbnail photos to be used: orange and blues are working together. The map is from the 1963 Canadian Geographical Journal.
By controlling where I place the photos, I reinvent the map and deliver Newfounland as foundland. As with the recycled boxes, the church is being reinvented since its ‘founding’. Makes me think of ‘foundling’.
The photo imagery ends towards the Bay of Plancentia with a sleeping child above (true to the event). Story begins at Presqu’île at top map and includes name places like Conception Harbour, Angel’s Cove, L’Anse-Amour and Main-à-Dieu among other interesting locations.
I even found Fleur-de-lys as a location which reflects the choir pews with their twin fleur-de-lys ends. What part of this is chance, what part is manipulated? And yes there is a Chance Cove on the map!
Place-reference to St Mary’s Bay is also echoed in photos by using a photo image of St Mary featured in the church’s dedicated stained glass window to Sir Robert Borden. I took some photos of the window as I waited for Habitat to work out some of the finer details of moving 16’ pews, somewhat like delivering a child to get them out of the church: gestation 100 years.
On a personal note, the little green island has both Baie-Sainte-Claire and Cape Robert as name places. That will be my signature.
I’ve made a separate list of ‘Saint’ names found on the map. The names are a direct nod to All Saints Church.
photo collage (step 3, to come)
Another step in this series will be to show photos of allsaints taken over the last year as a photo collage. This is another way of looking at something familiar in a different way.
I will catalogue the process in a notebook which will be available at allsaints as work progresses. Stay tuned.