MAIN SPACE EXHIBITION
JANUARY 10 – FEBRUARY 1, 1997
RECEPTION: FRIDAY, JANUARY 10, 1997 AT 8 PM
LOCATION – STRIDE GALLERY
722, 11 AVE S.W, CALGARY, ALBERTA
SARAH CRAWLEY is a visual artist who lives and works in Winnipeg, MB. Her practice is concerned with ideas generated from lived experience using different photographic technologies and materials.
“My work is instinctive…. resulting in a slow building of sequenced, stories and remembrances. A strong attachment to… where my ancestors lived, led me to explore places from my childhood. There, feelings of loss, fears of change, family history and memory motivated the creation of dreamlike, increasingly abstract images. Through loose poetic, formal and visual associations these images form a fragmented narrative of my experience.” -Sarah Crawley
A photograph is not a window on unvarnished reality. We know that the striking, spontaneous image of a battle or a disaster we see on the front page of a newspaper is probably a carefully cropped, dodged or digitally manipulated images that has been picked out of innumerable contact sheets.
Sarah Crawley’s work is manipulated too, but she does not use computer-morphing, collage, photomontage techniques or elaborate studio set-ups. Instead, she exploits light leaks – no less an empirical record of light than anything else in her photographs – and distortions which are endemic to exposing film in her $14.99 Holga camera (her other camera is a cheap Sea Gull). She then employs a beautifully painterly printing technique to imbue her light-leaking figures and landscapes with radioactive glamour and dread. At stride, she shows large color prints that resulted from a recent residency opportunity she had at the Banff Centre.
Crawley’s subject matter is ordinary: photographs of children in Winnipeg playgrounds; self-portraits; pictures of her sister; church graveyards from her ancestral home in Minnedosa, Manitoba and images of insects. The ordinary subject matter arouses a sense of suspense in the finished work – an expectation that something extraordinary is about to happen. Crawley uses specific individual techniques to make her ordinary subjects strange.
The artist exploits deliberate accidents in her technical process of creating the photographs. Some look as if they were taken surreptitiously. In fact, Crawley does not look through the viewfinder when she takes a photograph. In her playground pictures, she often places the camera in her lap as she sits on the ground. Accidents are encouraged as the film is exposed, processed and printed to create the large prints that end the working process.
The artist says her work is about memory. If so, then the accidents- the deliberate blurring of focus and the exaggerated color- contribute to a sense of the work being about memory fragments made more concrete but no more precise. Crawley highlights the imperfections of memory in her work.
CLIFF EYLAND is a Winnipeg-based painter, curator, and critic.