Hugh Conacher

January 2019

Hugh Conacher

Manitoba Arts Network

Touring Exhibition

The Arctic and Antarctic are preeminent teachers of the play of light and sculptural form. The Antarctic has extraordinary luminosity. Its scale is incomprehensible. Time stands still. This artist is fascinated by the range of light-related phenomena, weather and form in both Polar Regions, an experience not like anywhere else in the world. In the three weeks Hugh Conacher spent in the Antarctic, he captured over 10,000 images of mountains, ice, animals and rust. When he returned home, he fully realized what he had experienced. The luminosity of this mountainous environment is extraordinary – light behaves differently there. Colours are unimaginably intense and yet the natural environment appears to be monochromatic.

In its current form, the exhibition consists of sixteen photographic images, designed to be shown as diptychs. Each diptych requires six and a half feet of wall space and ideally there’s two feet between each. They are exhibited linearly at eye level. This requires a total wall space of approximately sixty-eight running feet, however this floor plan can expand or contract to suit each venue. The goal is to allow viewers to spend time with each image closely examining its detail and stepping away to consider the whole and then stepping in again.

The complex refraction of light through icebergs and ice blisters, as well as the vastness of ancient ice fields all produce feelings of the diminutiveness of life. This, the artist feels, is related to notions of the sublime in landscape art. In other words, the environment is not simply the lights and set for the main action. It is the primary drama and the visual storyteller.