Pilgrimage [About ABC Experiencing]

Captured Beam
T'aanuu, Gwaii Haanas, June 13, 1999

Trees in Transition
T'aanuu, Gwaii Haanas, June 13, 1999

Dying Lower Branches
T'aanuu, Gwaii Haanas, June 13, 1999

Forest Wall Opening
Swan Islets, Gwaii Haanas, June 14, 1999

Trunks and Moss
Swan Islets, Gwaii Haanas, June 14, 1999

Fallen Branches
Swan Islets, Gwaii Haanas, June 14, 1999

Moss-covered Tree Fragments
Swan Islets, Gwaii Haanas, June 14, 1999

For further information about ABC Experiencing, please contact:
Karen Close keclose@yahoo.com
telephone: 705-835-5710  facsimile: 705-835-5726

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By Karen Close

Where is the literature, which gives expression to Nature? He would be a poet who could impress the winds and streams to his service, to speak for him; who nailed words to their primitive senses... who derived his words as often as he used them - transplanted them to his page with earth adhering to their roots; whose words were so true and fresh and natural that they would appear to expand like buds at the approach of spring... from Walking by Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)

Although 1839 is attributed as the dawn of photography and the daguerreotype practice flourished throughout the1840's and 50's, in his lifetime Thoreau could not have predicted that it would be the photographic image, not literature that would capture Nature's true expression. From inception photographers have sought lofty goals:

"My aspirations are to ennoble photography ...by combining the real & Ideal and sacrificing nothing of Truth by all possible devotion to Poetry and beauty..." Julia Margaret Cameron 

The Queen Charlotte Series recently produced by Canadian photographer, Jeremy Taylor, resonates with Thoreau's and Cameron's desires. This is a remarkable series; beginning with the story of its birth, through the chronicle of its process and anticipating its altruistic goals, the series fulfills the most noble of fine arts' intents and speaks to those who believe art can change the world. Taylor's eye saw one of Nature's mystical paradises, Haida Gwaii, 'Place of Wonder', and recorded compositions of wisdom and enduring strength. The detail his technical proficiency brings to these images denotes master craftsmanship. During the year 2000 Taylor will market these images for the benefit of young 'at risk' adolescents.

"I do photography because I feel drawn to it. I love the process of doing my work. It almost seems automatic for me to be making photographs." Jeremy Taylor, August 27, 1999 

As I contemplated writing this article, I briefly discussed my impressions about the series and the proposed content for this article, with Taylor. The above was his response. Yet I persist in seeing a greater significance. Research of his life, probing conversation, personal convictions and dreams reveal the hand of destiny. In the late thirties Fred Taylor (Jeremy's father) was motivated to paint images of socialist realism by a dynamic woman active in the fledgling Canadian Communist Party. The roots of the party ultimately withered when struck with the realization that Marx's idealistic dreams for mankind were not the true objective of Russia's Communist leaders. However, in the late thirties, when Jeremy Taylor was a child absorbing his parents' values, dreams were strong.

"Irene Kon took the time to see the paintings offered Taylor and encouraged him to use his 'facilities, abilities and talents to help his fellow men'... Irene's was a utopian dream that flew in the face of the evidence around her, a tenacious belief that mankind was potentially warm, cultured and beautiful...Irene, like Bethune, (Norman) believed in universal happiness... 'We believed we could build a better world, a world of co-operation, a world of people who would listen to one another, and it was our love for one another that gave us such energy... Irene and others talked to Fred about the importance of art and the place it would have in the world after the revolution, and he enjoyed both the feeling of belonging to something warm and the concern for himself and his work. It was a welcome relief from the old family constraints: coming down the stairs towards his father on Sunday to be inspected for "church parade", shoes shined, buttons perfect, terrified, as a friend recalled, 'that he wouldn't measure up to whatever it was that was expected of a Taylor.' He was stimulated by the enthusiasm and talent of those in the Artists' Group who were committed to producing socially relevant work. He thought of himself not as an effete, isolated romantic, but as "an art worker" with a definite function and place in society". 1

When I first became acquainted with Jeremy Taylor's photographs I felt the same draw that Irene Kon felt for his father's works. At that time I had not heard the history, nor seen Fred Taylor's work. The times and political climate have changed but the human need for inspiration and for art to enlighten remain. 

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