Locking the door to 2020. © J. Ashley Nixon
Since 2010, I have put together annual collections of images representing my photographic work around people, places and performance. The project has progressively grown to match the year so, at the end of 2020, I have twenty photos to share. The set holds images that appeal to me for their narrative message or other photographic attributes. It also includes some of my own “favourites”, which I hope will resonate and make connections with you as well.
I wanted to base this year’s review on a reference to 20/20 and visual acuity. Instead, it was defined, forevermore, by an assemblage of protein and nucleic acid that has replicated within our cells and caused significant cost to our health, social fabric, and livelihoods.
COVID-19 changed all of our lives this year. For me, the virus meant cancelled portrait sessions, abandoned music gigs and other events. University teaching transferred to online delivery. Travels with the camera cut down to local visits on foot or by bicycle and a few Alberta-bounded adventures into Kananaskis Country and the Badlands. My plans to go back to Britain and photograph Airedale, Yorkshire, and make more visual stories around sustainability and culture in Peru, were put on hold.
The often-bleak struggles with the lock-down also, however, unlocked new creative doors and kicked down old ones. I published four books during the year: On Fire, All Dressed Up, Sledding, and Behind the Mask. I reinvigorated my interests in wildlife and conservation, spending many socially distanced hours alone photographing a pair of nesting ospreys and a colony of barn swallows under a bridge over the Elbow River.
Build the Road, started off on a snowy day in October and will continue throughout the winter. Contigo Peru came out of a desire to show solidarity with the People of Peru as they faced yet another constitutional crisis in 2020. I moved back to macro photography with a project called Caution, and the start of a long-term commitment to digitize my old 35mm transparency collection that I am mining for a publication called Slides next year. The first set of images from that project will also feature my Mum’s poems around Haworth, Yorkshire. The book, Cobbled Together will be out in the early New Year.
Exhibition in 2021
With strong, sewn support from Maricarmen, who applied her needlecraft talents to make a set of backdrops and masks, and Jennifer, who patiently posed through several studio sessions, I created images exploring how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed how we work, learn, and play.
Entitled Social Camouflage, some of these images will be featured with some from my book Behind the Mask and work by Angela Boehm on forest resilience and regeneration in our joint Exposure Festival exhibition at cSPACE King Edward, Calgary, during February 2021. I hope that pandemic protocols will allow you to visit that exhibition, but if not, there will be some online coverage coming out soon.
You can view my 20 pics from ’20 here. Thank you for your support and interest in 2020. Wishing you all a good and better year in 2021. Keep well.