PHOTOGRAPHER’S WORK FEATURED AT CONTACT PHOTOGRAPHY FESTIVAL
By Kristin Eliason
James Brylowski, photographer and owner of the company Solid Porcupine Inc., showcased his work for the first time this May as part of Scotiabank’s 2012 CONTACT Photography Festival.
His exhibition, “Stop! and eat the roses … ” included images from Thailand, Utah, Cambodia, Iceland, Western and Eastern Canada.
It is a culmination of photographs captured and developed throughout the years.
Brylowski, however, is not new to photography. He has been shooting since he was 10 years old. It was as early as then that he began to develop black and white photos in a dark room in his home.
Having worked commercially for over 10 years, this is the first exhibition of Brylowski’s own work.
Aimed at capturing raw scenes and dramatic nature, he describes his images as moody and dark, and his collection as an attempt to “evoke the feeling of seeing the world through virgin eyes.”
Many people have become jaded by being exposed to awesome images, he says, but we can learn to enjoy life again by learning to appreciate them.
“Our world isn’t something to take for granted.”
He encourages GTA residences to get out and explore their own neighbourhoods, parks and green spaces.
This appreciation for nature is something that is deeply rooted in his work.
Not just a main focus for his photography, Brylowski’s collection also includes natural elements in its composition. He uses a specially selected western red cedar for display.
Used as a vehicle to mount photographs likewise framed on the wall, the wood comes from Haida Gwaii, formerly the Queen Charlotte Islands of British Columbia.
This place is home to some members of Brylowski’s family and one that he describes as “pristine” and “magical.”
The wood is similar in its beauty. After traveling for days across the country, it reaches Brylowski’s studio, where he meticulously treats it for up to two weeks.
This is a process that has taken him four or five years to refine.
The final product gives a sculptural element to Brylowski’s pieces that is unique, while allowing him to preserve the integrity of the image.
He hopes that this will allow for the photos to be appreciated off, as well as on, the wall.
“The pieces are meant to be handled,” he says, “passed around as conversation pieces and admired in a 360-degree respect.”
His collection was displayed from May 6 to 20 at Huddle Gallery & Studios (97 Niagara St.).
Home to twelve other artists, this space is a converted warehouse renovated by a friend of Brylowski’s.
Having seen it transform over the years, it was a natural selection for his first show. “I didn’t want to be nervous,” he says, “and having it here made it really comfortable.”
And making it comfortable seems to have paid off. Over 300 visitors came by on opening night—an impressive number for an artist’s first exhibition in a festival of this size.
Scotiabank’s CONTACT Photography Festival displayed over 1,000 different artists’ work.
Charlie Ringas, a composer, dropped by Brylowski’s show. He describes the pieces as gentle but severe, harmonious and strong. “It’s really worth seeing,” he continues, “to see something so pure and beautiful.
“It really blew me away.”
Brylowski is happy with the overall response to his work and calls the experience satisfying. And while he’s not exactly sure when his next show will be, he does say that he would like to do it again in the future.
And if the rave reviews and feedback for “Stop! and eat the roses …” have anything to say about it, it is that many people hope that that future arrives soon.