Mary Gordon is a photographer from Kuujjuaq, Nunavik, QC, who has been taking photographs for over forty years. Her digital photography practice is complimented by her work with traditional garments, including beading, crocheting, and sewing parkas, kamiik, and accessories. Gordon began taking photos at a young age, obtaining her first camera, a one pin Kodak that needed a separate flash, before age ten (1). She was quick to get a digital camera as soon as they became available, and now uses a 35-mm with interchangeable lenses, as well as her iPhone camera.
Gordon’s subject matter varies from landscape photography to berry picking and hunting, and she prizes documenting traditional ways of preparing, butchering, and drying food (2). Despite her varied subject matter, her photography is always distinguished by its unique perspective. Where most arctic photographers shoot a subject head-on or, the case of landscape shots, from below, Gordon’s lens is fixed firmly on the ground, looking down from above. She uses the overhead viewpoint to depict “the beauty on the ground” (3) in compositions that play with the viewer’s sense of scale and power. Untitled (2019) is a great example of this manipulation: the dense, upright objects could be snow-covered trees shot from a great height, or a near microscopic view of clothing fibres and fur. Either way, the viewer is left with a sense of motion and as the camera passes over a seemingly un-ending vista.
Gordon is self-taught, and in the process of passing down her camera skills to her daughters. Of the hundreds of photographs she has taken over her lifetime, she retains only a few digital images, which she posts online diligently so others can experience the beauty she finds in the details on the ground.
1 Gordon, Mary. Interview by John Goeghegan. Phone. Toronto, September 2019.