Apr 24, 2014
After the great response I got to the first part of my grain elevator photo set I went searching for a few images that I remembered shooting years ago. These two shots of the grain elevators in Morse, Saskatchewan are from October 2005, and the reason that I wanted to find them is that both elevators have been demolished. I even found a video of one collapsing, which can be viewed below. It just goes to prove my point that these wooden icons of the prairie are becoming history.
Apr 21, 2014
The wooden grain elevator is an icon of the prairies. Towering and monolithic, few buildings encapsulate the identity and history of Western Canada so completely. They've become a stereotype of an entire region, and yet year after year they've been disappearing from the landscape. Occasionally abandoned, more often demolished, you'd be hard pressed to find a wooden grain elevator in many major centres anymore - none spring to mind in fact.
Driving from Medicine Hat, Alberta to Regina, Saskatchewan I made a concerted effort to stop in small communities along the Trans Canada Highway to photograph any of the remaining wooden elevators that I could spot. From Gull Lake to Mortlach, I allowed myself to get lost in the local scenery. Towns that I'd driven through a hundred times before became uncharted territory that was suddenly worth exploring.
After editing all of my images for this three part series, the value of what I'd come away with sank in. If I had done this a decade ago there would've been so many more elevators to seek out. Thus is the appeal. Photographing places that aren't often thoroughly documented makes them more profound in the long run. After a few years the work is more than art, it's a rare archive of something that most people didn't even notice until it was gone.
Apr 18, 2014
Last month I received an email from student teacher, Jarrett Bardal who was working at Isabel F. Cox School in Redcliff, Alberta. As part of his practicum he was tasked with coming up with a project that would involve all of the 300+ students and staff members at the school. Jarrett's idea was to blow up an image that captured the essence of Redcliff, cut it into squares, and then have each student and staff member artistically recreate their own square for a giant collage.
Jarrett's search for images lead him to my site and an image that I shot of the Redcliff water tower in 2012. He explained his idea to me, and in addition to donating my image for the project, I was genuinely excited to see how it would all turn out. Isabel F. Cox is a K-3 school, and just yesterday I finally got to see the result of everyone's work.
Made up of over 300+ squares from the students and staff, the final piece is a colourful mosaic rich in detail. Knowing that so many hands were involved in bringing the interpretation to life, I found myself immediately drawn to each of the little squares. From the youngest kids who coloured squares for the sky to the girders and rivets done by the later grades, the resulting artwork is a captivating depiction of one of the community's landmarks - and a complete reinvention of my photograph.
I want to thank Jarrett Bardal for choosing my photograph for his project, and also congratulate all of the students and staff at Isabel F. Cox School in Redcliff for their beautiful work. Creativity inspires creativity, and this project brought that idea full circle for me. I'm proud to know that this will be hanging in the school for years to come.