Hello Chester Fields participants.

It’s been a banner year. We had over 100 submissions to the jury. The works were visionary, thoughtful, and fascinating. Tough decisions had to be made by our jurors. Looking at our exhibition space, I estimated there was room for about 25 finalists, but many more than that were deserving of a spot on the wall. Eventually, 28 finalists were chosen. Whether or not your name is on the list below, I hope that you’ll all keep creating amazing images, and that you learned something interesting through working with this year’s theme. Without further ado, our 2018 shortlist is:

Hana Braker

Polly Campbell

Ben Clayton

Griffin Edward

Julia Hauert

Caitlin Hemsley

Khim Hipol

Morris Huang

Alana Kim

Kasha Malinowski

Regan McCort

Alisha Millar

Chloe Nakatsuru

Oliver New

Kayli Koonar

Luca Papini

Claire Pipher

Carolin Schelhas

Jenny Seo

Hermione Shen

Camryn Simkin

Gabriel Simmons

Saoirse Stephan

Vincent Villwock

Ebba Wagman

Anna Wang

Mia Xu

Alice Zeng

Thank you everyone for your incredible work. I hope that you’ll participate in Chester Fields next year. To this year’s finalists: congratulations! We’re getting a tonne of interest from the public about the show. I’ve already booked a tour for people wanting to come see it! We’ll be holding a reception on Saturday, May 26th at 1pm, after which you’re welcome to take your printed works home.


Hi Chester Fields participants!

It’s not even the deadline and we’ve already got a tonne of amazing submissions. It’s going to be a stiff competition. That said, I’m not the one who has to make any tough decisions. That duty falls into the hands of three very capable jurors. It’s my pleasure to introduce them to you now.

Erik Hood

PL1_8599Erik Hood is the Associate Director at Artspeak Gallery, Vancouver, British Columbia. He holds a BFA from Emily Carr University (2006) and was one of the initial Chester Fields school liaisons back in 2008. Hood has worked with artists and curators on a variety of projects under the title of Hardscrabble since 2012.

Virginie Lamarche

VirginieLamarcheVirginie Lamarche is the co-founder and co-director of the Vancouver-based FotoFilmic organization. Global in reach, FotoFilmic is dedicated to supporting the practice of emerging and mid-career photographers still working on film and analogue media through traveling juried exhibitions, print and online publications as well as professional workshops. Its mandate consists in stimulating sociocritical dialogues all around the world on the place, role and future of material practices in contemporary photography while providing intercultural audiences greater exposure and appreciation for them. To date FotoFilmic has presented over 150 artists from 29 countries in Melbourne, Seoul, Los Angeles, New York, Boise and Vancouver with this year’s FOTOFILMIC17 edition scheduled to also open in Paris and Thessaloniki next fall.

Kelly Lycan

photo(2) - Version 2Photo credit: Stephen Murray

Kelly Lycan is an installation and photo-based artist who resides in Vancouver, BC, Canada. Lycan’s work investigates the way objects and images are placed and displayed in the world, and the cycle of value they go through. Lycan received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of California, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles. Her work has been exhibited across Canada, the US and Europe. She also collaborated with the artist collective Instant Coffee from 2005-2015, a service-oriented, socially engaged collective that have exhibited extensively. In 2016, she was a recipient of the Shadbolt Foundation’s VIVA Award.

Decision Day is Monday, April 23. Send your artwork along with your name, a title for your work, and a short statement, to j.ramsey@thepolygon.ca by tomorrow, April 20. (And no, “Chester Fields 2018” and “Bring To Light” do not count as artwork titles! Use your creativity!)


So now, we’ve had a chance to look at artworks that bring to light stories, events, and changes using different approaches: hiding in plain sight, seeing what isn’t there, and imagining new possibilities. For those of you who are using the app, you’ve also had a chance to see how artists visualise memory!

These are just a few approaches, and there are many more you can take. I hope that by now, you have some strong ideas for your original work of photographic art, and that you’re well on your way to submitting your project!


Once again, submissions are due by the end of the day this Friday.

You can send your artwork as a digital file. If you have access to software like PhotoShop, click on “Image” at the top of the screen, then select “Image Size” from the dropdown menu. Here, you can change the physical size of your image, as well as the resolution. 240 or 300 DPI (“dots per inch”) will be good resolution for printing.

When thinking about size: remember that we’re framing most of the images in 16” x 20” or 20” x 24” frames. Your image needn’t be that big; isn’t it nice to have a bit of breathing room between the picture and the frame’s edge? Still, those dimensions can be helpful as guidelines.

If you want your image to be really high-res, you can save it as a TIFF file instead of a JPEG. This can make your file quite large, so use a free service like Dropbox or WeTransfer to send your work in. Don’t forget to include your short statement about your work, as well as its title and your name.

Finally: what if you’re handing in a physical artwork? Well, the jury’s meeting on Monday morning, so it’s got to get to The Polygon Gallery before then! Try to get your work to your teacher before the deadline so that I can pick it up. Otherwise, you can drop off your artwork over the weekend at The Polygon Gallery.

If you’re handing in a physical artwork, please make sure to include your name with it. Then, please send me your name, the artwork title, and short statement via email.

And if you have any questions at all, feel free to email me at j.ramsey@thepolygon.ca!

Let’s talk about artists who think about possible futures – who look at the histories, customs, and norms that have shaped the way we do things – and dare to do things differently. How can the objects or materials that are available today help us to envision how we want tomorrow to look?

Gabrielle L’Hirondelle Hill, The Highest and Best Use and Improve (2017), from Four Effigies for the End of Property, mixed media, photo credit: Scott Massey


A disclaimer: none of these artists are photographers – at least not mainly. But I still think there are some interesting points to be made here. First up is Gabrielle L’Hirondelle Hill. Way back before The Polygon Gallery, a shipbuilding company used to occupy this lot of land. It was called the Versatile Shipyards, and it went bankrupt in 1992. At that time, a lot of objects from the shipyards were donated as artefacts to the North Vancouver Museum and Archives. Last year, the Museum donated some of these objects to Gabrielle Hill, who made four abstract sculptures that can be found throughout this exhibition.

That’s an interesting journey: these objects were industrial materials when the shipyards were here, and now they’ve returned to this place as artworks in the new gallery. It makes me wonder: what if we were to research future plans in community, and try to visualise what these proposed or potential changes might look like?


Holly Ward, Raw Goods, 2017, installation view, photo credit: Scott Massey


Holly Ward’s work, titled Raw Goods, does something similar. For this piece, she’s borrowed sulphur and coal from the terminals along the foreshore. The sulphur piles are out near the Lions Gate Bridge in the west; the coal comes from near the Second Narrows Bridge in the east. Now, these materials are always in transit, so Holly wants to see what happens when we add The Polygon Gallery to their itinerary. Here, in this space, what happens? The materials transform not physically, but culturally. Raw goods become mediums; piles become sculptures. It’s an interesting look at the special status we give to objects in an art exhibition – even if they are literally piles of sulphur and coal.


The Bigger Picture: Babak Golkar

N_Vancouver-38Babak Golkar, the Exchange Project, installation view, photo credit: Scott Massey


Babak Golkar’s work reimagines something pretty huge: economy, and value. How do artworks get their economic or cultural value? A whole lot of factors decide this, but Babak Golkar wants to get away from these uncontrollable and sometimes random forces. He started this project called The Exchange, and it’s basically bartering. Without any concern for market value, Babak gives one of his work to a fellow artist, and that artist gives one work to Babak. Here, we see three pairs of photographs. Each pair shows one of Babak’s works in the other artist’s home or studio, and the other artist’s work in Babak’s – here in North Vancouver.

Think about what you’d change about society if you had the power. What would you do differently? Or what are some transformations you’d like to see?

Thank you to everybody who came out last Saturday for the Chester Fields event! We had an amazing turnout and I hope all attendees enjoyed themselves. We’ve gotten great feedback, and look forward to making this even better next year. A special thank you to our guest speaker Andrew Dadson, and to the Guarantaa Company of North America for their generous support.

Here’s to the start of a new Chester Fields tradition!

This time, we’ll look at artists who can visit a particular place and, through curiosity and research, find ways of showing us how it used to look in the past. Wherever they go, they don’t just see what’s in front of them. They strive to make the invisible visible.

StanDouglasStan Douglas, Lazy Bay, 2015, digital chromogenic print mounted on Dibond


For Stan Douglas’s Lazy Bay (2015), the artist did tonnes of research looking at old photographs of Lazy Bay, a community of squatters who lived in shacks in Deep Cove. There’s an interesting story here: the squatters argued that the mudflats didn’t belong to the city of North Vancouver, because the tide is always shifting the sand and mud. They believed that, by living on hand-built wooden shacks on the mudflats, they wouldn’t have to pay taxes to the government. Lazy Bay was formed in the 1930s, and survived until the 1950s, when municipal authorities burned all the shacks down and drove the squatters out.

Studying surviving photographs that were taken of Lazy Bay, Stan Douglas worked with CG artists to make 3D models of the wooden shacks. Douglas was able to use computer graphics to reconstruct a realistic image of Lazy Bay. But what else is striking about the work? Can you see any hints about the time of day it’s depicting?

altheaStill from Althea Thauberger’s Listers of Earthy, 2018, HD video


In the late 1960s, a community of squatters banded together and built wooden shacks on the Dollarton mudflats, picking up where the Lazy Bay squatters left off. Around that same time, a Hollywood film called McCabe & Mrs. Miller was being shot in West Vancouver. It was a Western film, set way back in 1902. When the studio executives came up from Los Angeles to scout locations, they saw the Dollarton mudflat squat – and the shacks were exactly what they had in mind for their movie!

Of course, they couldn’t shoot the movie down in the mud. So, they hired the squatters as set builders. They drove them up to West Vancouver, dressed them up in historical costumes, and had them build the film set. If you watch McCabe & Mrs. Miller, lots of the people in the background are actually real-life squatters, working on the carpentry even while the camera’s rolling.

When designing the costumes for Althea Thauberger’s video work Listers of Earthy (2017-2018), Natalie Purschwitz pulled inspiration from different time periods and cultures: from early twentieth-century colonial clothes, when McCabe & Mrs. Miller is set; and from the bohemian style of the 1960s and ’70s, to reflect the hippie culture of the Dollarton mudflat squat. It reminds us that oftentimes, change in society isn’t necessarily reflected in the buildings or landscapes around us. Oftentimes, the biggest shifts are seen in the ways we dress ourselves, or the objects we carry, or the activities we do in our spare time. When thinking about fascinating transformations, don’t be afraid to think outside the box.

The Bigger Picture: Chief Janice George

N_Vancouver-56Shelley Thomas, Xaxhaynumet (detail), 2007-2008, woven wool


As recently as the early 2000s, Salish weaving was pretty much gone from the North Shore communities of the Squamish Nation. Nobody had learned to do it. Inspired by old photographs and even older stories, Chief Janice George of the Squamish Nation was determined to restore this art. She travelled to other Salish First Nations to learn, and studied existing weavings, in order to learn how to weave. George then taught a group of ten students how to do traditional weaving on handmade looms. These students then went on to have students of their own.

Fast-forward to 2018: Chief Janice George’s weaving programme, based out of L’hen Awtwx Weaving House, has reached over 2,500 students. It’s amazing what a photograph can inspire – and what we can achieve when we look beyond what’s in front of us, and rediscover parts of culture and heritage that have been lost.

Looking at The Polygon Gallery’s current exhibition N. Vancouver, we’ll focus on artists whose works bring together the past and the present. They’ve photographed landmarks or features that still exist, and might not seem visually spectacular at first, but reveal something incredible about North Vancouver’s history when we look closer.

AndrewDadsonAndrew Dadson, White Tree, 2017, inkjet print mounted on Dibond


Andrew Dadson’s White Tree (2017) shows us the stump of an old growth cedar tree. What does this tell us about the past? Using non-toxic, biodegradable paint to turn the stump completely white, Dadson contrasts this ancient, logged tree with the much younger trees around it. This tells us a lot about how recklessly we’ve used this land in the past – and how we’re letting nature recover in the present. White Tree captures a really complicated relationship between industry and the environment through very simple but effective means.

What happens to the old growth stump when Dadson paints it entirely white? Does it look out-of-time, like an historic black-and-white photo in the middle of a coloured one? Or maybe it seems ghostly – a spectre of the past? How do you respond to White Tree?

N_Vancouver-41Stephen Waddell, Hive Burner, 2017, archival pigment print, photo credit: Scott Massey


The title of Stephen Waddell’s Hive Burner (2017) is a spoiler. The round cement structure seen in the photograph is all that remains of a cedar mill. The mill used to operate near Deep Cove, where Cates Park is today. Specifically, this was the round burner base of the mill, which was used to burn up sawdust. Now, we can see that the spot has become a popular hangout. Look closely and you’ll notice people chatting, sketching, and relaxing around the concrete circle.

Take a look at the image. It’s a lush, leisurely scene of late summer or early fall. What grabs your attention in this photo, and why? Is the burner base the first thing you notice – and if not, then what is? It begs the question: how does a photograph’s composition affect the way we respond to it?


The Bigger Picture: N.E. Thing Company

2017-07-06 14.04.19N.E. Thing Company, ACT #48, gelatin silver print and mixed media


N.E. Thing Company was an artist collective formed back in 1966 by husband and wife team Iain and Ingrid Baxter. N.E. Thing Company championed the idea that anything could be art – hence the name – and that art is everywhere. Many of their works come with a dose of dry humour. Take for example their ACT series (“Aesthetically Claimed Things”), where they photographed odd sites in suburban North Vancouver and “certified” them as artworks, or their Portfolio of Piles, where they painstakingly documented piles of anything they could find – doughnuts, crabs, lumber, tires, bowls and barrels, to name but a few.

What’s interesting about N.E. Thing Company is how they took everyday, commonplace things and reimagined them as artworks. From the peculiar perspectives of Iain and Ingrid Baxter, familiar sights and objects became strange and fascinating. Wonder and curiosity are valuable tools for artists. As you think about your own projects, be open to inspiration wherever you go. You never know where you’ll find it.

The 2018 Chester Fields Youth Photography Program is underway. We’re kicking things off this Saturday April 7 with a tour of N. Vancouver, our current exhibition, for Chester Fields participants. After the tour, Andrew Dadson will be joining us for a special artist talk and Q&A.

The submissions deadline is Friday April 20. Download The Polygon App to your phone or check back here for program updates and announcements. After April 20, a jury will pick the finalists whose works will be shown in an exhibition here at The Polygon Gallery from May 8-26.

A reception will be held on Saturday, May 26 at 1pm. More details will come out in the next few weeks, but I can promise that there will be snacks, cash prizes given out to the jury’s top picks, and a commemorative catalogue of all the finalists’ works to take home.


Saturday, May 27 marked the opening reception for SNAP: Making the Digital Image Real Again. We had an amazing turnout, so thank you to everyone who came out on a sunny afternoon!

A big thank you as well to our jurors Sophie Brodovitch and Kyla Mallett, who came out for the event, as well as to acting mayor Don Bell, who handed out four cash prizes of $300 each to our merit award honourees.

Congratulations to our honourable mentions:

Niels Lucke, Glory Foods (Seycove Secondary School)

Sarah Pudritz, anticipation (Sentinel Secondary School)

Meng Yin, Purity (University Hill Secondary School)

Natalie Zawislak, Shelter (Handsworth Secondary School)

And of course, a big round of applause to all twenty-four of our finalists. You’re all winners. The show is open this week from Wednesday until Sunday, so if you haven’t seen it yet, please come by, take a look, and pick up a copy of the exhibition catalogue!

Hello artists! As you all know, the jury has met and looked over all of the nearly-60 submissions that came in this year. We were floored by the amazing response to this year’s call. The creativity and rigour with which you tackled our theme was astonishing. So firstly, thank you to everybody who submitted work.

Our judges deliberated over the course of almost four hours, and decisions were tough. However, they eventually agreed on 24 works that will make up this year’s exhibition: the largest exhibition in Chester Fields’ history by far. It’s my pleasure to present our shortlist, featuring submissions from seven different schools. Kudos to:

Hana Braker

Tatiana Cooper

Sarah Doolan

Lia Elrick

Eli Figueroa

Moritz Gebler

Jeffrey Hernandez

Ivan Hilario

Stefan Kowalski

Monique Limanto

Jerry Lin

Niels Lucke

Mark Mackay

Dylan McCartney

Luca Papini

Jarrett Pawson

Jessica Pegram

Sarah Pudritz

Fengyuchen Qian

Adrien Segur

Andy Shin

Meng Yin

Natalie Zawislak

Mia Zhang

Join us on Saturday, May 27 at 1:00pm for the opening reception of SNAP: Making the Digital Image Real Again at Presentation House Gallery. During the reception, will award three of our finalists with $300 cash prizes recognising work of exceptional merit. So make sure you come!

The exhibition will run from May 27 until June 11.

Thank you again to all of this year’s participants, and congratulations finalists!