Tuesday, February 17, 2009

An Uneasy Beauty Worth the Uneasiness of Surrey

On Sunday three of my friends and I ventured into shell shocked Surrey to check out "An Uneasy Beauty", the collection of Edward Burtynsky's photographs of Western Canada now on display at the Surrey Art Gallery until March 22nd. Admission is by donation (recommended minimum is $2), but we each put in $5 and the exhibit is well worth it even though the gallery itself is quite small.

The large format photos reveal the vast scale and beauty of wilderness desecrated by industrial progress. Aerial shots of Fort Mac Murray, Alberta portray a land razed by humans, the pattern of pipes, roads, and mining equipment terrifyingly beautiful; a reminder of the cost of making money at the expense of the environment. It will be interesting to see the change in Alberta's lucrative oil industry after Obama meets with Harper and puts pressure on the Federal Government to cut back on the use of non-renewable resources and perhaps change the political landscape for the better.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Surrey Gets Cultured

Edward Burtynsky, a Canadian photographer renown for his photographs of landscapes altered by industry, will be giving an illustrated presentation at the Surrey Art Gallery on Thursday Feb 12th at 7pm. Unfortunately, the event is sold out, which may be why the "buy tickets" link on the gallery website has been broken since over a week ago when I tried to buy my ticket online. However, if last minute tickets are not possible, you can at least see his exhibit, "Edward Burtynsky: An Uneasy Beauty – Photographs of Western Canada," which runs until March 22nd. According to the Georgia Straight, Burtynsky donated all 37 photos from the exhibition to the Surrey Art Gallery. I find it somehow fitting that Burtynsky was the artist to make such a significant and generous donation. His images reveal the juxtaposition of beauty within hideousness, which seems an appropriate metaphor for Surrey's usually poor public image as the blight of the lower mainland.

The photo above is entitled "Iberia Quarries #3", which Burtynsky took in Portugal in 2006 and was featured on the cover of the July/August 2007 issue of The Walrus.