In the heart of Kingston, Ontario
at Kingston Art Gallery
My photographs of bridges, taken across Canada and Britain, present a layering of landscapes, the natural with that of human design.
I am interested in how these landscapes exist in relation to one another and are made distinct by their opposition—nature occurs where there is no human activity and the human where nature has been organized and subsumed.
Bridges are a focal point for investigating the boundary between these natural and human domains. The span of a bridge creates a space where human activity is almost freed from nature, while the terrain below asserts the inscrutable processes of the environment. Like a walled garden, the archetypal structure that delineates paradise from the wilderness, bridges reveal a moment where the natural and the human are pulled apart, neither interrupting nor dominating the other, defining an alternate relationship.
I approach each bridge as a point of balance and tension between these forces: the supreme control and engineering of some nearly casting out the wilderness below, the crude doggedness of others evidence of their inextricable bond to nature. But in all of these images, I visualize an act of becoming, a moment of creation, or perhaps a fall, whereby the image of nature and the trajectory of human design are freshly severed, and how, in time, they might come together.
Shawn Butler is an artist and architect living and working in Kingston, Ontario. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from Mount Allison University, where he was introduced to large format photography, and went on to obtain a Master of Architecture degree from Dalhousie University in Halifax. Born and raised in northern British Columbia, he has lived and worked in and around nature, and his photographic work explores our relationship to the natural world.
Unit 4 - 35 Johnson Street
Open by appointment only.