Looking Down From Up: Mary Gordon

By November 7, 2019Feature

Mary Gordon Untitled (2019) COURTESY THE ARTIST

Mary Gordon is an emerging artist from Kuujjuaq, Nunavik, QC, who has been taking photos for over forty years. In this interview with IAQ Senior Editor John Geoghegan, Gordon unpacks her photographic practice.

John Geoghegan: How long have you been taking photos for?

Mary Gordon: Quite a long while. I’ve always been into taking pictures, since I was a little girl. Maybe 40 years, I’d say. I was not even 10 years old when I got my first camera. I’ve been taking pictures ever since, when I can. When I can hold a camera.

JG: You started with a film camera?

MG: My first camera was a one pin Kodak camera that you had a buy a separate flash for. [Now I use] a 35mm camera that takes different lenses. But lately I’ve been using my iPhone camera.

JG: When did you move over to digital photography?

MG: When they came out. Every time a new camera came out I would be interested in it and save up and buy it. That’s how it goes.

JG: Did you ever take any photography classes or anything?

MG: No, I have never. Imagine if I did?

JG: Do you ever teach anybody else about photography?

MG: Just my girls, my daughters. They’re kind of good with the camera and with their eyes too.

Mary Gordon Untitled (2019) COURTESY THE ARTIST

JG: I see on Facebook that you also bead. Is there any other creative work that you do?

MG: I crochet hats. You can see them too, on my Facebook. I make parkas. I made waterproof Kamiks, boots, or sealskin boots. I do all sorts of those, but I’m not into sewing mittens, I don’t know why.

JG: Have you ever exhibited your photos before or shown them anywhere?

MG: No, I haven’t. I just take photos for fun, or for the beauty I see. I just do it for me…. [I] never really considered myself an artist. I just see what I like and take pictures of what I like. It’s not really work, it’s just my hobby. I like taking pictures.

JG: I notice, however, that you do post some of your work to Facebook. Is it important for you, to have others see what you see?

MG: Why not? Why not share? They are nice, they are beautiful. I’m just happy to share my photos. [I] want people to see how pictures can turn [out] really nice.

JG: Is it difficult sometimes, with the internet, to get photos up on Facebook?

MG: Sometimes, yeah. [Because of] the loading process. Sometimes I have to try another day, and some days there is good connection. When I still had a computer, I used to save [the high resolution photos] on a CD. But lately I haven’t done that.

JG: Everything is just on your phone and on the internet? Do you still have the old photos that you took?

MG: Not really no, [I] lost quite a bit. I don’t know how. I think from moving house to house, I misplaced a few boxes and I never saw them again.

JG: That’s really a shame. It would be amazing to measure your growth by looking at your old photos and sharing them with others.

MG: I know! [I] would love to see them now.

JG: Are you trying to convey anything in particular to a Southern audience through your choice of subject matter?

MG: The land, berry picking, hunting. Mostly the land I guess: flowers, plants. They come out really nice. I don’t know, how we fish or how we eat our food, the tradition of food.…I don’t always share my photos of food, but the ones I did this summer and last summer of our fishing trips; making dried fish, cutting them up ready in the canoe…how we fish or how we eat our food, the tradition of food [is important].

JG: My favourite thing about your photos is the perspective. You look at the berries on the ground or the flowers on the ground—there’s so much detail there! The photos that you take are so full of the different plants and wildlife and things that I think people forget.

MG: People miss a lot. And when they are trying to take pictures of stuff…like the sky, people do not see what’s on the ground sometimes. The beauty on the ground.

Learn more about Mary Gordon at her IAQ Profile.

This interview is part of our Emerging Arctic Photographers Spotlight, in collaboration with Gallery 44’s online exhibit Looking Down From Up.

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