It is very exciting to work with an artist who continually strives to take his work to a new level. Barry Pottle is just such an artist. Originally from Rigolet, Nunatsiavut, NL, and now living in Ottawa, Barry has worked for years with the Indigenous arts community in the South. Always interested in photography, he has spent many years in his adopted city capturing images that reflect the culture, activities, concerns and life of the largest urban population of Inuit outside the North. Barry, who believes that the concept of Urban Inuit is for the most part unexplored, captures the uniqueness of this community through the camera lens. Barry has now moved beyond photojournalism to explore conceptual photography in his search to reflect contemporary Inuit issues and reality. This is evident in his Awareness Series (2009–16), currently on exhibit at the Art Gallery of Hamilton. This photographic suite consists of 19 haunting images recounting the RCMP’s contact with Inuit. The images magnify the Eskimo Identification Tag, developed for census purposes by the Canadian government beginning in the 1940s. Through this work, Barry sheds light on the living history of colonization, bridging the gap between the disc number (tag) and the people. With this new, tighter focus on singular aspects of the urban Inuit community, I greatly look forward to the next body of work in which the richness and beauty of Barry’s images will reflect his profound and sensitive insight.
Barry Pottle Still Life (Inuit) 2009 Digital photograph COURTESY THE ARTIST