Someone once gave Wilf Hatch a digital camera. The Nanaimo photographer looked at it, played with it a bit and then put in back in its box.
Hatch calls himself a film traditionalist, while admitting that some may think of him as a “photo fossil.” He said there’s a greater sense of ownership that comes with developing one’s own photography. Plus the darkroom is where he does his magic.
Until June 6 Hatch is displaying a selection of black-and-white drawings and photographs, some dating back to the mid-’70s, at the Nanaimo Arts Council headquarters at 78 Wharf St. It is the council’s first exhibition in its new space.
His most striking works are created using film manipulation techniques in the dark room. He calls them “drop out lithographic interpretations” and they have reduced detail and monochromatic backgrounds, making the subjects stand out more prominently.
“I get rid of all the other tones, I get the high contrast positive and then I go to a high contrast negative and in between I scrape it and paint in with opaque,” he said.
Hatch gestures to one of his popular prints, depicting a river rafters in the midst of a race. The other rafts have been removed, as have the trees and bridge. Only a single raft full of flailing paddlers remain. He compared the process to drawing.
“It’s just a strong image that jumps out,” he said.
“I’m not into weak images, I’m not into complicated images. And this process allows me to, almost like I’m drawing, which is the other thing I do, I can decide what to and what not to stay in there.”
Flipping through the book of prints on display he stops at an image of a barn in that used to stand in Nanoose. Hatch said he took a photograph before it was torn down on which to base the drawing. Instead of recreating the barn exactly, Hatch changed the fence and got rid of a tree he didn’t like.
“I don’t put everything in there,” he said of his drawings.
“I leave a lot of stuff out and I’ve had other artists say, ‘I like what you leave out,’ because then it’s stronger with what’s left.”
WHAT’S ON … Wilf Hatch’s photography and drawing exhibition at the Nanaimo Arts Council building runs until June 6.