External. Internal. Bill Anderson

The third of six exhibitions of the Capture Photography Festival I viewed on Saturday was Bill Anderson’s exhibition, External. Internal. which was on at the Winsor Gallery. Anderson was born in Edinburgh, Scotland but now lives in Vancouver, BC.  The Winsor Gallery is quite small, but has lovely high ceilings and has quite an airy feel to it, which make this a great space for Anderson’s large images. Anderson’s work has been featured in various exhibitions in Vancouver and Los Angeles.

His work is a series of photo-based mixed media constructions, some featuring marks made on city exteriors – mainly the white salty residue that forms on windows as a result of rain or sea spray and the views one experiences from the interior into the exterior.

Studio, External. Internal, 2017 by Bill Anderson
Photograph Mounted on Plexi and Wooden Panel
72 X 39 in

The Studio image above features a triptych of a cityscape, most probably the Vancouver skyline behind a salt encrusted plexiglass. Up close one comes face to face with the salty residue and can barely make out the grey outline of the city, but standing back one gradually finds the city moving into focus. It feels so much like looking out of a high-rise apartment window on a grey, rainy day and there is a pervading sense of gloom attached to this image. The only colour in the image being the complementary colour strips at the top and bottom of the image which serve to anchor and emphasis the “window” that the viewer is looking through.

Happiness is a Warm Spoon, 2017 by Bill Anderson
Photograph Mounted on Plexi and Wooden Panel
66 X 48 in

Some of the other work on display took the form of hoardings covered in posters, in various stages of deterioration. I was particularly drawn to his Happiness is a Warm Spoon image. On first glance one sees some posters of Campbell’s condensed soup, a nodding homage to Warhol. But these images of canned soup are only a play on Campbell’s products. Instead they are stamped with locations and actions that apply specifically to the Vancouver Downtown Eastside, which is the area where drug addicts hang out. Some of the tins read “Carnegie’s Condensed Volunteer Soup”. Carnegie being an old (by Vancouver standards) historical library that is located on the corner of East Hastings and Main Street, which is now a community centre and hangout for drug addicts. The area around this location features many volunteer organizations, e.g. soup kitchens, safe injection sites, half-way homes and so on, hence the “volunteer” in the title. Another tin cites remnants of “Downtown Eastside” in its title. The spoon in the middle of the image references the many soup kitchens in the area. These torn images of cans on the hoardings are representative of the people society has forgotten about or ignores. The cans as broken or torn apart as their lives are. An extremely poignant image indeed!

About his work he writes:

Each image in the series, Continuum, consists of an accumulation of images made from different vantage points and times of day, the piling up of the near and far, and overlapping presents – the many here and nows. Forms, and their colours, light and shade, mingle to create new and unique forms that, no matter how strange, always seem pertinent.

Since the final image is made in situ, and not constructed afterwards, the approach depends a great deal on intuition and spontaneity. One misstep along the way and there is no going back. I believe this allows for a more intimate and revealing dance with the subject, whether it’s as common as a plastic bag or as dynamic as a religious pilgrimage. However, my main concern does not lie with the act of recording a place, or even with interpreting it, it has more to do with using its resources to create another place, and that that place should reside in the two dimensions of the art – the art itself as place.

Winsor Gallery

Reference List

Winsor Gallery (n.d.) Bill Andersonhttp://www.winsorgallery.com/artist.asp?aid=163&id=7799&offset=0&detail=b [online] Winsor Gallery. Available at: [Accessed 3 April, 2017]


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