ARTISTS’ STATEMENT

 

INTRODUCTION

Our imagery is a joyful exploration of the aesthetics. We are inspired by the world’s great diversity and colour, be we at home or a continent away. We choose to live in the moment, alert to our surroundings, the quality of light, the movement of cloud, shadow and sunbeams across a landscape, a butterfly lighting upon a slender stalk of grass, the kindly face of an elder. Photographing together for nearly three decades, we share similar artistic perception, sense of composition and an infinite patience for attention to detail.
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Our spirits seek beauty which we find amid the obvious, the obscure and the ephemeral. From a wealth of visual stimulus, we quickly focus upon the expressions, lines, colour or textures that attract us. Through photography, we distill our selective awareness into two-dimensional space, creating evocative images which share our emotions and sensibilities. It is said that to see beauty, one must carry it within one’s heart. We have the good fortune of happy, optimistic personalities and a marriage of true minds. We view the world with a positive bias. We feel that there is strong reason to portray through art that which is beautiful, inspiring, or uplifting.

Newscasts constantly bring the latest man-made or natural disaster into our homes. With the incursion of electronics in daily life, a great many people have become disconnected from the here and now. Despite myriad social, economic and environmental crises, the sun is actually rising this very second, dawning hope and opportunity and illuminating beauty somewhere in the world.

As we gravitated to presenting our photography in finely crafted, hand-bound portfolios, we then become known as book artists. For our projects, we are the photographers, authors, designers, typographers, colour specialists and private-press publishers. Beyond our hands-on involvement and direction with every phase of the creation of ANTARCTICA and LABYRINTH SUBLIME, these volumes also represent the collaboration of highly skilled individuals at the lithographers, the tannery and the bindery.

We’ve been asked why in this digital age would we want to invest so much energy in producing a physical object such as a book, exquisite as ours are.

Rosemarie: That’s like asking a sculptor, “Why do you bother to sculpt in granite because you could so easily just look at your design in Auto CAD on the computer?” Sure, you could see it, but you don’t have the full three-dimensional, tactile, intellectual stimulation. To us a book has a presence.

Pat: So much of what is produced today is here today and gone tomorrow. In this fast world, there is nostalgia for fine objects of the highest quality, handcrafted as in centuries past. A beautiful, fine-press book has this appeal. It is something you can put your hands on and enjoy. Indeed, ANTARCTICA and LABYRINTH SUBLIME stimulate several senses beyond the visual. Our tomes, fully bound in leather smell wonderful and the tactile materials — the leather, velvet and papers — are sensual. Even the solid sound of the closing cover gives satisfaction.
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ANTARCTICA

We have had the privilege of spending two six-month periods in the Antarctic taking the photographs for our project ANTARCTICA. The adventure of being in Antarctica is one where sublime highlights become the daily norm. Surprising as it may seem, the white continent is a place of magnificent color, which changes throughout the day at the whim of the weather and with the angle of the sun. Myriad shades of pink, purple, blue, gold and even green are indeed reality.
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Antarctica is a harsh land of extremes ... and of superlatives. It is the coldest and the windiest of the seven continents, as well as the most isolated. Antarctica is the highest of all continents with an average elevation over triple that of North America. Antarctica is also a desert; and although it is the driest of continents, Antarctica’s great polar ice cap smothers nearly the entire landscape locking 70 percent of the world’s freshwater in ice and snow. The very whiteness of this continent reflects the sun’s warming rays, thus perpetuating its frozen state in spite of the fact that in summer Antarctica is the sunniest place on earth.

Antarctica’s profound beauty and solitude constantly set our artistic senses to a fine tune. Through to this day, the enormity of the pristine polar world captivates and humbles us, harkening as it does to the ice ages of eons past. We are in wonder of the tenacity of life which thrives along the edge of the ice and sea — the penguins, seals, whales, and other fauna. As well, we have gained great respect for the explorers and exploiters whose forlorn century-old huts and grave markers remain as frozen time capsules, poignant memorials to a bygone age. Our photographs, many of which we composed together using one camera on one tripod, reflect our shared emotional response to what could be easily be construed as overwhelming stimulus.

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LABYRINTH SUBLIME

The philosophical discussion of The Sublime is one of the aesthetics of a strong, dominate Nature — beautiful to the extreme, yet edged with a threat of danger. The Inside Passage is quintessential sublimeness: grand scenery on an immense scale with majestic mountains rising from sea-level to soaring heights, glaciers calving blue icebergs, misty fiords of unfathomable depths.
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Convoluted, albeit navigable, channels, straits, sounds and passages mix with ubiquitous fog, conflicting currents, powerful tide rips and whirlpools. Protected from the storms and swells of the open Pacific by numerous seaward islands, this sea route is also one of quiet waters. In places The Inside Passage is so sheltered that calm conditions with mirrored shorelines are the norm, offering endless photographic opportunities from the realistic to the abstract. The interphase of the sea to land is dynamic in every respect. We were attracted to photograph the great cities to the south — Seattle, Olympia, Vancouver and Victoria; remote villages and floathouses; sailboats, ferries, tugs and barges; ancient totem poles and pictographs; salmon canneries and sawmills of bygone times; romantic lighthouses; the rainforest and seashore; the whales, seals, salmon, eagles, wolves and bears. Of the world’s grand fiord lands, only The Inside Passage claims such a wealth of natural and cultural diversity.

We explored this maritime maze from our island home over a 20-year period in small boats and large ships, by plane and car, and on foot and skis, always with camera in hand. Sensitive to the obvious and the ephemeral, we focused our photography on man and nature, the latter dominating. Our desire is that this body-of-work will be enjoyed as a visual symphony, where crescendoes of colour and majesty are at times followed by quiet intimacy.
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Pat & Rosemarie Keough