Terra Nova, literally “new land”, is a terrain both discovered and continually revealed. For twenty-five years, Thaddeus Holownia has made repeated and extended visits to Newfoundland and Labrador, discovering and revisiting places on both mainland and island. Throughout these journeys, Holownia’s signature medium, the banquet camera, has traveled with him. The resulting images of the changing landscape — from ferry’s berth in Argentia, through Gros Morne’s Trout River Gulch and the nickel cores of Labrador’s Voisey’s Bay, to the urban spaces and industrial harbour of St. John’s combine the fidelity of large-format negatives with the lucid clarity of the artist’s eye.
Time itself becomes material, each frame creating a world by removing a precise instant from life’s flux. Chronicling both continuity and change, Holownia’s photographs detail both Time’s passing on a natural, geological scale, as well as capturing the flux of our human presence in the landscape in vernaculars that mark our briefer time here, in this place. Terra Nova — colony, country, and province — is revealed as at once ephemeral and constant, a real place as much as an ongoing and unfolding idea.
As Nova Scotia poet Peter Sanger (a longtime collaborator with Holownia on the books Ironworks and Arborealis as well as curating the exhibition Laminae and contributing an essay to the publication of the same name) observes ‘…the photographs may be seen and read as lyrical meditations upon a landscape and seascape which uncover the processes which created the Atlantic side of the North America continent with an overwhelming sense, for the observer, of continuous, present force.’
Collection of the Art Gallery of Newfoundland and Labrador.