Tim Pelling Biography
The work of Canadian artist Tim Pelling takes various forms, regularly using environmental issues as a platform. His current series of landscapes deals with how humans impact their environment and how humanity is affected. At first glance, many of his images confront us with undeniable neglect and degradation, at the same time a quiet beauty emerges.
Tim works hard to keep things simple, both in his images and in his process. Born and raised on the Canadian prairie, the sweeping, stark landscapes of Saskatchewan influence how he creates his images and reduces complex landscapes to their innate essence. “I step into a chaotic environment and try to make sense of it all, bring order to what I see before me, an order that makes sense to me and hopefully to others. I am always looking for the intimate scene in the larger landscape to understand how nature contends with the consequences of our actions,” says Pelling.
After graduating from Emily Carr University of Art and Design in 1985, Tim lived and worked in Vancouver for a decade. His move to Asia in 1997 redefined and clarified the direction he would take over the next 20 years with assignments that have carried him all over the world.
Two recent projects include “liquid bangkok”, which examines the famous but deeply degraded waterways of Bangkok, and “cleared”, which explores the Canadian grasslands and how they have been altered by large-scale farming.
When not on location photographing, Tim divides his time between Southeast Asia and Canada.
Tim Pelling CLEARED Statement
The ancient grasslands of North America changed quickly once European settlers arrived.
Centuries of harmony between nature and man was upended by the creation of pastures and farmland.
And thus, the forced transformation has taken us from long rooted grasses and bison to the commerce of grain and cattle.
I grew up on the flatlands of Saskatchewan where this transformation took place a century before my time. I grew up unaware of what had happened. I only saw the beauty of the long, flat prairies and the overwhelming sky.
To me, it remains stunningly beautiful despite the almost total absence now of open grasslands. It is the large space that has had more impact on my life than any other.
And so I decided to go back to my prairie roots, to document it, to meditate in it, to relearn it. And once there, I felt the cold and the heat again. And I saw how the wildlife and the landscape had adapted to the era of cultivation. I saw a beauty unsurpassed.
I spent long hours trying to locate views from my youthful memories, and then capture them in lengthy exposures that gather the last bits of light, evening out those large spaces where light, time and sky all come together.
These images are made to exist in a large scale, to be viewed directly, to immerse the viewer in the expanse. The sky touches a base of earth rich in nutrients, full of life, loaded with its own history and so much a part of my experience.
Tim Pelling LIQUID BANGKOK Statement
Liquid Bangkok sets out to capture the beauty of a neglected world found along the klongs of Bangkok, and in doing so, also highlight the degraded state of this vast network of waterways that flow through and around the city.
The water that passes through Bangkok has mesmerized me since my early days in the city – in part because it is in such contrast to the prairies of my youth. In Bangkok, I often found myself drawn to the klongs’ edges, seduced by the constantly changing light and shapes of the less than pristine tributaries. There is a distinct and unique energy to be found there for those who make the effort to search them out. At the same time, it is a difficult place that continually assaults the senses.
My images in this collection attempt to capture these opposing qualities by weaving the form of the water into the built environment that has grown around them. I don’t work with a preconceived plan. I make it more of a meditative journey.
Liquid Bangkok is the beginning of a wide-ranging water project using large scale landscape images as the vehicle to communicate the message of “how we form water and how it forms us”. My roots are in documentary photography and this is my first exploration using a technical camera, which is a slower method of working. This has changed the way I approach each subject; the slow set up creates more time for reflection, requiring me to fully commit to a given location.
My hope is that I have found an approach that defines these places with a measure of respect, without however, glossing over the serious environmental problems that plague this world of water that is a stunning part of the Bangkok urban landscape.