Grand-Métis, August 21, 2023 – The Reford Gardens open the temporary exhibition Dernière lueur / Last Light by photographic artist Christine Fitzgerald on Wednesday, August 23. The exhibition is on display in the aire Desjardins of the Great hall from August 24 to October 1, 2023, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday to Friday.
Last Light is a haunting new series resulting from artist Christine Fitzgerald’s ongoing visual inquiry along the majestic St. Lawrence River as she engages with 19th discourses of natural history specimen collecting and in-progress environmental stewardship to protect vulnerable coastal places and species. Her work is centered on the exploration of our relationship with this extraordinary ecosystem with underlying themes of time, precarity, and loss, and the role that photography plays in shaping human experience with these universal aspects of life.
Fitzgerald’s images are formed from her meticulous resuscitation and mastery of obsolete photographic techniques, creating new hybrid modes of seeing by entwining wet plate collodion camerawork and specialized printing techniques such as pigmented impressions on platinotypes. Fitzgerald is interested in creating a tension in her out-of-time images - something that is not quite normal, somewhere between reality and fiction – images that makes you stop and think. Inspired by the spirit of innovation of early pioneers of photography, Fitzgerald adapts and reimagines obsolete photographic methods, often combining multiple techniques to create her unique aesthetic and push her medium’s expressive potential.
Many of the images of Last Light are cloaked in blue, referencing the diminishing capacity for completely dark night sky in the face of human industry and climate change. Fitzgerald’s blue twilight is an elegy to our present moment – caught between the “deep” time of life on Earth, and the advancing effects of the Anthropocene age that we are now experiencing. As the pictorialist Edward Steichen remarked in 1899, twilight is when things melt into each, when we become conscious of the movement of time.
Last Light connects the revival of obsolete technologies of seeing with the urgent imperative to witness the precarity of the natural world in our present time.
Christine Fitzgerald is a photo-based artist who grew up in the Eastern Townships in Quebec, who now lives and works in Ottawa. Her work is inspired by her French-Canadian roots and her love of the natural world. She sees photography as a medium for creating unique physical objects. This growing conviction is the basis of her current artistic practice, as she explores the possibilities of using antiquated methods of image and photographic print making as a means of expression.
A graduate of the School of the Photographic Arts: Ottawa, and Acadia and Dalhousie Universities, Christine completed an artist residency at the Ottawa School of Art, was an invited visiting artist in print media at York University and was one of 15 visual artists selected for the historic Canada C3 Expedition on Canada’s 150th anniversary. The work inspired by her Expedition experience was part of the Open Channels national exhibition in Âjagemô Hall at the Canada Council for the Arts in Ottawa.
Christine has been the recipient of grants from the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts, and numerous awards including the 2016 International Fine Art Photographer of the Year from the Lucie Foundation and was one of the 2017 winners of the International Julia Margaret Cameron Award for women photographers. In 2018, she had the privilege of creating a portrait of Dr. Jane Goodall on the occasion of her 85th birthday. Her work is in public and private collections and has been featured by the CBC, The Washington Post, the Globe and Mail, Artsfile, the National Geographic, and Black+White Photography UK. In 2020, her artwork was at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C. as part of the featured exhibition, New Light: Canadian Women Artists and as part of the Canadian Open Channels Exhibition at the 2020 International Frankfurt Book Fair, in Frankfurt, Germany. She is the 2023 Karsh Award Recipient.
About the Reford Gardens
A National Historic Site of Canada and a Quebec heritage site, the Reford Gardens is a must-see stop for anyone visiting the Gaspé and the Lower St. Lawrence. A cultural space and tourist destination for 60 years, the Reford Gardens are an iconic landscape that offers visitors soothing and innovative experiences of connection to nature. Located at the confluence of the St. Lawrence and Mitis rivers, they were designed by the adventurous horticulturist Elsie Reford from 1926 to 1958 and are listed as one of North America's most famed gardens and one of the world's top 150 great gardens. Hydro-Québec has been the lead sponsor of the Reford Gardens since 1999.
The Reford Gardens are open daily from 8:30 a.m. until Sunday, October 1. Admission is free for children aged 13 and under. Visit www.jardinsdemetis.com for full program details.
The Reford Gardens takes part in the Ministère de la Culture et des Communications' program of free admission to museums for Quebec residents on the first Sunday of the month. The next free Sundays are September 3 and October 1, 2023.
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