Paul Thulin: Pine Tree Ballads
Candela Books and Gallery has just released a new exhibition and book, Pine Tree Ballads by Paul Thulin. The exhibition runs through April 20, 2019 at the Candela Gallery in Richmond, Virginia and the book is available for order here. Pine Tree Ballads in a fantastical reimagining of place, in particular, an island off the coast of Maine. In the early 1900s, Paul’s great-grandfather settled in Maine because it resembled his homeland of Sweden. Over a century later, his family returns to the same area, Gray’s Point, each summer.
The project and book is inspired by exquisitely detailed accounts shared by his great-grandfather of early settlers at the New England apple orchard including such characters as a one-legged ship cook, a widowed schoolteacher, and an ingenious Native American blacksmith. “The tales were an intricate mix of facts and lore that fueled the imagination and, on occasion, had the power to transform daily floorboard creaks and shadows into enduring ancestral spirits. Pine Tree Ballads is a poetic memoir, featuring the artist’s daughter, wife, mother, and grandmother as a single protean character vibrating in time, navigating the mysteries and menace of a shared ancestral forest. This deeply personal photographic sequence is part visual narrative of family myths and part origin story. Pine Tree Ballads is fueled by both truth and imagination, which, in many instances are the fundamental ingredients of our personal history. The “docu-literary” structure of this monograph celebrates and fully exploits the duplicitous nature of photography/text to be simultaneously interpreted as both fact and fiction. At the surface, this project explores the emotive, contextual, and material constructs of history, culture, personal identity, memory, and folklore.”
Pine Tree Ballads is Thulin’s first book. With an afterword, by poet Dora Malech.
Paul Thulin’s photographs have been exhibited nationally and internationally at United Photo Industries, NYC; Candela Gallery, Richmond Va.; Chicago Art Fair; PPAC, Philadelphia; AAC, Washington DC; Toronto Art Fair, Foto Gallery, Barcelona; Grand Prix Fotofestival Lodz, Poland; the Athens Photo Festival, Greece; the Center for Fine Art Photography, Colorado; Mt. Rokko Photography Festival, Japan; the Kuala Lumpur International Photoawards, Nera di Verzasca Photo Festival, Switzerland, FIF_BH – International Festival of Photography, Brazil; and the Noordelicht Photo Festival, The Netherlands.
Thulin has been the recipient of a variety of photographic prizes and awards including a 2001 TPI National Graduate Fellowship, a 2006 Virginia Commission for the Arts Artist Fellowship, 2013 Conveyor Magazine Exhibition Grant, 2015 Hariban Award Honorable Mention, 2015 Critical Mass Top 50, and the 2015 Lensculture Emerging Talent Grant. Pine Tree Ballads was highlighted in the May 2016 British Journal of Photography, and awarded the 2016 Renaissance Prize London for Best Series. He currently lives in Richmond, Virginia and works as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Photography and Film at Virginia Commonwealth University.
A small farmhouse surrounded by a dark forest of ancient pines struggles against the incessant nor’easter gusts of the Atlantic ocean. History creaks in the swaying limbs of this land where generations have discovered moments of wisdom, adventure, fear, and the miraculous.
PINE TREE BALLADS is a poetic vision of land, family, and time. In the early 1900s, my great-grandfather settled on the coast of Maine because it resembled his homeland of Sweden. My family has returned to Gray’s Point each summer for over a century. This photographic sequence resonates with a subtext of struggle and hope that mirrors my narrative sense of self and heritage. In this place, stories have arisen from the mouths of both the young and old that over time have become the essence of my family’s identity. These images construct a unique memoir weaving the magical aura of an ancient, shared, historical record with the mysterious dreams met on dark moonless nights when one does not know if their eyes are open or closed. – Paul Thulin
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