Friday, April 23, 2021

not everything has to be beautiful

Skeleton - Trailings Series - Sara Harley

I stumbled across this quote a few years ago, and it's still one of my favourite quotes about art:

"Art is not always about pretty things. It's about who we are, what happened to us, and how our lives are affected." 

- Elizabeth Broun, Director, Smithsonian American Art Museum 1989-2016

When I was selecting images for my Trailings exhibit, I went through many iterations. Indecision was my enemy, but I kept coming back to Skeleton. Should I include it? It wasn't the typical photograph you might see in an exhibition. But it called to me, and could not be ignored so it made the cut.

In some ways, it makes me feel uncomfortable when I look at it. It's not pretty and it's not happy, but it intrigues me. It draws me in and tells a story of vulnerability. Bare to the bones, the lack of surrounding earth strips the scene down to a sense of loss. Maybe not a happy story, but perhaps a story that needs to be talked about and shared.

People seem to be drawn to it, or repelled. That's okay! Any response is a good one.  I felt particularly gratified when someone saw the image without seeing the title and said "it looks like a skeleton". Yes! 



Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Newspaper Article - Trailings Exhibit

Trailings Exhibit Article Sara Harley
Progress Bulletin article, April 21 2021

If you click on the image above, you'll be able to read the article in a larger size format.

Free publicity is always great. I've done a few interviews over the years and it's always interesting to me how a reporter puts things together. Gayle Wilson wrote a lovely article about my exhibit, with lots of background information as well. 

And I didn't realize that I still use the word "neat", as in "it was neat"!  

From Google: What does neat mean slang?
Slang. great; wonderful; fine: What a neat car!

Monday, April 19, 2021

Answering some questions

Off on a New Adventure by Sara Harley
Off on a New Adventure

A while ago Helen Eaton mentioned in one of her blog posts that my blog is one that she follows. She was asking her favourite bloggers to answer some questions. I use this blog for writing about my photography, but I thought it might be interesting to have a blog post that is a bit more personal.  Here are Helen's questions....and my answers:

Question 1: Silence, music, podcast, or something else when you create / work?

Complete silence! I love music, but I find it distracting when I'm creating :)  I don't think I have ever listened to a podcast. I'm a visual person, so prefer YouTube where I can view and listen at the same time.

Question 2: What's your favorite part of the process as you create / write?

All my troubles retreat when I'm creating....part of the reason I love what I do. Whether I'm out and about with my camera in hand, or sitting at my desk creating something on the computer, I become completely absorbed and everything that is going on (internally and externally) fades into the background.

Question 3: Where do you do your craft, and what's that space like?

I'm either outside with my camera, or I'm in my home office. My office is very small....7 feet by 8 feet. In our original house plans, the space was actually a walk in closet by the front door. I had the plans changed and moved the closet door to a side hallway and added a smaller front hall closet by the front door. Voila, a walk in closet became my office! It's snug, but I love it. I have a desk with computer and two monitors to create with. I have an old wooden tool chest that I use as a table for my printer. There are shelves filled with family photos, favourite collectibles, books that I have made, reference books, and books from friends (I love books!). And...two large bulletin boards filled with inspiration bits and bobs, and my own works in progress. My office is one of my happy places.

Question 4: How do you choose who to follow? (Blogs, Instagram, Facebook, etc.)

I have signed up to receive a couple of blogs by email, but apparently that won't be happening after June because I just received a notice from blogger that the "follow by email" feature is going away. I have a love/hate relationship with the internet and social media. On one hand, I find it inspiring to see what other people are doing. On the other hand, I tend to feel inadequate when faced with so many inspiring people. I spend less and less time following other people, and try to focus on doing my own thing. I dislike facebook and only use it when I feel I have to share a big milestone with my family and friends. Most of my internet time is spent scrolling through my instagram feed but I'm trying to break that habit as well. I subscribe and unsubscribe to accounts quite frequently. Currently I follow some photographers and some quilters who inspire me.

Question 5: Why do you write and post on your blog?    

I started blogging in 2007 when I owned a dog biscuit company. I sold the company in 2008, retired, and moved half way across Canada but decided to continue blogging to document our new life in the country. We moved into a town in 2015 and blogging went by the way side for a couple of years. I picked it back up again a couple of years ago to document my photography. I am fickle and am not a faithful blogger, but blogging helps me gets things straight in my own mind. Basically, I use my blog to try to inspire other people...and to keep a record of things I think are of value in my photographic journey.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

The passage of time

Trailings series, continued

Barely There by Sara Harley, Trailings Series

Time can't be captured, but photos can tell the story of passing time. Photographing the same subject over months, or years, is a way for me to gain perspective. Nature has a way of teaching us that allowing time to pass can help us, and the cycles of life will ebb and flow. 

The three images in this post were all photographed in the same location, over a 2 month period. Barely There (above) was the last in the series.

The first in the series was Water Dance (below).

Water Dance by Sara Harley, Trailings Series

I stumbled on this scene by accident. I was looking for a gathering of trees with yellow fall foliage, part of a monthly project called Inspiration Collaboration that I work on with artist Helen Eaton. I wanted trees with yellow leaves as a response to her painting Aspens in Autumn. However, when I saw this scene it stopped me in my tracks and I forgot all about yellow. This photograph is full of colour and joy, a celebration of life. The leaves seemed to be drifting on the water in a silent dance, poetry in motion.

One month later, I decided to return to the same location and I photographed I'll Cry if I Want To (below). 

I'll Cry if I Want To by Sara Harley, Trailings Series
The party from Water Dance was over. The scene was more subdued but no less beautiful. The leaves had finished their dance and were submerged at the bottom of the stream. It was a grey overcast day and the rain was gently falling, nature's tears creating ripples on the water.

Three different photographs, three very different feelings, all from the same location. Some photographers search for new locations constantly, but I believe that some of my best work comes from places that I'm familiar with and can return to time and time again.


Also from the Trailings Series: 



Monday, April 12, 2021

Lacework - Trailings Series


Lacework by Sara Harley, Trailings Project
Trailings is now being exhibited, so I thought I would feature some of the photographs here.

Do you see beauty, or do you see destruction? 

I first saw these branches last year in mid August and I was fascinated with them. I thought they were beautiful and looked like delicate lace. A couple of months later, I was in the same area and took another series of photos. There were many trees in the same condition and the leaves were even more skeletal than my previous visit. 

Just a few days ago I was on the trail in the same area that I had taken Lacework. The sun was shining and the frogs were singing a beautiful chorus, but it will be a while before we have leaves on the trees. Apparently it's not too soon for the creators of the delicate lacework to be out in full force. I stopped in amazement when I saw them, not dozens, not hundreds, but thousands or millions of them!

Here are a few shots I took with my phone...the tiniest little artists you've ever seen:

Friday, April 2, 2021

Trailings Exhibit opened

Trailings Exhibit - Sara Harley
Trailings Exhibit - Margaret Hennigar Public Library

I spent part of yesterday morning hanging my Trailings exhibit at our local library. I had a few people who had asked for updates on my project (a result of asking for public involvement back in November...see this post for more info). I let them know I would be at the library, but I finished so quickly that I missed a couple of them who dropped by to see me in action. Oops. 

I had measured the space ahead of time, and had made a hanging plan of the order I wanted the images, so it was all smooth sailing to hang them. Planning ahead makes the job much easier. One thing I changed on the fly...I had planned to hang everything at the same height. I decided once I started hanging that...1. it would be very, very difficult to get them all at the same height using their wire hanging system...and 2. it would be much more visually interesting to have the images staggered. That decision made the hanging job so much easier!

Trailings Exhibit - Sara Harley
It's difficult to see in the photo, but there are a couple of things sitting on the shelves which are part of the display. I'll talk about them more in a later post....a comment book, and a couple of copies of a project guide I published that includes the images from the exhibit, as well as some details about the project.

Trailings Exhibit - Sara Harley