McLennan was not born in Muskoka, but does being a resident for thirty
years make him a local?
reflects on his relationship with the place, the myth and the question
of Muskoka in a multidisciplinary art exhibit, titled Looking for
Muskoka. The work consists of Sandy’s photography, installations,
audio and motion pictures.
“Muskoka” as a metaphor for constant change, shifting identity and
unknown destination, Sandy’s time and place context stretches from
being a young guest at cottages in the 1970s – introduced to the
splendour of lakes and shores and seductive buildings sheltering iconic
social scenes – to being a long-time dweller wondering where the magic
as an employee in Toronto in the early Eighties, Sandy was making the
weekend trip north to the cottage, picking different routes and times of
day to try and avoid the traffic. That was a time of opportunity for
young people and it was a straightforward decision to leave the city and
move to cottage country. Since then, he has lived in town and country,
and seen most of the District while working in every one of the public
schools, as a videographer in homes, cottages and businesses, and most
recently while working on the census. This exhibit displays Sandy’s
current impressions, somewhere between visiting and inhabiting a place,
both physically and spiritually.
for Muskoka considers the longing for a place of peace, adventure and
contentment somewhere out there. In the exhibit, viewers will see
Muskoka as advertised and as currently documented using images and
objects. Sandy employs the term docu-drama to describe his work:
“There is more than enough drama in what we see and experience every
day. Most of the time we drive on by. This exhibit is a still-life, a
chance to stop and see; but only for the moment. Already, some of the
things I’ve photographed in the last months are gone. What’s
cameras in hand, Sandy journeyed about Muskoka acquiring views on a
variety of media, including 35mm black & white negatives and colour
slides, double 8mm and super 8 motion pictures, digital stills and video
(old family movies and snapshots also appear in the show).
old AV guy was joyous to get his hands on well-worn favourite tools and
be back in the darkroom again. “I’m lucky to have kept some of my
old camera and darkroom equipment, and that it still works! I’ve since
rented or added to my kit of cameras and projectors that date back to
the 50s. Using old apparatus to make current images is the right fit for
says The Chapel Gallery fits precisely in this procession. It, too, has
migrated. “The church was a place to gather and be together, perhaps
strengthen our convictions, and the art gallery is a place to gather our
thoughts in an age of smaller community and less conviction, and then
take those thoughts on in to the brave new world.”
a cottager; maybe a local, or not, Sandy defines his role in Looking for
Muskoka as: observer.
McLennan thanks The Ontario Arts Council and the Liaison of Independent
Filmmakers of Toronto for their assistance with this exhibit.
the opening reception on Saturday, November 19, Sandy will be screening
one of his films at 3pm. throughout the exhibition, screenings will take
place on November 26, December 3 and 10 at 3pm.