Jill Fitz Hirschbold’s photographs carry the viewer into the West Coast world of waves, rust, and colour.
The Saanich artist has owned a camera for as long as she can remember and for her, it’s the perfect tool to express her feelings about life on the coast.
Upon entering Hirschbold’s Cadboro Bay home/studio – one of dozens featured during Saanich’s Artist Studio Tour this month – the senses are assailed by vibrant, textured photographs that demand closer inspection. Though some subjects are identifiable, many are elusive and ask that the observer abandon conventional perception. Hirschbold’s artistic philosophy is – like her photographs – somewhat abstract.
“I imagine all the stories and energies held within objects,” she says. “In old fishing boats I see all the years at sea and all the different people that have been on board. Old boats can actually tell you a lot.”
Hirschbold moved to Victoria 25 years ago to study environmental science at the University of Victoria. She fell in love with the city and never left. A licensed SCUBA dive-master, she first decided to get serious about photography with the purchase of an underwater camera, which she used to document a world beneath the waves.
“I’d always had a camera, but was just photographing everyday life. The underwater camera was where it all started. My husband and I used to fight over it, but I always won.”
The Saanich Artists’ Studio Tours gives art enthusiasts an inside look into artists’ creative spaces and explain exactly how they create their masterpieces. For those who will be dropping by Hirschbold’s studio, they should bring a coffee and prepare for a very enlightening discussion. Her take on art and photography jumps genres and rejects convention.
“I like to overlay music onto my photos,” she says, pointing at the different images adorning her walls. “Those two are Bon Iver, and there’s a lot of Pearl Jam around here too.”
Clairvoyance is defined as “an ability to perceive matters beyond the range of ordinary perception” and it might be just the word to describe what Hirschbold sees when she looks through her viewfinder.
“For me, photography is a way of capturing a moment of old energy, whether it’s in a sunrise or sunset, an old barge or fishing boat, or a beautifully engineered bridge.”
For a full list of studios on the tour now through June1, visit Saanich.ca and search for ‘Saanich artist studio tours’. Check out Jill Fitz Hirschbold’s website at jhirschbold.com.