First, could you introduce us to yourself, and your work?
I am Brooklyn Stewart, and I am a print based artist currently living in Toronto. I grew up in a small town on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, and recently graduated from NSCAD University where although graduating with an interdisciplinary degree, I primarily studied lithography and screen printing in the Printmaking department. In my final year of study at NSCAD I developed a curiosity about my hometown’s past and how the essences of that past carry on into the present and future. It began with a study of the homes in Inverness, photographing them all, and creating a series of prints based on the similarity of these houses, which eventually lead me to realize how different they all really were. After focusing on homes, I turned my interest to the people of the town.
What was the inspiration for the Reconstructed|Recollection series?
Like I said, it began with a fascination with the Inverness’ past, as this was all happening while the town was (and still is) undergoing a huge transition from small town loved by locals to the home of a world class golf course, suddenly being written about in magazines, papers, and online posts from around the world. I was seeing changes, physical and abstract, every time I would visit, and it made me wonder about the changes I didn’t get to see, the ones that happened years ago, shaping the town as I knew it. I began collecting photographs from public archives, but it was the local historians who make a hobby of collecting and archiving that I found a treasure trove of photographs, letters, and news paper clippings that were the beginning of the Reconstructed|Recollection series.
As you were developing the series, how did your relationship to the subject matter change?
For anyone unfamiliar with lithography, and other such methods of printmaking, there is a lot of time spent at the press trying to get the image to come up on the paper just so. For me, it’s a very rhythmic and meditative process and I can work out a lot of thoughts while I’m printing, both related and totally unrelated to the work on the press bed.
I often found myself staring at these blown up photographs for so long that I was playing out entire narratives in my head. I felt like knew where these people worked and who they married, I fantasized about who their children were, and their children’s children, people that I would have grew up with. What started out as a sort of documentation of the past quickly turned into me creating my own past. I developed memories around these images and although they were not the same memories that other people had about the people and places shown in the prints, they were beginning to feel just as authentic. That’s where the title of this series comes from, taking apart stories the stories and lives of others, and rebuilding them to create a new history that suited me.