Richard Harrington: Arctic Photographer

richard harrington

At the WAG November 28, 2009 to March 14, 2010

Richard Harrington (1911–2005) was one of Canada’s most respected photographers. Emigrating from Germany in the mid-1920s, he travelled to over 100 countries in the course of his career: some 2,400 photograph stories were published in magazines and 24 books. In 1987 a major exhibition of his photographs, Incredible Journeys, was held at the Canadian Museum of Photography in Toronto.

A 1947 trip to Inukjuak in the eastern Arctic stirred his desire to see more of the Far North, and he made five trips over the next decade. His most famous Arctic trip was in early 1950 when he travelled by dog team to Arviat on the west coast of Hudson Bay and then headed inland to visit the remote camps of the Padlei Inuit. He discovered that the people were starving because of a change in caribou migration routes. When he returned to Churchill, he helped raise awareness of the problem. Some of his harrowing Padlei photographs of Inuit experiencing starvation have become Canadian icons and were featured in a book, Padlei Diary, 1950.

Harrington’s Arctic photographs now form an historical record of a vanishing way of life. A selection of photographs from his various trips isfeatured in this exhibition. It also includes several sculptures from the Gallery’s Inuit collection that reference a 1959 trip to Puvirnituq that focused on documenting the carving techniques of reputed sculptor Charlie Sivuarapik.


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