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Chris Gallagher, Barrie Jones
From February 6th 1981 to February 28th 1981
True North

TRUE – What we see
NORTH – Where we are

Optica Gallery, Montreal, wishes to announce the opening of “True North”, an exhibition of colour photographs by Vancouver artists Chris Gallagher and Barrie Jones. The show consists of 12 – 27" x 40" colour prints by each artist. The concept of True North is a reflection of our culture in light of the past, present and future. The work takes two very familiar symbols or figures, i.e., Santa Claus and a hockey player, and places them in unusual contexts for the camera.

Jones took his hockey photographs on three different trips abroad between 1973 and 1978 and is the figure behind the mask in all of the photographs. Gallagher's Santa pictures began while managing a Santa booth in a shopping centre with his associate Allan Harvey who is the Santa in all of the pictures, Together the bodies of work became the idea True North.

Santa is seen engaged in real-life situations like sun-tanning, skiing, on the edge of a building (unusual); and the hockey player is seen posed with classical monuments of foreign cultures like the Eiffel Tower, Egyptian Tombs, the Parthenon, etc. The pictures have very humorous connotations on first sight; on the second take, however, one begins to see the mysterious and surreal overtones inherent in these pictures. One asks: "Why is it funny to see either Santa at the beach or a Canadian hockey player with a mummy in Egypt?" True North breaks down the stratification of culture and myth and points out that the desire or act of culture is what is important and that culture is "all one" spanning time and place.

The work is accessible on many levels. It appeals to our sense of humour, and notions of mythic figures, costumes, ritual, dreams and hero worship. Santa, giver of dreams, is brought down to earth by his association with real life, and this makes real life seem like fantasy. The hockey player is certainly a symbol of what is Canadian; the photographs raise the question: Is hockey as significant to Canadian culture as temples were to Egyptian culture?

Both artists work in other mediums outside of photography. Gallagher is an experimental filmmaker who is known internationally, and Jones has exhibited his sculpture nationally. Again, they both studied art at U.B.C., Jones graduating in 1972, and Gallagher in 1973, and were instrumental in “13 Cameras Vancouver”, however, this is their first major joint exhibition. The show runs from February 7 to the 28, 1981, at Optica Gallery, 1029 Beaver Hall, (514) 866-5178, Montreal, and is scheduled to tour Canada in 1981-82.
- Press release (Optica)