Lorraine Gilbert

It is difficult today to depict landscapes as was done in the past before a certain disenchantment emerged as a result of industrial development, the proliferation of urban sprawl and expressways, and the diversion of rivers and deforestation. Lorraine Gilbert is interested in how we occupy land in Canada. She bases her approach on her studies in natural science, the history of landscape photography and her personal experience as a tree planter, which left a lasting impression on her. Her work could be called a “meticulous look at a land devastated by greed.”

The series “Tree Planters” (1987) was produced in Maniwaki, Quebec, where Gilbert was working with a tree-planting co-op she started with five colleagues. Inspired by the portraits in Richard Avedon’s series “In the American West” (1979-1984), the photographer captures tree planters – men and women – surrounded by nature or against the backdrop of an improvised studio made with burlap bags. The photographs, which were taken using a large-format camera, enabled her to establish her method. She later travelled to Western Canada to continue exploring the possibilities of this rudimentary device using only natural light. The project, entitled “Shaping the New Forest,” also involved a tree-planting crew in British Columbia.

MARCEL BLOUIN


Ill. 1
Lorraine Gilbert (born in 1955), Untitled (Louise with Planting Trays), Maniwaki, Quebec, From the series “Tree Planters,” “Shaping the New Forest” project, 1987, Gelatin silver prints, 1/1, 50.5 x 40.5 cm (each). MMFA, anonymous gifts.

Ill. 2
Lorraine Gilbert (born in 1955), Untitled (Luc with Trees and Gear), Maniwaki, Quebec, From the series “Tree Planters,” “Shaping the New Forest” project, 1987, Gelatin silver prints, 1/1, 50.5 x 40.5 cm (each). MMFA, anonymous gifts.

Ill.3
Lorraine Gilbert (born in 1955), Untitled (Ben), Maniwaki, Quebec, From the series “Tree Planters,” “Shaping the New Forest” project, 1987, Gelatin silver prints, 1/1, 50.5 x 40.5 cm (each). MMFA, anonymous gifts.