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Bonnie Nish Reviews - Out of Season at The Ironworks

Stories Through A Lens: Out of Season
Photographs by Sam North
Review Bonnie Nish

A writer tells a story through the use of his words, using them to develop an idea or picture for his audience. A photographer uses his pictures to compose a story, having only a single image at his disposal to convey what it is he wants the audience to take away. For anyone who has read Hackwriters they know Sam North as an accomplished storyteller bringing his audience into a world full of wit, charm and adventure. Now we have a chance to see a different side of Sam, to catch a glimpse of another world, another exquisite story he has so beautifully captured.

Just on the outskirts of Vancouver’s Gastown, the Ironworks will be home to Sam North’s one-man photography show until May 30th 2003. His opening May 1st held a packed house as people wandered, examined, discussed and appreciated all of the different angles Sam has exposed through the use of his lens. Relaxed, people mingled, laughed and danced salsa as Sergio Pastrana from Acapulco, Mexico, serenaded with his Spanish guitar throughout the evening. Sam affably moved among his guests, answering questions and offering insight into any particular moment someone might want to know about.

Having lived in South Africa and England and having spent considerable time in Europe, Sam has captured unique instances that make the viewer become a part of the experience mixing an old world with a new world view. He gives us a peek of something more, making us want to explore the world he is showing us while allowing us to take away just enough to satisfy our curiosity.

In ‘Anglet" a beach in SW France draws the viewer to a semi-submerged rope while exposing the most incredible beach surrounding it. The picture becomes as pleasant as the beach capturing our attention with the rope, a commonplace thing juxtaposed with such an extraordinary setting.
‘Umbrellas’ exposes three people in Amersterdam street peering through a glass window. We become the voyager for the moment, observing this group without their knowledge, then like them we are drawn to the window by their mere presence and become just as intrigued by what we can’t see as by what we can. This theme is seen again in his photo ‘Secret’.

‘Secret’ a photo of a doorway surrounded by ivy that is beginning to show fall colours, draws us in by the composition Sam has chosen. By showing only the door we are left with a lot of questions. What lies beyond the door? Where is the door situated? Do we dare to open it? By giving us the closed door Sam has captured our imagination allowing us to go beyond the moment and decide for ourselves if we dare to go further. If not we are content with the image he places before us but if we do he has given us the means through which to enter another perhaps more fascinating world.
‘Courage’ is aptly named. A shot of a man walking down what looks like a flooded street in Venice. Where is he going? What is he braving? These streets, which have surely been flooded before, become more than just a path or a way home. They are a story and we can imagine if we will, what these stories may be.

These are but a few of the wonderful images Sam shares with us. If you are in Vancouver make it a point to catch this show. Have a glass of wine, sit at a stool, walk around and observe the pictures over and over again. See how many stories you come away with through the unique perspectives that this storyteller has captured through his lens. You will certainly be the richer for it.

© Bonnie Nish May 2003
Bonnie Nish runs ‘The Twisted Poets’ a open mike night for poets and storytellers on the third Monday of every month at El Cocal - Commercial Drive Vancouver.
Next night May 19th 2003

The Exhibition continues at The Ironworks 235 Alexander Street Vancouver
You can view the exhibition on line at


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