Scott Smith is an artist and photographer who has created many incredible pieces and pictures. His most recent project is a photo book entitled “Abandoned Prairies” and it is literally a work of art in itself. I recently interviewed him about this beautiful book.
I understand you have published a beautiful photo book about abandoned buildings in this area. What prompted this?
It was important to me that I share my images with others, but in the most affective way possible. This way wasn’t going to be displayed on a phone, tablet, or laptop screen, and compressed on Facebook or Instagram which makes the images lose much of their impact. I knew that they had to be printed in order to work, and many of the photographs I haven’t shown before simply because of this reason. Printing my work isn’t only for quality reasons, I feel that it also gives a certain tangibility and presence to the images that is lacking online. I was drawn to the book format because I feel that the messages that the images convey are more powerful collectively, and the photo book allowed me to share them all synchronously, and also establish a kind of visual narrative though the sequence and layout of the photos. All of this combines to give the images the expression that I think they deserve.
Have you always liked old buildings?
I think I have always had an interest in ruined structures, particularly the ones that are too far gone to repair. With their function or usefulness as shelters expired, they are more like sculptures to me than old buildings, and I find that conceptual transformation interesting. Growing up in a city, however, didn’t bring me into contact with old abandoned buildings too often. It wasn’t until moving to Deloraine just a couple years ago that I began really exploring my interest in these structures. As an artist and a photographer, I am constantly searching for inspirational subjects, and it is these three quintessential aspects of rural southwestern Manitoba that I found in abundance; abandoned buildings, gorgeous sunsets, and wide open prairies.
What radius of Deloraine are these buildings?
The buildings are all approximately within a 40km radius of Deloraine. That’s all I’d be able to say anyways not only to protect the privacy of the landowners and the buildings themselves, but also because, admittedly, I myself have forgotten where many of them are. I relied a lot on my guide, a retired local farmer who not only knew the locations, but put me in touch with some of the owners themselves. If it weren’t for him I wouldn’t have even found many of the buildings.
Is the history of the buildings included in the book?
The short answer is no, but not because I do not think that it is important. I was inspired by the buildings purely from a creative standpoint, and had no prior knowledge of the history of the structures themselves. I didn’t need to know the history in order for them to be valuable to me artistically. This initial creative interest in the buildings is what I wanted to emphasize and what I wanted to share. For me, the images explore metaphysical concepts to do with art and time symbolized by things like abandoned buildings, sunsets, and photography, and their interrelations. Even so, I am glad that the images do naturally inspire nostalgia, and for some, personal memories with the depicted buildings. I think that the preservation of the past, our past, is extremely important. With that said, there are many great books that explore local history, and I am unqualified in this area. I wanted to share the buildings as something different than historical artifacts, something that I do know, art.
Do you have a favourite?
Hmmm not really. In my mind they all work together as one to some extent. However, I do love sunsets, so maybe a slight bias towards those ones.
Do you have other projects on the go?
Several. That seems to be the way I work, bouncing from project to project. I have an oil painting that I have been working on for the past 2 years, the end is in sight though. Other projects include: media production and web design for companies, client photo sessions for my commercial photography business, other photography and art related books, as well as planning a future trip to Iceland to explore aspects of my ancestral heritage and to photograph the stunning landscape.
Where are the books available?
Currently the only place is to order them is online. There is video showcasing the entire book and a link to order it on my website, www.ScottSmithPhotos.com.