Monday, March 9, 2009

Ted Amsden: Untended Spaces

Amsden is an "emerging artist" with two decades of professional experience. He lives and works in an idyllic village in southern Ontario. There, he has been staff photographer for the local newspaper for years, his usual subject matter being kid's hockey games, sweet couples celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary, brainy scholarship winners, leaf-raking in the autumn... all that is personal, important and uniquely newsworthy in the life of a small town.

Interesting, then, that when Amsden goes on vacation, he trolls the urban brownfields and rustbelts of Canada and the U.S., finding and shooting abandoned industrial spaces with results that are beautiful, poignant and oddly redemptive. Over the years, he has built a strong body of work, privately sharing it with friends and fellow photographers, only occasionally and without fanfare exhibiting it in local photography festivals.

Given the undeniable timeliness of his images, it seems fitting that the work is now reaching a wider audience.

"I like to go where I'm not invited.. looking for beauty in all the wrong places.. got bush wacked by Poison Ivy.. lost in corridors fit for fright night movies.. loving/disgusted by the mess of it all... the disease of unkempt surfaces.. the nasty trails of vandals.. surfaces everywhere mutating, melting, rusting, chemically on the go with those nearby.. the creep of Nature coming first to touch, then twine, finally cover.. I tiptoed, crunched, stumbled, climbed over living breathing museums that off gas, mutate, expand and shrink according to the rules of entropy."

"...and as always... the beautifully invasive, quietly swarming hands of Nature reaching into shadowy untended spaces, a constant reminder of who really owns this planet."

Ted Amsden: Untended Spaces
March 12 to 31, 2009
A.K. Collings Gallery


  1. "looking for beauty in all the wrong places.. "
    He should try my basement - my husband is a obsessive-complusive e-junk collector! Drives me nuts!

  2. Dear Lynne
    Perhaps your husband could be encouraged to collect art by young artists instead. A far more productive way to discharge all that compulsive energy, and you'll both end up with something worthwhile. Put that OCD to good use! See previous post on Herb and Dorothy Vogel.

  3. Hi Ted - I love your photos, and will visit your show. You may enjoy a documentary that was on the History Channel a year ago, called "Life After People", that uses computer animation to show what happens to human artifacts over time as they decay. I am an artist, and that show has influenced my work since then.

  4. Thank you Pat. I will pass your comments on to Ted.

  5. Thanks, Aurelie. I think as artists we are drawn to beauty wherever it occurs, even (and maybe even more so) in situations that have overtones of environmental decay and ultimate disaster. These aren't pretty landscapes, and they may not go with your sofa, but they cause an emotional response in many people than is growing stronger as humanity begins to understand just what we have triggered in our biosphere.

  6. oooooh this is all so romantic.
    The last photograph reminds me of an old women's hospital that got converted to artist studios which became overgrown with ivy and plants that my highschool art teacher took me to see on a class trip to London!
    ah! big run on sentence..