In: Canadian photography

Saskatchewan: Uncommon Views
June 9, 2021

Saskatchewan: Uncommon Views, John Conway, 2005

Full disclosure: I know John Conway, as our tenures in ‘next year’s country’ of Saskatchewan overlapped, and I obtained a copy of Uncommon Views when it first came out. Saskatchewan visual culture is rife with stereotypical landscapes, but Conway offered something different, whether it be the vibrant variety of colours or the almost irreverently morose tone. Conway would leave Saskatchewan for B.C. not long after this book was published, and I would depart ten years later, so in some ways Uncommon Views is a memento, or perhaps a memento mori. John’s words resonate with me: ‘Collectively, the photographs tell something of the story of this place that was my home for much of my adult life. Themes from this story of Saskatchewan are: Promise, Survival, Sentimentality, New Jerusalem, Quirky, and Quietus.’

Accompanying texts from Sharon Butala, David Carpenter and Helen Marzolf all offer a considered response to Conway’s images, by writers who understand that “the plain is a metaphysical landscape…where there is almost nothing to see, there [one] sees the most.” (Wright Morris)

Originally published by the University of Alberta Press (a prophet is without honour in their own country, ahem, as ironically the year of publication was Saskatchewan’s centennial year), Uncommon Views is now out of print, but copies can be purchased from the artist. ~ Bart Gazzola

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