Gregarious and oft’ seen ~ camera ’round neck, beret on head, rushing to and fro, or heading up Parliament Street at breakneck speed, Eric Morse has a very wide photographic territory and quite the ‘singular eye’ for detail.
Dubbed “The Cabbagetown Photographer” by former Cabbagetown BIA Chair Paul Dineen, Eric covers all of the Cabbagetown Festivals, functions at local charities, “dos” for politicians, and events at the Military Institute. He has taken an unanticipated sabbatical from artistic photography since March 2009 due to involvement in the provincial elections administration, but returns with an exhibition at the Parliament St Library (Parliament and Gerrard Streets), opening May 1 and running to May 31.
As a young boy ‘somewhere near Chapleau, Ontario’, Eric was given a Brownie Hawkeye plastic camera and went about “pestering” everyone for pictures. Morse says he has “some very blurry, very crooked, square photographs of his Grandmother’s knees! “You know, I had a relatively normal northern Ontario childhood, I grew up in small towns and lumber settlements in the Canadian shield, and…” he laughs, ”because nature was all around me, the object of my photography when I first got my hands on a camera, was to escape it, as much as possible!”
Later on, Eric did his degree in Soviet and Eastern European Studies at Carleton, “…which was all the rage at that point as International Relations and Defence Studies seem to be today. After my degree, I went off and spent a year at Leningrad State University, when it was exotic but not so fashionable. When I returned, there were only three things I could be: a ‘spook’ (spy), a diplomat, or a journalist and so I became first one, and then another of those.’
Morse has worked extensively in the non-profit and government relations sectors and has had a lengthy relationship with Canadian business, amateur sport, cultural and political communities. He is currently the Director of Communications for the RCMI. He also writes on international and foreign relations themes, appearing regularly in the Ottawa Citizen and occasionally in the Toronto Globe and Mail and the Star. He also reports and shoots for The Bulletin.
Throughout his life, Eric says photography has become important to him, progressing gradually to serious art. Streetscapes and streetcars have been two of his pet subjects. “Streetcars are very large, amiable, bright forms of urban wildlife” he quips, “they’re interesting and stimulating subjects, And of course right now they are in the centre of this current remarkable breakdown in civic politics.”
Former Mayor David Miller owns four miniatures of his streetcars, which under a previous administration hung proudly in City Hall.
Morse’s photographic style is realistic, journalistic, keeping the photographic essence of the image while introducing graphic elements into the background. Colour tends to be sparse and restricted to essential elements. “I’m unabashedly retro,’ he says. ‘As digital image-making has matured technologically and become pretty much everyone’s idiom – way more so than the Kodacolor print ever imagined being – there seems to be a stylistic reaching back…often not so much a replication of styles as of feeling.”
Eric’s lovely and well-known images of Cabbagetown, Riverdale Farm, The Island and his streetcar shots have been exhibited in many venues such as, Ben Wick’s; The Left Door, Praxis Gallery and City Hall among others. The twenty works featured at the May exhibition will feature a combination of old favourites and a selection of new works. The exhibit opens May 1 at 6 pm.
For selections of Eric’s images, visit http://www.photoshop.com/users/emorse.