A long-time supporter of the arts in Calgary, and our dear friend, Harry Palmer passed away this month.

When we think we know a story, it is easy to assume that the story is complete, that there is nothing more to uncover.

However, Harry Palmer’s extensive photographic work, particularly notable for the breadth and depth of his sustained interest in Canada’s landscape and peoples, shows us that there are many more vantage points from which to understand the diversity and beauty of this country. He was a photographer of note, whose work illustrates the revelatory power of images that blur the line between documentation and art.

In countless photographs, he captured cultural and environmental attitudes, perceptions, and values of our time. His lens constructed scenes of casual and enigmatic daily life incidents in Alberta and British Columbia through his collection of portraits of ordinary people and great achievers and beautiful wide panoramic shots and intense colours of our landscape. He gave us an intimate view of the periphery as well, with photographs from his extensive travels through the Arctic North.

His images were exhibited and collected internationally and by leading national institutions, including the National Gallery of Canada.

Two particular recognitions made him very proud: the name of “mistaki spita” conferred by the Pikanni of Treaty 7, and the headdress Chiefs Reg Crowshoe, Leonard Bastien and Herman Many Guns presented to him in gratitude for having used the power of his lens to document the lives of First Nations. Harry’s regular support of the KO Arts Centre has enabled them to sustain their work with artists, audiences and communities.

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