OCAD U Photography Program

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Tag: Harbourfront Centre

Dianne Davis: Niagara Palimpsest

Dianne Davis, 2017

Dianne Davis, 2017

Come to Harbourfront Centre on Friday, June 23rd, 6-10pm to congratulate Photo alumna  Dianne Davis on the opening of Niagara Palimpsest, curated by Patrick Macaulay! 

Niagara Palimpsest is an alternate portrait of Niagara Falls, a place that is difficult to “see” because its myriad iconic images cloud our imagination. Growing up just a short distance from the Falls I often wondered about the natural world of this ‘natural wonder’.  Recently, while researching for a shoot in the area, I stumbled upon two anonymous school notebooks from 1891 containing pressed plants from the areas that now comprise the City of Niagara Falls. Taken in by the aesthetic quality of the pressings, I felt compelled to track down each of the 178 plants to uncover their fate – what survives, and what has been lost?

As I investigated each plant in this way, I began imagining the amateur botanist who had inhabited, tracked and named this same natural world, and I began drawing parallels between us. In her time the areas around the Falls and its riverbanks had only recently been stripped of trees. It is impossible to know whether she wondered about what had already been lost, or if she sensed the trajectory of things to come. Following in her footsteps, and impelled by the same compulsion to research, name and preserve, in the end I came to question these same impulses. What ends do they ultimately serve? Ultimately perhaps, our work can only attest to the “natural” history of the Falls, giving evidence of how significantly we have shaped this land.

I would like to acknowledge that the land from which these plants were gathered is the traditional territory of Attawandaron (Neutral), Anishinaabeg and Haudenosaunee peoples.

– Dianne Davis

 Harbourfront Centre
Opening reception: Friday, June 23, 6-10pm

The exhibition continues to Sept 17, 2017
235 Queens Quay West, Toronto, ON

Dianne Davis is a photo-based artist who lives and works in Toronto. She explores the complex relationships between humans and the natural world. Davis uses images to puncture the sense of inevitability that often informs the landscape and make it difficult to read and deconstruct its artifice.  She has exhibited widely and her work is in the permanent collection of the Center for Fine Art Photography in Colorado and Union Investment Real Estate based in Hamburg, Germany. Davis holds a MEng and a BSc from the University of Toronto, an MA from Concordia University and a BFA in Photography from OCAD University. She is the recipient of Emerging Visual Artist Grants from the Toronto and Ontario Arts Councils. Davis was born and raised in Chippawa (Niagara Falls, Ontario). Niagara Palimpsest is dedicated to the Nicol sisters of Niagara Falls.


Tonight at Harbourfont Centre

Palimpsest by Ursula Handleigh
Opening Jan 29, 6-9pm, Exhibition continues to June 19, 2016

Harbourfront Centre 235 Queens Quay West, Toronto, ON, M5J 2G8

Ursula Handleigh. Untitled (068) (detail), 2014. Silver gelatin paper, cotton thread.

Ursula Handleigh. Untitled (068) (detail), 2014. Silver gelatin paper, cotton thread.

Between presence and absence, Palimpsest is an intervention of the familial archive. Working with thread and light, I am retracing the transitory moments of my ancestral past. Being the first generation in my family to be born in Canada, I have always felt detached from my family’s history. Growing up, I was surrounded by old family photographs and enveloped by the stories accompanied by them. The stories I heard about my parents and ancestors informed who I was and fill in the gaps of my own life’s story. These memories, created by others before me, became an extension of my own. Methodically retracing these remnants, I am creating my own ephemeral moment, physically binding myself to a familial history of which I was detached while simultaneously creating the kinship I longed for.

– Ursula Handleigh

This installation features almost 100 silver gelatin prints from the series Breathing into Empty Spaces which which were hand-sewn with cotton thread presented alongside an original work from her Journal series, and three large-scale reproductions of the artist’s original work within and outside the building. The works were produced between 2014-2016.

Part of


Ursula Handleigh is a conceptual lens-based artist. Working with experimental photography, film and historical processes of image making, her practice explores questions of identity, perception, memory and familial relationships. Handleigh earned a BFA from OCAD University and is currently working towards a MFA from NSCAD University in Halifax. Her work has been exhibited across Canada, the US and Europe.



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