Born in the suburbs of Toronto, I began my art training by enrolling in the Ontario College of Art at the age of 19. My education was short lived however, when faced with mounting debt, I made the difficult decision to quit school and begin working. The separation between art and myself was short lived. As a professional carpenter I found myself working in urban and industrial landscapes that I felt compelled to capture with my camera.
In the photographic work I was creating over the past few years, I captured textures and colour; form, line and accidental composition, and printed that work to a two-dimensional surface and framed and mounted it in a number of ways.
In the middle of 2013 I realized this way of working was not satisfying me in the way it had. I was having a harder and harder time finding new places and things to photograph that satisfied my need to move forward as an artist, to advance and adapt to where the work wanted me to go. And the camera and printing process put the work at a distance from me as the hunter/gatherer, and from the viewer, who could only sense the tactile nature of the subject.
The first step to becoming more in touch with what I wanted and where the work wanted to go was to personalize the images with something I had added. I missed paint. Photography is a wonderful medium, but coming from a background in painting, I wanted to create and play, as well as photograph and display. This process began with some older work I had in the studio. One day, in September, I started to paint on the images. Brushing, spraying and splattering. It was very cathartic. Freeing.
But I wanted one more thing. I wanted to give the viewer the texture. I wanted to cut out that section of floor or wall and recognize it as the beautiful detail it was. The reproduction was no longer enough. I needed to display the actual item.
So I experimented with steel sheets, rusting them, adding the paint, adding the reclaimed up-cycled lumber to add depth and support the steel. My canvas was not going to be a paper print of the decaying and distressed materials, my canvas was going to be made of these materials. The viewer can see and touch and be with the actual elements I was presenting to them in the previous photographic works.
The addition of the animal silhouettes began when I started to see landscape imagery coming out of the patina and oxidization of the materials. The haunting detail-less outline of a deer or moose in what could be a misty dawn or a sunset lends the cold and harsh material choice a contemplative, peaceful slant. The juxtaposition of the man made construction materials being used to remind us of humankind’s unending encroachment on nature and the habitat of plant and animal life creates a kind of disturbing contrast: The garbage that makes up this work came from building things that displaced the very same wildlife it now imitates.
Watermark Project Contributor
Find out how Ragged Lake has influenced Ian. Read Ian's Watermark.