George Webber’s poignant black-and-white photographs transport us into the forgotten, unknowable communities of the Canadian prairies. Throughout the journey, we’re confronted by the mysterious particulars of life, death, landscape and faith. Intimate portraits and the hard facts of the place are woven together to create a body of work that is by turns inspiring, consoling and sometimes achingly sad. Individually, these works startle and challenge. As a collection, they represent a photographer’s decades-long meditation on the ever-changing face of the Canadian West.
Calgary photographer George Webber’s moody black-and-white photographs seem to violate any sense of the wide-open spaces of clichéd flatland lore. In this coffee-table book that features a 10-page essay by Alberta writer Aritha van Herk, Webber’s skies are overcast, more often than not, and towns are small and vulnerable, their bedraggled buildings tottering on the edges of rutted roads. Webber’s interiors have a similar cramped and mothballed quality, and the people that occupy them are often elderly, with faces as weathered as slumping barns, yet resolute in their steadfast gaze. Collectively, Webber’s images seem a visual dirge to what van Herk calls “a place beyond place – the country he documents something we feel in our bones and cannot help but look at, again and again.—Galleries West