Form and Substance

Ruth Dick

Ruth Dick is a master at capturing the solitary. Almost every image she takes focuses intently on a single object, somehow stimulating a desire to engage in self-reflection. Even her landscapes seem like their sole purpose is to put us in our place. It is not surprising then, when you find out her background is in philosophy and law.

Like O’Keefe, Ruth is able to conjure up form and substance in abstract ways that deftly imbue her images with fresh import. A pepper is not a pepper. It is a beacon of hope and rebirth. Appropriate and much needed for where we are today.

“…what constitutes the fun of shooting remains the same as it it always has to me: to discover the shot, rather than design it. I’m as technical as I need to be (sometimes not!) and I get what I get. Photography is for me a way of communing with, even submitting myself to, the world. I get asked, given many of my images, why I don’t take up painting. Want of time, but also this – what I love about photography is that it can capture the world as it is in that moment.

If a picture, be it a face, a mountain, gradations of colour or repetition of shapes, evokes a feeling, then I’ve succeeded as an artist. What photography is emphatically *not* about for me is dominating my subject. Many do that to powerful effect, and I take my hat off to them. But it’s not what I do, it’s not what I’m interested in doing.”


Photo by Peter Stockland

Ruth Dick is originally from Winnipeg and now resides in Ottawa. Her work is held in private collections in Canada, the United States, France, and the UK. Prior to its closing, she was represented by the Cube Gallery in Ottawa. She collaborated with Royal Canadian Academy of Arts member designer Paddye Mann on a book of Mann’s work for the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. She has also collaborated with fashion designer Muriel Dombret, who designed a collection around Ruth’s work which was launched in conjunction with an exhibit of the photographs. Primarily self-taught, her formal training is in philosophy and law.

~ Posted by Mark Walton