Geoffrey James: Inside Kingston Penitentiary
February 14 – May 17, 2015
Kingston Penitentiary (KP), was home to many of the country’s most notorious criminals from 1835 to 2013. The sprawling prison complex on Lake Ontario has been deeply entwined with Kingston’s history and civic identity, but the existing visual record is scant. Through its final months of operation, artist Geoffrey James paid multiple visits to the site to develop a body of photographs documenting and memorializing this legendary institution. The resulting images capture the physical setting, routines and relationships inside KP. James’ photographs engage with the carceral environment and its inhabitants, movingly melding artistic achievement and documentary force.
“The first thing that strikes you when you view a Geoffrey James photograph, whether intimate or panoramic in scale, is its beauty. A closer look – or a perusal of the dozen or so books he has produced – reveals that his images are the product of an engaged mind and eye, showing us the marks, both elegant and raw, that we’ve made on the land. Educated in history at Oxford, he is self-taught as a photographer. He has nonetheless made the art form his own, unflinchingly and masterfully investigating the way we interact with our surroundings, and what those interactions say about us a society.” - excerpted from the Canada Council for the Arts Governor General's Award website.
From Our Collection: Geoffrey James, The Lethbridge Project
Glenbow is pleased to present a companion exhibition of Geoffrey James photographs from our Collection. The Lethbridge Project was commissioned in 1999 by The Southern Alberta Art Gallery to mark the end of the last millennium and the beginning of the current. Geoffrey James made several visits to the Lethbridge area, photographing what caught his attention in both the rural and urban landscape. The resulting photographs characterize Lethbridge as a prairie experience that is part mythic and part ordinary.