evans illustration

A Sea of Steps, by Frederick Henry Evans, 1903

Students in HTA will know that every year we make a number of trips to explore things of architectural interest together. The first of those trips this year will be to the National Gallery of Canada. With apologies to Moshe Safdie, we won’t be going to look at the architecture, but at an exceptional collection of architectural photography that is only on display for a few more days.

Frederick Henry Evans was a London bookseller who, at the age of forty-five, decided to devote himself full-time to his true passion and calling: photography, especially photography of medieval architecture. He became the most renowned architectural photographer of his generation, and was widely credited with taking the medium beyond the ‘topographical’ (i.e. essentially record-keeping) tradition that had dominated it up to that time. Evans had an intense emotional response to medieval buildings, and poured every bit of his considerable skill and technique into expressing that response in photographs.

The show at the National Gallery is very near the end of its run, so we are going to seize the moment by making a very informal HTA visit to see it on Thursday, September 10, at 6:00 pm (by which time Gallery admission is free). By “very informal” I mean that there is no sign-up or paperwork. I will be in the exhibition by 6:00, ready to talk about it with anyone who shows up.

For me personally, this exhibition is a very special event. Like Evans, I had (and still have) an intense emotional response to medieval architecture, and have photographed it extensively. Like Evans, that passion led me to change careers in my forties – but in an ironic inversion, I switched out of my previous career as a photographer and into academia. Perhaps for these reasons, I have always felt a real affinity for Evans. And if there’s one thing I like even more than looking at his photographs, it’s looking at them in the company of others.

The Details:

HTA visit to Luminous and True: the Photographs of Frederick H. Evans
National Gallery of Canada
Thursday, September 10
6:00 PM
Admission free, all are welcome
Please meet me in the exhibition space

Added bonus: the day after our visit, on Friday September 11, the show’s curator Ann Thomas will be speaking about Evans exhibition in the Friends of Art History Lecture in SP 412, at 2:30 PM. Once again, admission is free and all are warmly welcome.