guest curator

Clare Vander Meersch

The Print Atelier is very happy to have a chance to present you an exclusive interview and curated collection by one of the busiest women in the photography industry.

As Director of Photography for the Globe & Mail magazines, Clare Vander Meersch can be considered as the artistic eyes of the biggest news network across Canada, with more than one million readers. Her many years of experience are to be seen as inspiration for many photographers and artists who aspire to create timeless photographs that capture one’s attention.

The Print Atelier: Tell us about the journey that led you to become Director of Photography for the Globe & Mail magazines.

Clare Vander Meersch: I have always been a huge fan of the photographic medium. I came by it honestly, my grandfather was an English landscape photographer. He gave me my first camera and I took to the road. When I was a teen, I was obsessed with Time magazine covers. After a few years of explorations, I realised that we all can’t be photographers and that my strengths were actually better matched to supporting talent. So I set off on a path of photo editing born from my love of magazines. I got my first break at Shift mag. I interned in the art department and landed a job as a picture editor. My love of cross pollinating photo genres, really dovetailed with their approach. Shift folded when it was in its heydey, and some members of the team landed at the Globe & Mail. They campaigned to bring me in, and 14 years later, I’m still here… and still love it. Never in history has the importance of the visual narrative been more in demand. The access I get to subjects and photographers through the nature of my position here is an unparalleled gift.

How does the advent of digital photography affected your work as Director of Photography?

It has sped everything up. And I miss the craft and consideration of film and still think it has its place. Especially in the art world. I’m probably the only photo editor in Canada who still occasionally commissions film shoots for magazines.

What advice would you give to young documentary photographers?

Personal long term projects. Find your story, and invest in it.

Tell us about your involvement as curator for the Boreal exhibition of the Festival Zoom Photo.

This was the first time I was asked to guest curate a show. It grew out of a promo that I was approached to work on with the Boreal collective. They wanted to do a newsprint based piece. So we worked on something together that turned into more of an art project than a traditional promo. The double-sided newsprint spreads could be pulled apart and hung as the viewer see fit. It got a good amount of feedback. When the festival director saw it, he asked them if they could expand upon it for a show.

As a curator, what elements do you take into consideration when reviewing your images selection?

The work in relation to the space it hangs is important. Let the message fit the medium. Right now, I’m kind of into the idea that art shows can be less precious and move beyond a print in a frame. Push outside that box.

Outside of work, what is the place of photography and art in your life?

It’s all encompassing. I’m usually flipping through magazines, trolling art online, attending openings (and dragging along my young son), or when I’m lucky, visiting a photo festival. My personal life plays into my photo obsession too. As does my charitable work through the Magenta Foundation.

Do you collect art?

Of course. It’s my RRSP (i.e Registered Retirement Savings Plan) !

If one were to present your collection in the form of an exhibition, what would be the headline on the invitations?

The forest. I’m endlessly entertained by images of trees. They are alive, just like us.

What artist, work, exhibition astonished your eyes in 2014?

I’m glued to everything Nadav Kander does. He’d be my dream to work with.

What artists will you keep an eye on for this coming year?

Anyone who finds me on Facebook. Arnold Frolics is doing some really interesting figurative studies en masse. And I just saw a show by Lizzie Vickery who knocked me out with her rigorous formal studies on shape and colour, all hand tooled in wax. There was a real Victorian sense of pouring love and time into the art (but done in a modern way). The effort put into those sets is kind of mind boggling!

From your point of view, what makes The Print Atelier different from the other online galleries?

It’s all about having a consistent point of view and a roster of talent that support that vision.