Art from Western Canadian Collections: November 14-19

By: Julia Trojanowski

A Focus on the rich tradition of photo-based art from Canada’s West Coast

Lot 35 – Roy Arden, Landfill, Richmond B.C., chromogenic colour print, 1991

Waddington’s upcoming auction Waddington’s West: Art from Western Canadian Collections features a number of works hailing from a rich tradition of photo-based art on the West Coast.

The “Vancouver School of Photo-conceptualism” rose to the fore as a descriptor around the 1990s, during which time questions about the nature of photography and its capacity as a mode of expression were being negotiated by major players such as Jeff Wall, Ian Wallace, and Roy Arden. Many Vancouver-based photo-artists balk at the term, taking issue with its exclusivity and its tending toward oversimplification. In any case, the photo-conceptual practices of West Coast artists – varied as they are – continue to highlight the dynamism of Canada’s western-most metropolis.

exploring the man-made environment

Landfill, Richmond, B.C., Lot 35, is a spectacular example of the type of monumental exploration of the man-made environment that characterizes this particular era of Roy Arden’s work. Urban detritus is framed in a way that would feel at home to any eighteenth-century British painter dealing in the picturesque, and its consideration of the changing landscape is as relevant now in the age of mounting climate crisis as it was during the era of breakneck development in 1990s Vancouver. A work that is as stunningly incisive as it is timely, Landfill, Richmond, B.C. is a part of the permanent photography collection at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).

Lot 38 – Karin Bubaš, Ivy House, Office Supplies on a Desktop, archival pigment print 2003

Capturing Everyday Life

Elements of the everyday are enshrined in Karin Bubaš’ quietly mesmeric photographs. Familiar settings – a crowded desk, a vanity table, or an empty swimming pool – are bathed in muted light, preserved in a moment of repose. Every photograph is imbued with a sense of profound, anthropological interest in the lives of those who move through these spaces. Works from Bubaš’ 2003 Ivy House series figure among the auction’s highlights. We invite collectors to look at lot 37, Ivy House, Vanity, lot 38, Ivy House, Office Supplies on a Desktop, lot 39, Ivy House, Worn Carpeting on Stairs, as well as lot 33, Nelson Aquatic Centre Triptych.

Investigating Urban Life

Stephen Waddell, the 2019 winner of the prestigious Scotiabank Photography award, is known for his evocative investigations of the urban world. His photographs feature a distinctive sense of space and scale, not to mention an attentiveness to framing and composition that recalls devices more commonly found in historical painting. Photographs like lot 36, Coal Handler, encapsulate the dynamism and alienation that characterize modern city life.

A digital montage

The painterly and the digital coalesce in Scott McFarland’s practice. His process involves the stitching together of images into a digital montage, resulting in a variegated collection of moments that combine seamlessly to form his distinctive composite pictures. McFarland’s works feature in major collections such as that of the MoMA, the National Gallery of Canada, and the Vancouver Art Gallery. We invite collectors to look at lot 34, Judges Walk and lot 40, Burnt Glove.


Waddington’s West: Art from Western Canadian Collections will be offered online November 14 – 19. The full gallery can be viewed by clicking here.

Please contact Jacqui Dixon at [email protected] for condition reports or to book a preview appointment. Health and safety protocols are in place.

All artworks are located in Vancouver and shipping is the responsibility of the successful bidder.

Please note that the auction begins to close at 2 pm ET / 11 am PT.

Scott McFarland, Judges Walk, Lot 34. Ink jet print, 2008, 3/5. 

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