Within seconds of walking into the cool and calm gallery space occupied by Coldstream Fine Art, we felt miles away from the chaotic buzz of downtown Toronto. There for the media opening of artist Harrison Taylor’s Ghosts of Ancient Mountains, we were struck by the understatedly hip vibe of the space and the stunning artwork that adorned its walls. While a picture is worth a thousand words (and in the case of this artwork, much more), speaking with Taylor firsthand allowed our appreciation for this collection to expand and deepen. For anyone who has spent a good amount of time convening with nature, Ghosts of Ancient Mountains evokes the physical calm and magical whimsy of an outdoor world that is constantly changing yet always familiar. Inspired by the physical landscape of a remote, inaccessible, and treacherous island on Georgian Bay, Taylor’s collection of photographs are evocative and moving; their blend of artistic manipulation in the form of colour, texture, and light play lends the ancient stones an abstract and dreamlike air, inviting a viewer to form one’s own interpretation of this amazing collection. A native Torontonian, Taylor works mainly in photography, and within this medium explores his passion for abstraction, resulting in a unique fusion that challenges the conventional “limitations” imposed by photography. In speaking with him about his vision for this collection, his attraction to nature as a subject, and his artistic methodology, it is clear that this artist has an eye – not just for detail – but for beauty itself. In asking the artist what drew him to this particular medium – of capturing nature and abstracting it – Taylor’s response was simple: “I have always been inspired by nature, since nature is art in its purest state. My goal as an artist is to represent nature through my own experiences, interactions, and interpretations.” Indeed, when he realized that the physical walls of his Georgian Bay studio were incapable of containing his artistic vision, it was to the world beyond the studio that Taylor turned. He described this moment the way a painter might describe his latest masterpiece, saying, “[While working on this collection], I kept being drawn outside. It finally came to a culminating point, where I stayed up all night, and went for a morning kayak ride as the sun rose over a still-glass lake. Without specific direction and motivation, I was drawn to an island. Keep in mind, I was at a point in which I had to solidify the show, but I didn’t yet have a subject. As soon as I saw this island I saw what I wanted to do before even getting there.”
Caption: Taylor (left) and gallery owner Kariv Oretsky (right).
Inaccessible in that it is an island far from main land, treacherous in that it is exposed to the ocean-like vastness of Georgian Bay, and remote in that it lies on the edge of a wind-battered shore, rendering it undiscovered, uninhabited, and thus, untainted, Taylor’s discovery would prove more than inspirational – it is the focal point of his work, lending a harmonious theme to the collection. It is these factors, on top of the geologic wisdom of the island itself, which makes it such a special subject for Harrison, whose style is decidedly subjective rather than representational. Evident in the clear manipulation of his images (each one of which has a unique look), Taylor’s passion is illustrated in his work. By holding prisms and crystals up to the lens before taking photographs, using water to make the rock seem fluid, and by refracting and defracting light, the artist captures the beauty of nature as he sees it. Even the photographs’ frames – many of which are mirrored along the sides – are used with purpose, as the glass and mirrors evoke the reflective surface of water. In explaining this nuance, Taylor said, “I seek and make subjects that emulate patterns which can be taken out of their context of size and time. This creates a shift in scale that allows for a re-interpretation of reconceived visuals and ideas. As a result, my work suggests a constant struggle between nature and order; a play between what we know and what we are allowed to make up. sheblogs would like to thank Coldstream Fine Art for the opportunity to meet and learn about artistic talent in Toronto. Ghosts of Ancient Mountains will be running until December 1st, 2015. The gallery is located at 80 Spadina Ave, Suite 208. You can follow Coldstream on Facebook and Instagram.