Photographer John Poirier

Gabriola Island forest by John Poirier

Gabriola Island forest by John Poirier

The downtown Nanaimo Art Gallery, 150 Commercial Street, is presenting a feature artist show with John Poirier from January 19 to February 5, 2011. John Poirier is a professional photographer who moved with his family to Gabriola Island B.C. from Yellowknife, Northwest Territories in 2006. John’s show includes images from the rich, wild landscapes of Gabriola and Vancouver islands, juxtaposed with images of stark urban settings from the same areas. His work has been published in the Globe and Mail, New York Times, Canadian Geographic, and Up Here magazine. It is also featured prominently in the books Shield Country and Yellowknife: How a City Grew. Poirier himself explains:

Since the 1970s I have been very aware of the natural processes that underlie our existence. Those processes are founded on complexity and energy of which we have only glimpses. My images are drawn from moments when I felt a particularly strong connection with a natural world that is paradoxically both chaotic and ordered.

For the record, most of the photographs were made in the mid-Vancouver Island area, with a few from Northern Canada. However, the images are more about perception than about specific locations. The prints on display represent a significant step in the evolution of my photography. In my view, prints that combine excellent craft with expressiveness are the highest form of photographic art. From 1986 to 2006 I worked in a highly technical area of photography. I then retired, determined to concentrate on the personal work for which my energy and time had been very limited during the previous two decades. The nature of my technical work was such that there was little room for personal expression in my printing. That constraint spilled over into my personal work. Over the last several years I have shaken off old habits and have been much more assertive about using my technical skills for interpretive purposes. I have concentrated particularly on the nuanced use of tones and colour to complement my chosen subjects.

As my printing has evolved, the way I see has also shifted. The interplay between seeing and printing creates positive feedback and growth. The results are exciting, both personally and in my images. As people are usually curious about the working methods of photographers, here are the nuts and bolts: The photographs in this show were all made on film using vintage cameras. I did all film scanning and image adjustments myself. The prints were made on a large-format inkjet printer with archival inks and papers. The photographs in my 2011 show at the Nanaimo Art Gallery represent a long-term thread in my work.