Art

Urban Still Life exhibit comes to life at FRED

Nova Scotia photographer Christopher Porter displays latest collection in Halifax

Christopher Porter has a new exhibit at FRED.
Christopher Porter has a new exhibit at FRED.   Michelle Pressé

Christopher Porter’s fascination with still life art began on a trip to Amsterdam in 1978.

After seeing vibrant 18th century still life oil paintings, the Lunenburg-based cinematographer and photographer wanted to try it for himself.

Now 58, Porter has shared his collection Urban Still Life at FRED’s, a hybrid hair salon, café and art gallery in Halifax’s north end. He says it’s his first exhibit at the Agricola Street business.

“I always try to grow with what I do,” says Porter. “This is the first exhibition I’ve ever put up anywhere that doesn’t have people in it. It’s a bit unnerving for me.”

Each photo in the exhibit was taken on Porter’s eight-month-long journey through Europe and Asia in 2015. He spent the majority of his time in Denmark, where one of his sons attends university, and China, where his other son works.

Porter took a total of 5,600 photos – none of which were arranged or edited. Fifteen of them are at the exhibit, which opened on Feb. 11 and runs to March 11.

He says the greatest learning lesson in this project was not forcing things to happen.

“Sometimes I find myself with an idea, and by the end of it I find myself pushing it a bit. But I was very relaxed doing this.”

Christopher Porter's photos are from his trip to Europe and Asia in 2015.
Christopher Porter’s photos are from his trip to Europe and Asia in 2015.   Terra Tailleur

Fred Connors, the founder of FRED, says Porter’s use of composition allows his photos to look like paintings. He contacted Porter about displaying his photos after a mutual friend, an art curator in Mahone Bay, told Connors about his work.

“I like how the still life imagery looks like it’s somehow been assembled,” says Connors. “However, it hasn’t been. These are actual urban still life photos as they’ve occurred.”

Connors says art is a major part of FRED’s identity and that the Urban Still Life exhibit is another unique twist to the 12-year-old business.

“I believe beauty exists in everything done well,” says Connors. “Whether you’re a painter, sculptor, photographer, baker or hairdresser, we have the ability to convey beauty.”

Connors’ favourite piece from the collection is called The Seat, which displays a worn-down moped seat drooping in front of a mural of trees in China. He says this is a great example of how art exists in everyday life.

“Art brings beauty into the mundane,” says Connors. “Art gets us thinking. Art is provocative. Art makes us feel good, and sometimes uncomfortable, but it definitely makes us feel something.”