Adventurous Local Photographers to Exhibit at Gallery Sitka

February 1, 2016
Contact: Tamar Russell Brown, Gallery Sitka — 978.425.6290
Adventurous Local Photographers to Exhibit at Gallery Sitka
SHIRLEY, Mass. — The two photographers whose work will grace Gallery Sitka on Feb. 21 are each on something of a quest. Capturing these images required a spirit of enterprise and no small measure of courage.
We’ve all seen reproductions of old maps that include a drawing of a fierce sea serpent burbling up from the sea. Less well known are maps with dragons, sometimes accompanied by the legend, “Here be dragons.” Sometimes found on maps from the Middle Ages, the dragon usually signified that the territory where he was sketched in was uncharted — and possibly dangerous.  At the very least, it meant that the area was shrouded in mystery. That air of mystery and mysticism is beautifully portrayed in photos by Amanda McSweeney.
The artist travelled to Wales some time back to photograph the legendary castles of that country. “There’s just something about the country that intrigues me,” says Ms. McSweeney. She first encountered stories about Wales in fiction, in the historical novels of Sharon Kay Penman, the author of such works as (naturally) “Here Be Dragons.”
The castles she photographed — Dolwyddelan, Dolbadarn and others — are essentially ruins today, but in the 13thcentury they were the bustling abodes of Welsh princes such as Llywelyn the Great. Though medieval times in Wales were full of war and strife, today there is a very peaceful quality to the place, with plenty of open country and foggy mountains to range around in. “There are more sheep than people” in Wales, the artist informs us, describing it as “very cloudy and misty, which really makes the green pop out” in the photos. She is fascinated by old, abandoned articles in general, so the castles — left behind by the world and belonging altogether to another era — are ideal subject matter for her particular sensibility.
Ms. McSweeney likes to work in a natural, unhurried way. “I’m not one of those people who clicks a thousand photos until they get what they want,” she says. “I don’t Photoshop, don’t edit…” She wants the image to speak for itself. “I want people to see what I saw,” not some technologically manipulated version of the image.
Jonathan Route is questing both artistically and for the public good. He is an artist who believes his work can help fight for a good cause. He has recently done photo-shoots of ballerinas, women helping to raise funds — and awareness — for the struggle to find a cure for breast cancer.
Much of this work is dedicated to Mr. Route’s mother, Elaine Route, who battled breast cancer for 17 years before she died in 2009. “My mother was a fantastic painter both in oils and watercolors,” Mr. Route recalls. She also fashioned beautiful hooked rugs and floral designs. Her life and her art inspired her son to take up photography.
The artist’s friend Lisa Leclair suggested the idea of photographing ballerinas, not on stage or in the rehearsal studio but rather in an outdoor, natural setting. Just as much as the photographer himself, Ms. Leclair admires women who are battling breast cancer, inspired by the way they are “fighting like girls.” The theme of the ballerinas and support for cancer research is combined in Mr. Route’s “Tutus 4 Tatas” project, whose mission is to raise money for various organizations leading the fight against this devastating disease.
Mr. Route wants his viewer to arrive at his or her own interpretation of a photo. His photos never show the complete structure. He examines the ambiguity and origination of life via retakes and variations, amplifying the astonishment of the spectator by creating compositions or settings that generate tranquil poetic images. His works appear as dreamlike images in which fiction and reality meet, well-known tropes merge, meanings shift, and past and present fuse.
These two artists will exhibit their work at Gallery Sitka, 2 Shaker Road, Ste. D101, in Shirley, Mass., on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2 – 4 p.m. Visit and for more information about the photography of Amanda McSweeney and Jonathan Route.
#     #     #

Leave a Reply