“I’m not interested in necessarily showing a place just for the content of that place,” said Thaddeus Holownia. “I’m more interested in drawing the poetry out of somewhere.”
Holownia has been a professional artist for over 40 years, specializing in photography. His work has taken him around the world, but his permanent studio is just down the road from Mount Allison in the town of Jolicure. The studio is a slender, unassuming building that offers a commanding view of the surrounding countryside, a view that sometimes finds its way into Holownia’s projects.
“But what is poetry?” Holownia asked. “For me, it’s this place you go that uses as few elements as possible to render an emotional response to something.”
To illustrate his point, Holownia showed me a series of his photographs that were included in a German exhibition that was organized as a tribute to Monet.
“Monet moved to the country and started painting haystacks, things that were seemingly mundane,” said Holownia. “But Monet was one of the first ones to go back to a subject and reinvestigate it as the environment changed.”
Holownia’s response to Monet is a series of colour photographs of a small pond beneath his house in Jolicure. Each photograph was taken from the same vantage point, but the range of seasons and weather ensure that each image is unique.
“The light, the atmosphere conditions, and the seasons change your perspective emotionally,” said Holownia.
The Jolicure pond series only took a few years to complete, but some of Holownia’s other projects have had a much longer timeline. He ended the interview by showing me a series of photographs depicting a river spanned by an abandoned, broken-down bridge that is slowly washed away by the current one image at a time. The series took about twenty years to complete.
“I went there and I took a photograph because I was interested in the structure,” said Holownia.
“But over the years I would hike out and take a photo when the light was interesting, or the weather was interesting, and that builds on itself. Eventually you look at your negatives and you go ‘I have 16 of these, I could put them together and make a new work.’”
Holownia’s photography and studio formed a part of Sackville’s annual Art Across the Marsh gallery tour.