Catching Byways Flies is a photo-based project that captures domestic life in rural Ontario. The setting is Algonquin Woods, a small cottage resort on the outskirts of Muskoka with ten rustic cottages and 300 ft of lakefront. The resort is now for sale, and the images function as both an introduction to and reflection upon this place.
The series tells a personal and intimate story of changes in family life while also offering insight into the evolution of Muskoka’s ‘cottage country’, once loved for it’s quiet, rustic, woodsy experience, now old resorts sit decaying as the industry changes and the area becomes gentrified. Knowing that the change of ownership will result in the house being torn down and rebuilt, the images aim to show appreciation for this character and a nostalgic look at a life and childhood that slipped away all too soon.
The sensory memories of growing up in a Northern lakeside setting are the inspiration for the images - the hum of the furnace sputtering into life, the smell of pollen in the lake in the spring, the feeling of freezing cold air forcing nostrils together, and, of course, the inevitable swarm of blackflies in June.
Inhabiting the headspace of a child with a boundless imagination, the artist becomes a proverbial bug catcher, capturing fleeting moments that were perpetually buzzing all around. The goal of the project was for these transient moments to become eternalized and this was achieved through a careful process of observation and reflection on the ever-changing flow of life.
The images return again and again to the lake itself as it is the essential glue that holds the surrounding area together. Thoreau described a lake as being “a landscape's most beautiful and expressive feature. It is Earth's eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature.” Within these photographs that seek to document a place in transition, the lake is the only part of the story that has always been and will remain the same for generations to come. It is the witness to the past, present and future.
Catching Byways Flies addresses the fragility of the idea of a family home, and that it too can be changeable and impermanent.