The River Artist Statement


As a young child, my earliest memory of the Ottawa River is picnicking along the reedy shores of Wychwood in Aylmer, Quebec, with my mother.  As a teenager, I combed the shorelines, collecting stones to make art with or photographing nature and old original cottages.

In the late 80’s, a friend introduced me to the bike path from Aylmer to Ottawa.  While biking to work, I grew acquainted with the wildness and secrecy of the river.  When I moved to Ottawa, the river of my youth expanded to include the Ontario side.  Over time I became aware of the river’s vulnerable status.

In 2007 my father was admitted to a nursing home in Aylmer and after my visits to him I returned to the Aylmer side of the river, finding solace in the forests and shoreline I knew as a child.

I started The River in 2004 with a plastic Holga camera.  In 2008, I approached the forest near Aylmer with a medium format camera, but I couldn’t repeat what I’d captured four years earlier.  The photographs lacked the unrefined quality that my memory of the river demanded, so I returned to the Holga and shot the rest of the series.

This project began with childhood memories of my mother and ended with an adult relationship with my Father, connected by the river.  It is a project about memory, family, about a place, a time, and relationships dear to me.

This series is dedicated to my father, Octavian Isztin.

Pedro Isztin