Comox photographer part of new book

Mother Tongue Publishing of Salt Spring Island launches the long-awaited and beautiful photography book, 111 West Coast Literary Portraits Photographs by Barry Peterson and Blaise Enright.

The book will be unveiled Nov. 17 from 3 to 5 p.m. at the

Vancouver Island Regional Library in Courtenay. There

will be a short talk by Peterson, and several of the writers in the book will read their one-page text. The launch will be followed by light refreshments and books will be available for sale by

Laughing Oyster Books.

Authors Paula Wild and Rick James, Colin and Julie Angus, Charlotte Gill, Joe Rosenblatt, Des Kennedy, Kim Goldberg, Sheila Munro, Amanda Hale, Keith Harrison and Barry Broadfoot are

from Powell River, Comox, Courtenay, Hornby Island, Denman Island, Qualicum Beach and the Nanaimo area, and are included in the book along with many others.

There will be a two-month exhibition of approximately 20 of the portraits at the Nanaimo Museum from Nov. 24 to Jan. 31. For details, visit www.nanaimomuseum.ca.

The book has been in the making for 14 years. The original prints from the book will be exhibited over the next eight months at the McGill Library in North Burnaby, Mahon Hall on Salt Spring Island and the Nanaimo Museum, the Greater Victoria Library, the Arts Council of Greater Victoria Art Gallery and Café and the Silk Purse Gallery in West Vancouver.

It features rare portraits of emerging, mid-career and well-known

writers who have lived in B.C., accompanied by excerpts of their writing.

In 1997, Peterson and Enright became curious about the characters behind the novels and poetry written by B.C. authors and began photographing them. They travelled the Coast and Gulf Islands for six years, seeking the famous and infamous.

They shot over 50 portraits in black and white to contrast the

colourful nature of each writer and to minimize visual distraction from the “character” of each.

“Film photographs have a depth to them that digital can’t duplicate at this point," Peterson says. "Digital images are printed on the surface of the paper, while film images are printed on layers of emulsion in the paper. Film and fibre-based prints have been around for over 180 years, and many of the first prints are still around.”

The photographs became part of Lit Happens, a travelling show that supported literacy and was exhibited in many public spaces in Vancouver and on the Coast, with B.C. Hydro and B.C. Gas as major sponsors.

Between 1999 and 2008, it was exhibited at the Vancouver International Writers Festival, the Pendulum Gallery, Word on the Street, the B.C. Book Prizes Gala, the SFU Reckoning

Conference, the Comox Valley Art Gallery, BC Hydro and the Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts.

Although Peterson and Enright ended their collaboration, Barry continued to seek and photograph B.C. writers, resulting in the sum of 111 portraits in this extraordinary book of unique individuals who define the literary landscape of British Columbia.

Peterson used a Hasselblad camera with Carl Zeiss lenses, considered to be the best in the world. The film was hand-processed to ensure the highest quality.

From the author’s selected negatives, Peterson developed archival fibre-based photographic prints in his darkroom, a time-consuming process that is used very rarely in this digital age. The negatives of the prints were expertly scanned, a time-consuming process, then sent to the book designer.

Peterson completed his BA and masters in social work and worked in the field for several decades. During this time he studied photography at the Ontario College of Art and exhibited in

Winnipeg, Toronto and Vancouver. He also started his own freelance photography business, was a founding member of two artist run galleries in Winnipeg.

He exhibited On the Edge: Putting a Face on Homelessness, 2009-2011. He lives with his wife and stepson in Comox.

Enright studied photography, film and creative writing at the Ontario College of Art and Design. She is studying creative writing at the Kootenay School of the Arts in Nelson.

“When it comes to West Coast writing and publishing, we have gone from famine to feast in less than

a lifetime. This unprecedented array of portraits celebrates the feast.”–Alan Twigg, publisher at B.C.


— Mother Tongue Publishing

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