Water Jewels by Clare Ross
In keeping with our 2019/20 Season theme of “old meets new” we are thrilled to share the work of some of Canada’s and the world’s most exciting contemporary artists as part of our season campaign.
These stunning images were chosen to complement both the season theme and the theme of each individual concert. We chatted with Clare Ross, the photographer behind the image for Lotti Revealed.
Tafelmusik: Tell us a little about yourself, and how you started in your field of art?
Clare Ross: I have had the great fortune to have been surrounded by wonderful artists and art my entire life: music, indigenous art, classical art, furniture and architectural art and fibre art and this broad exposure has taught me how to see colour, light, movement, emotion and so forth. Photography has interested me for as long as I can remember, but becoming a visual artist was not something I thought I could do, and no one I knew was interested in photographic art. I got a degree in literature and theatre, which I loved, and I got a teaching degree, had children, and worked, but I always had a camera in my hands and over the years took thousands and thousands of photographs. In 2008 I took a trip with painters to Newfoundland and focused on nothing but photographic art for 10 days. Then I had a show. It got a good review. I sold some work. That was the turning point. It was after that trip that I had to admit to myself that I was a fine art photographer more than anything else.
TM: Tell us more about the artwork featured in our season campaign and your concept behind it. What was your process while creating it?
CR: Water Jewels, the photograph featured in this year's Tafelmusik program, and thank you for including it, is one of the photographs I took in that first art trip to Newfoundland. I was on the northern most tip of the province, in a place called Quirpon Island, which extends into Iceberg Alley, a stretch of water in the Atlantic that threads it's way between Greenland and Newfoundland, Canada. The light was dull, so I was exploring the water's edge when a ray of sun reached around from behind a cloud and through the water at my feet, revealing a mirage like view of colour and shape through refracted light. Of course I had my camera and without breathing, sure it would disappear, I focussed on what I could see and I took the shot, just one photograph, and then it was gone. Despite returning time and time again to the same place, I never saw those jewels again, but I have this photograph, which I think is symbolic on many levels.
TM: Tafelmusik’s 2019/20 season theme is “Old Meets New.” How do you feel your art fits with this theme?
CR: I did not create this image for the theme, but the photograph holds a lot of symbolic emotional meaning for me around transition and identity—the kinds of subjects I struggled with when I finally embraced becoming a fine art photographer, and so I feel it easily fits the theme.
TM: What is your favourite music to listen to when making art?
CR: I love any and all music that is authentic, personal, creative and the result of the interaction of skill and emotion. Having said that, I cannot do my work while listening to music that involves me too much or I get distracted. So, I like to work with music that is emotional, but with gentle transitions and no singing! One cannot simultaneously sing along and take photographs, which is too bad really. [Editor's note: We think it's funny that this image is being used for a choral concert.]
TM: What shows or exhibitions are you dying to see? Is there an artist or organization you’d encourage our followers to explore?
CR: At the moment there is one particular artwork that I am waiting breathlessly to see and that is the sculpture currently being created by Timothy Schmalz, the artist behind Homeless Jesus. I spoke with him briefly last year and he sent me photos of the sculpture in progress. It is huge and magnificent and it is about the humanity of displaced persons. That is something I want to see for myself.
More generally, I would recommend that art lovers pay attention to the Canadian art scene. The way we view and support art, all art, is undergoing a technological shift and that change is having an impact on the culture of North America. I am a member and supporter of the Ontario Society of Artists. This small but mighty society, which will soon be 150 years old, is on the front lines supporting art and professional artists across Ontario. We are working at a grassroots level and we exhibit world-class art. For anyone who is interested in making their own judgements about visual art, this is a good place to start. Canadian art is being noticed, and we can see it here first. www.ontariosocietyofartists.org
TM: What is the best advice you’ve been given?
CR: Doris McCarthy used to say when mentoring artists, "Nature isn't perfect, that's your job." She didn't mean that we should change nature but rather that we should take artistic license in our renderings of nature. I find I do that more and more. I want people to feel emotional about nature. For the work I am doing now, ten years on from Water Jewels, I control every detail of that final photographic print. Sure, it is a photograph of parts of our natural world, but I don’t just capture images for print, I create them.