Life in the Knife Exhibition

On September 29th I held my first solo exhibition at the Shenkman Arts Centre in Ottawa.  It was the culmination of more than two years work on the project and one year putting it together.  I learned much in the process and have a new found respect for the art of exhibition design.  I am very proud to see my images professionally framed (by Morgan of Wallack’s) and hanging in such a beautiful space.  I had wanted to share my experience living North of the 60th parallel in a more tangible way than sharing them online, while hoping at the same time to possibly inspire more Canadians to visit the great white north.

I certainly couldn’t have done it alone and am totally appreciative of the guidance I received from SPAO (School of Photographic Arts Ottawa) and the financial support from ARTicipate and the City of Yellowknife. Thanks also to Fujifilm Canada who have supported my work by ensuring I had the latest and greatest camera equipment while living North of the 60th parallel. Huge thanks to my friend Bill Braden for his curatorial text and his wife Val for the tasty Northwest Territories High Bush Cranberry and Blackberry jams. Thanks to my husband Eddie who baked approximately three dozen Bannock loaves to serve our guests. And thanks to Mike Taylor of the City of Ottawa who so expertly guided me through the entire process. And finally thanks to all my friends and fans who came out to view my exhibition and for your kind comments.  

Curatorial Text

Yellowknife is the kind of place that brings out the best in a photographer.

Maybe it’s the light… our 24 hours of summer daylight are so rich and fluid, you can drink them. In the deep of winter, the light is crisp and crunchy, like the dry snow under our Steiger mukluks.

It might also be something about the people who live here. We’re truck drivers and government guys and Dene elders and mobs of restless kids, every one of us with a vibrant face that wants to tell the lens our whole story.

Then again, it’s gotta be the land, the water and the sky. Crafted by nature’s ancient hand billions of years ago, the old grey rocks under us, the diamond-clear water around us, and the vast sky above us, waving with green and magenta aurora, are our soul.

Dyanne Wilson, in her two brief years as a Yellowknifer, nailed all of this. The proof is in her natural curiosity and her own photographic voice, evident in the clean, precise way she composes and edits her images. Each print tells us a story, revealing something about who it portrays, or the kind of day it is, or why that horizon or that cloud is important.

Dyanne and I met by chance, on the late spring ice one evening at the Government Dock in Old Town in 2016, when we spotted each other’s Fujifilm cameras and said hello. Since then, we’ve traipsed over the rocks, shot the aurora, and her technical adroitness solved many technical tangles for me.

I’m sorry that my “Fuji Buddy” left town so soon, but I’m proud to see her telling her stories about Yellowknife here in Ottawa.

Bill Braden

July 2019

Bill Braden has lived in Yellowknife and Whitehorse since 1964. He runs billbradenphoto, a commercial photography, editorial writing and aurora guiding service.  He has authored four photo books on northern topics. 

And if you haven’t yet seen the show, it isn’t too late!  The show will be on until October 22nd.  I hope you get a chance to drop by. 

Travelling to Jasper

“The whole point of taking pictures is so that you don’t have to explain things with words.”— Elliott Erwitt

Since March we’ve been travelling quite a bit and I certainly have been neglecting my blog in a sense preferring the immediate ease and feedback of posting images to my Instagram account (@dyannewilson). I also subscribe to Elliott Erwitt’s idea that the whole point of taking photographs is not to have to explain everything. 

Most recently we have returned from a week long trek to Edmonton and Jasper.  The purpose of our trip to Edmonton was to have some car maintenance done which can’t be done where we live in Yellowknife.  Also my Epson 3800 printer needed some repair.  It is a two day drive to Edmonton, which is the nearest major city where these kinds of services can be had.  Since it is hardly worth driving two days just to get car and printer repairs done, and we had a bit of time before Eddie had to get back to work, and with Jasper being just another four hours drive away, we decided to go to Jasper for a mini three day holiday.  I love being in Jasper.  I love the mountains and the cool crisp air.  I love how majestic they are and I contemplate how long they have been there.  I imagined that my mother and father had visited the same place nearly 60 years ago and that now they were gone.  It reminded me of how short our time is on this planet and to reflect on what is important.  I think I could easily just spend a week there by myself with my camera and a notebook.  

I finished reading David Duchemin’s latest book: The Soul of the Camera where he argues that while the tools matter of course, it is only by reflecting our authentic selves and by having something to say can we make work that moves people.  And before you can move others you must make photos that are important to you.  He reminds us that life is not about photography but that photography is about life.  

So then here are the photographs from our recent trip to Jasper and what I deem important.  I hope you enjoy them. 

Originally published June 29, 2017

2017 in Pictures: June-December

Seeing is not enough. You have to feel what you photograph. - Andre Kertesz 

Following our trip to Ottawa we decided that it would be a good time to visit the Rockies one more time as they were only a two-day drive away or 22 hours if you drive straight through which is what we did on the return.  

Contrary to the short winter days, summer days are quite long with the sun setting at 11:45 pm around the summer solstice and rising again around 3:15 am.   The summer can be quite pleasant albeit with a few more bugs then you would find down south. The swimming season seemed to start near the end of June and Saydee and I would find ourselves trying out some Paddleboarding on Back Bay. 

There are also many good festivals to participate in such as the Biannual Fly-In, Folk on the Rock, Canada Day festivities and the Old Town Ramble and Ride. There was also the weekly farmers-market on Tuesdays.  

Against my better judgement, I asked Fujifilm Canada if I could try out their new medium format camera: the GFX50s which sports a 50mb mammoth sized sensor.  I say it was against my better judgement because I thought I might like it too much and given that the camera costs over $8,000 Canadian, that might be a problem.  Oh well it would be something to worry about later.  For our last six weeks in the North and for the beginning of Aurora season I was able, thanks to Fujifilm Canada, really give it a good test run.  I would begin my People of the North project, use it for a Dene wedding and obviously shoot the Aurora which starts up again in the middle of August. Needless to say I was extremely impressed with the quality of the images.  

Finally it was time to begin our journey home to Ottawa.  We left Yellowknife on October 6th and drove for 10 days via High Level, Edmonton, Banff, Moose Jaw, East Braintree, Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie and Ottawa.   We arrived in Ottawa on October 16th after covering approximately 5800 kilometres.  We have such an incredibly large and beautiful country and we have much reason to celebrate.  And people from all over the world, particularly the Asian countries are flocking to Yellowknife for it is the best place in the world to see the Aurora.  Just saying.

I guess to summarize, photography for me is personal.  It is how I best express my inner self.  I am not doing it to try to impress anyone or for the glamorous lifestyle :)  Certainly I appreciate that others seem to enjoy my photographs but it is not my raison d’etre. It is to discover and remember that which is important to me: beauty of our land, legacy and home. 

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