contact photography festival toronto

Someone has captured the timeless cool of Toronto style in the 70s and 80s

Toronto artist June Clark has been capturing the city with her camera since the 1970s.

Now, after 40 years of contributions to the local art scene and exhibitions all over the world, she is being featured in this gorgeous retrospective at the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival.

contact photography festival toronto

Woman in McDonald's (Yonge St., Toronto), 1975

Originally from Harlem, Clark moved to Toronto in 1968, packing and leaving in 48 hours with her then-husband who was to be drafted into the Vietnam War.

When she arrived, along with all the other challenges of building a life, she was looking for community too.

Clark's husband gifted her a camera and that soon became the artform which would connect her to the neighbourhood, and eventually the city.

"I would just see people on Bathurst Street sitting on their stoops or their verandas and this, to me, is community, so I would photograph them and they seemed to love it, so I kept it up."

contact photography festival toronto

The Smoker, 1977

We asked Clark how she feels upon seeing all these photographs assembled together.

"When I look at the photographs now I experience a nostalgia – in the good sense of the word – for the times. The friends with whom I've lost touch. I think of working with the women of the Women's Photography Coop and how we worked so hard to get everything just right."

The Women's Photography Co-operative was a group Clark helped found with artists Laura Jones, Lisa Steele, and Pamela Harris, to name a photography festival toronto

 Henrys on Church Street, 1974

In the very male-dominated photography world of the 70s, the women faced all kinds of discrimination in the field. At U of T, they weren't even allowed to use the darkrooms.

So then, they forged their own way. Using two darkrooms in the basement of the Baldwin Street Gallery, the co-op taught themselves photography together.

contact photography festival toronto

On the streetcar. Toronto, 1979 / Resident of Barton Long Term Care Facility. 1977

Daniel Faria, who is presenting the exhibit, thought this was the right time to look back on this work. 

"June's artistic practice began by her making photographs in Toronto," he explains.

"Over the past 40 years, it has developed to include printmaking, collage, painting, sculpture and installation. Many of the photographs in the exhibition have never been seen and I thought this was a good moment to look back at June's early career."

The exhibit opens Saturday, April 29 at Daniel Faria Gallery and if you'd like to meet this great photographer, June will be present for the reception from 3 to 6 p.m. The show runs until June 3, 2023.

Photos by

June Clark

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