These pictures are from a large body of
work made over a decade when I photographed almost
every building on Ottawa’s Somerset Street between Bank Street and Wellington
Street. This project begins in a cosmopolitan area on its eastern edge,
traverses a neighborhood now officially identified as “
My personal connection with the street is straightforward
- I lived in the neighborhood for a few years, knocked on a lot of doors as an
enumerator for two elections and I still live nearby, buy groceries there and
eat in the restaurants. This part of
During the last 40 years somerset street has been "colonized" by diverse groups of new Canadians. This place has somehow escaped the urban renewal/city planning steamrollers that have cut down other mature neighbourhoods and replaced them with the new. Perhaps the street evaded development because it is too geographically extended or ethnically diverse or maybe it was just not valuable enough to be a good candidate for investment? I don't know. Sadly, the biggest engine of change on the street at the moment seems to be fire.
I have really enjoyed watching how the street's aging and eclectic mix of vernacular commercial architecture, older apartment blocks and re-purposed homes have evolved and been changed by the people who use it. There is an unstructured and chaotic aspect to this street and I believe that this organic nature keeps it contemporary and relevant to the communities who use it. As a photographer I have also enjoyed the simple pleasure of learning about this place by using my eyes.This project was a way to re-connect myself to a documentary process of working with cameras as a matter of fact that I have not engaged in for a long time.
Although this project visually emphasizes the buildings, people do appear in many images. These people are un-named as a practical matter but they are not being trivialized in the process. They have left marks and traces everywhere I look. The people and the street need each other.
A selection of about 50 prints was displayed at the