It is with great sadness that we share with you the news of Wesley Anderson’s passing. Wesley died peacefully in his sleep on December 3, 2012. He and Sam Lam had spent five weeks on holiday in Guangzhou, China. Wesley returned home just a week before he passed away.
We at Diane Farris Gallery had the pleasure of working with the Saskatchewan born artist from 2002 – 2011. In addition to two solo shows, throughout those years Wesley’s light boxes were common fixtures in our group shows and in the back rooms.
The level of detail in Anderson’s work was so fine that terms like stolon, stipule, sepal, axil and filament come to mind. He was fascinated by every hair and pore on the stems and bodies. Images from his 2004 series were based on summer flowers and moved from bud through bloom to decomposition. Particularly striking were the shifts in point of view and the partial dissections. In several pairs of work, he followed the stunning flower heads from earlier to later stages of growth as they begin to separate and reveal the fragile structures beneath the petals.
“I want to get past the flower as a pretty object. That’s certainly been done before. Usually I photograph something that is just emerging or dead and decaying. For example, a tiny seed pod that others might overlook or ignore is a thing of fascination to me. I strip it bare and expose a beauty that most people don’t see.”
The images for Wesley’s stunning light box installations were shot on a large-format camera which was specifically hand built for him. His desire was to illuminate the minutest specimens of nature is possible with this beautiful instrument. The lens moved backwards and forwards on the end of an 8 foot bellow – much like an elephants trunk – supported by three tripods. The length was needed for the magnification of up to five times real-life scale. Long exposures of up to two minutes made it possible to shooting late at night when it was perfectly dark and still.
“Artists for centuries have used the botanical as subject matter for their artistic statement. I endeavor to display them in a unique form – illuminating and, in many cases, simplifying the specimens. I’m often thrilled to see what the large format camera sees that we as viewers so often overlook.”
Wesley Anderson was a secondary school art teacher and department head in the North Vancouver School District for almost 30 years. In 1992, the British Columbia Art Teachers’ Association nominated Anderson for BC Art Teacher of the Year. After his retirement in 1998, he became the Assistant Director of the Artists for Kids Trust in North Vancouver. Anderson photographed both exotic and domestic plants during his travels through Europe and Southern Asia. Locally, he maintained an extensive horticultural garden with a mix of native and tropical vegetation.
Wesley Anderson will be missed by all of us who knew him.
- Wesley Anderson’s Floral Transparencies
- Seed Pod images
- Wesley Anderson’s Various Views of Flora
- Pitcher Plant