THE PHOTOGRAPHIC HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF CANADA

Carte Blanche & The Magenta Foundation - June 21st, 2006

MaryAnn Camilleri, President

MaryAnn kicked things off with a brief history of the Magenta Foundation. Returning to Toronto from over a decade of working in New York publishing industry, she discovered the exciting images being created here and decided to  put together a high quality art book featuring Canadian photographers. To create the book, MaryAnn first had to form a company to publish fine art books in Canada as none existed. As president of the fledgling foundation, her first task was to find and attract talented staff, and the essential sponsor base needed to fund the endeavour. She noted. "to establish Magenta and get Carte Blanche published, I  had to move mountains". As beautiful as Carte Blanche is, MaryAnn feels the best is still to come for Magenta. "Some talk about history, some read about history, and some make history". MaryAnn makes history.

MaryAnn Camilleri

"Magenta creates a portal for Canadian talent and expands international awareness of our artists." To begin the book, MaryAnn first created a jury list of people with the talent to select and recommend artists. Seventeen jurors were chosen and assigned to one of six categories (which became four in the book). Three jurors per category plus a fourth for the largest category (Fine Arts). A call for submissions went out and by the December 2004 deadline there were over 1,100 submissions, augmented by some additional images from photographers who were invited to participate. She described how she would painstakingly going over each image with five editors and if not satisfied, it was back to the photographer.

 MaryAnn credits the jurors for making the book - her role was to coordinate the activities in what became an 18 month labour of love resulting in a contemporary book of Canadian photography. A sample copy of Carte Blanche was available for browsing and MaryAnn had a few fresh copies which she autographed while enthusiastic members snapped them up at $50 a piece - the going price on Amazon. 

Carte Blanche is a five pound coffee table size book. Its die cut cover shows the rich magenta and plum colours of the fly pages. Douglas Coupland, one of the featured photographers wrote the forward while MaryAnn gives her remarks in a preface. The selected photographs are grouped into four sections: Fine Art, Documentary+Photojournalism, Editorial+Commercial, Emerging. The images in each section are in alphabetical order by photographer. The images are followed by a listing of the contributors and then the jury members. The contributors section gives a brief biography of the selected photographers - complete with a portrait of the artist, and contact information. 

Carte Blanche cover

After an absence of over a decade, doing Carte Blanche was a terrific introduction to what is currently going on in Canada. She was pleasantly surprised with the variety and quality of work. She noted that while "publishing is a costly venture, I am  confident that Canada has some exceptional talent". She feels that Carte Blanche belongs in every library as a source book and reference on today's Canadian photographic talent. 

After her introduction, MaryAnn selected sample images from the book, commenting on the image and photographer, often explaining why the image was selected for the book. To give a sense of that part of the presentation, I have selected some personal favourites from the book and added notes on the photographer.

Brian Howell's B&W flash shot of the "Asian Cougar" in mid-air brought back memories of the 1950s when Whipper Billy Watson and Gorgeous George played the local arenas in Ontario and even appeared in televised matches. The image is from a series called "One Ring Circus - extreme wresting in the minor leagues". Documentary photographer Howell is a Vancouver native. He studied still photography at Ryerson in Toronto. You can see more of his work including other images in the wrestling series on his web site.

Brian Howell - Asian Couger

Sarah Thorpe took this untitled image of a girl posed in a bath tub. The thumb nail shows only part of the image - the enlarged image includes the Value Village tag identifying the garment worn as size M, price $1.99. This is one of a series of images of girls wearing lingerie. Thorpe is one of the emerging artists in the book. She is from Windsor where she graduated from the University of Windsor with a BFA. She also earned a diploma in Photography & Printmaking at the Ontario College of Art & Design. She does not have a web site at the moment.

Sarah Thorpe - untitled

Tom Feiler's "Chinet Road Show" is a delightful parody of the now slightly travel weary "Antique Road Show" series. I was delighted by the tongue in cheek inspection of a paper plate.... I can almost hear the expert asking the lady if she realizes what her plate is worth. Tom is from Welland, but presently operates in Toronto. He is another Ryerson Photography grad. He specializes in commercial photography. Tom does hilarious work - you've seen it in recent paper and TV ads. You can find more information on these three web sites: Tom Feiler, West Side Studio, and Radke Films.

Tom Feiler - Chinet Road Show

Thomas Fricke's portrait of Guy Maddin caught my eye as I am a fan of the Toronto International Film Festive which has featured Maddin's work. Of course the humour of the "hot dog" lunch helped as well... Mr Fricke is an Editorial and Commercial photographer in Winnipeg. Born in Hamilton, his educational credentials include a BA from the U of T, and a first year photographic studies at Ryerson. You can view many other images of well known people - some in whimsical poses - on his web site.

Thomas Fricke - Guy Maddin

Regina Garcia's portrait "Waitress in a Diner" captures the calm of a break after the night ends and one can sit and reflect on the day's events. Regina was born in Mexico and now resides in Toronto after attending the Alberta College of Art and Design in Calgary to study photography. She is a commercial photographer with a number of well known corporate clients. Visit her web site to see more of her work.

Regina Garcia - Waitress in a Diner

Edward Burtynsky's two page spread "Manufacturing #18 Cankun Factory" is an arresting image with its yellows, grays, and greens. Such large-scale studies of industrial vistas are his specialty. If you visit the Toronto International Film Festival this month (September 2006) you can catch Jennifer Baichwal's cinematic portrait of Burtynsky, "Manufactured Landscapes". Edward is a Toronto-based photographer, educated at Ryerson Polytech and Niagara College. You can learn more about this photographer and view many more stunning examples of his work at full screen size by visiting his web site.

Edward Burtynsky - Manufacturing #18

Louis Joncas' untitled image from his series "Detritus" is a still life study mostly in shades of white. He is a Winnipeg native now based in Montreal. He attended both the University of Ottawa (BFA) and Montreal's Concordia (MFA). His Detritus series consists of still life images of the "detritus of domestic life and everyday survival". You can read more by visiting the web site of the gallery that features his work: "Pierre-François Ouellette art contemporain"

Louis Jonca - untitled - Detrtus

Arnaud Maggs' photograph "Werner's nomenclature of Colours" is another still life - this time pages from an old book on colour. Born in Montreal in 1926, Maggs resides in Toronto. His images have been featured in many exhibits and books. It was my fondness for old books attracted me to this image of a two page table with hand written labels and splashes of colour. You can see a bit more of his current work by visiting the Susan Hobbs Gallery web site (note: if you have Zone Alarm firewall software activated, it may block the gallery images from loading).

Arnaud Maggs - Werner's nomenclature of Colours

Alain Paiement's image "Local Rock" shows the four walls, floor and ceiling of a small music studio as if the room had been split at the corners and its ceiling peeled back. The room seems barely large enough to hold the young quartet. He is a Montrealer through and through with both a BFA and MFA from the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM). His web site was not ready for viewing at the time this page was posted (September 2006) - I like the "under construction" image on his web site. Definitely a Paiement photograph!

Alain Paiement - Local Rock

Greg Girard - Shared Bathroom, Shanghai, 2003 Graydon Sheppard - Knowledge Chris Woods - untitled April Hickox - untitled (teapot)

The images at left were featured in a book review that appeared in issue 32-2 of the journal Photographic Canadiana. I have included them here so you can see them in a larger size and in colour (other than April Hickox's wonderful black & white study).

Chris Woods
April Hickox
Greg Girard
Graydon Sheppard

A special thanks to Tiit Kodar, our resident videographer. This evening our finely oiled presentation system suffered from a bit of grit and it took Tiit's technical wizardry to present MaryAnn's PDF slides. Mark Singer brought his own laptop, unaware that a friend's adjustments made it incompatible with his projector. A couple of other members with presentation experience tried to solve the problem, but by then it was too late. In tinkering with the screen settings, I set something wrong and the projector refused to recognize the laptop. It was Tiit who came up with a suitable work around: video camera wired to projector, camera pointed at laptop screen, and voila! Through all this MaryAnn was a pinnacle of patience...


Thanks to MaryAnn Camilleri for permission to show some of the images from Carte Blanche on this page. The images were mostly scanned directly from the book with an Epson Perfection 4870 Photo. Adjustments were made in Photoshop CS2. Contents and images are ©2006 by MaryAnn Camilleri, the Magenta Foundation, and the photographer named as the creator of the image. Contact PHSC if you would like more information on the items discussed on this page.

Click on the small images to see a larger version in a separate window.

Bob Carter

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