Ice Villages by Richard Johnson at bulthaup Toronto
Until April 18, 2015, photographer Richard Johnson’s Ice Villages exhibition is now on display at bulthaup Toronto.
The Ice Villages project, now in its fifth year, began in 2010 when Richard encountered hundreds of huts grouped together while travelling in northern Quebec and Manitoba. It is part of a larger body of work, entitled “Ice Huts”, which began in 2007, through which Richard is comparing the similarities and differences of ice-fishing architecture across all of Canada’s provinces. “Ice Huts” now consists of more than 700 individual huts from 9 provinces laid out in a typological survey.
These provisional shelters offer a colourful glimpse into the Canadian culture of the ice-fishing hut. As with its distant cousins the native teepee and the Igloo, the ice fishing hut has its own essential purpose: it must be weather-resistant and transportable, giving basic shelter and access to the ground beneath it. Faux wood paneling, sheet metal, tarpaulins, peak roofs, modified camping trailers all fulfill the requirements for shelter.
Wide panoramas show the structures in the context of the surrounding landscape. The seasonal communities feature hockey rinks for children, restaurants, rental huts, and even hydro poles to illuminate the villages in the night.
Richard’s latest series, entitled “Ice Huts Storm,” concentrates on a small community in northern New Brunswick on Chaleur Bay. Colourful shapes poke out from a seamless background, lost in a landscape of driving snow. Birds hover overhead waiting for fishermen’s scraps. Tarpaulin enclosures flap like a weathered flag in the relentless wind.
Ice Villages is presented as part of the Toronto Design Offsite Festival 2015.
Richard comes to fine-art photography with a disciplined approach to image-making from a 22-year career as one of Canada’s pre-eminent architectural photographers. Aided by the rigour of working for many years with a large-format 4×5 view camera and sheet film, Richard has adopted a classic visual style influenced by mid-century masters Bernd and Hilla Becher. Prior to this, Richard worked for 15 years as an interior designer for several of Canada’s leading design firms. His formal training is from Algonquin College’s Interior Design program and Carleton University’s Faculty of Engineering.