Through the Camera Lens: La Cloche, 1900-1950 at AGS

Through the Camera Lens La Cloche 1900-1950Jon and Kerry Butler have been collecting and conserving photographs from the families of the Willisville and La Cloche areas of Ontario for the past 20 years. Through this archiving process, and that of collecting the family stories and community histories that the photographs inspire, the Butlers have become regional experts on the histories and genealogies of La Cloche.

Drawing on their years of research and image collection in the La Cloche region and beyond, Through the Camera Lens: La Cloche, 1900-1950 includes over 130 photographs (and artifacts) that picture the lives and tell the stories of residents of the eastern La Cloche area of the District of Greater Sudbury, including Willisville, Charlton Lake, Whitefish Falls, Bay of Islands, McGregor Bay, Iroquois Bay, Grace Lake and Cranberry Bay as seen through the eyes of settler and visitor photographers.

The La Cloche area was the subject of many of Group of Seven artist Franklin Carmichael’s watercolours and paintings. This exhibition, Through the Camera Lens: La Cloche, 1900-1950, provides significant context for future major exhibitions of Carmichael’s work and that of his contemporaries at the Art Gallery of Sudbury.

Mining, lumbering and the railway initially brought settlers to the interior of the La Cloche area in the early 1900s. Their lives were captured on film for future generations. The lakes and rivers of the watershed were seasonal travel routes linking the Hudson Bay Post on Whitefish Lake, near Sudbury, and connecting it to Lake Huron. The Algoma Eastern Railway (AER), Iinking Espanola to Little Current, was completed between 1911 and 1913, and settlement quickly expanded beyond the shores of Lake Huron. The North Channel and inland lakes became summer destinations for travellers and artists as they found this beautiful area.

“Jon Butler has been a volunteer Board member of the Art Gallery of Sudbury since 2009. He has been a tremendous advocate of the Gallery’s ongoing project of establishing a new Gallery building in the name of La Cloche artist Franklin Carmichael,” Demetra Christakos, the Gallery’s director and curator, comments.

“I was incredibly excited when I learned of Jon and Kerry Butler’s ongoing research project into the photographic history of La Cloche. The images they had already collected were visually cinematic and compelling. Jon and Kerry generously agreed to make their research available for this special 50th anniversary Gallery project. They crafted 15 narratives for the exhibition, and then we worked together to select the images for the exhibition. Nancy Gareh and Martin Kessler produced the video components of the exhibition. This exhibition is a real labour of love.”

Jon and Kerry Butler conducted their research through a Facebook page, La Cloche History, and two books published as community collaborations – The Willisville Mountain Project : Rock Spirit Art (2009), and La Cloche Country: Its History, Art and People (2009). They are each accomplished art photographers of the compelling La Cloche landscape.

The exhibition is the summer feature exhibition at the Art Gallery of Sudbury and runs until September 9, 2018, one of the Gallery’s 50th anniversary year celebratory exhibitions. The exhibition will circulate to the Timmins Museum and National Exhibition Centre in 2020.

Through the Camera Lens: La Cloche, 1900-1950, was funded by the Government of Canada through the Museums Assistance Program, Canadian Heritage.

For more information about the Art Gallery of Sudbury visit their website and Facebook page.

The highway between Sudbury and North Bay was completed in 1912.

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contact: colin@southsidestory.ca

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