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Anne Douglass MacLean: Talking Landscapes

By Dee Dwyer 

close-up of carpet of colourful pebbles lining the floor of a watery pool at Martinique Beach; the textured wood grain of shingles and boats at the East Petpeswick Government Wharf; burnt sienna autumn trees on the shore of a misty lake in Kejimkujik Park—these are just three of the many images in the photographs by the talented Anne Douglass MacLean. Breathtaking and evocative beachscapes, seascapes, and landscapes of the Eastern Shore are her specialty and the subject of the rich language of her photographic work.

She grew up on Agricola Street in Halifax when the backyards were still farm fieldsHer father gave her a Brownie camera when she was eight, and later in her early teens, an Instamatic. She now has over ten cameras. 

She studied at Dalhousie University and at U. of T. and received her B. Ed. As a teacher, she worked in Rimbey, a small town in Alberta, whershe could see the landscape in all directions.  

She studied writing with well-known prairie writer and broadcaster O.W.  Mitchell at the Banff School of Fine Arts for three years in a row in the late 1970’s, and has an unfinished novel from that time. “I was excited when I heard that photographers there get an unlimited supply of film,” she says. When I ask her about the correlation between writing and photography, she says, “It’s about feeling and smell, all the senses are involved, touch and texture. 

She came back to Nova Scotia to teach junior high school in Halifax. She has spent many hours walking backroads, along Eastern Shore beaches, and canoeing lakes in Keji. “I am obsessed with landscape,” says Anne unabashedly. She shows me a photograph of a large piece of driftwood emerging from the sand. “I followed it around for six months,” she says.  

She came to the Eastern Shore to house-sit --and later to stay. At an Eastern Shore Forest Watch Association meeting she met Lynda Mallett, and ten years ago they formed Talking Water Studio. The name comes from canoeing trips to a lake in Milford where the water has a distinct voice--as do all of Anne’ photographs.   

Anne and Lynda work together to create calendars tied to the Eastern Shore. Their black and white calendar, primarily of landscapes, is called Writing with Light.  On their website they say that “our photography creates a language of images and a connection with the natural and cultural world, images which give a voice, reveal a way of seeing what is ‘nearer than the eye.’ (T. S. Eliot)”  

You can find Anne’s work at The Old School Gallery and often at the Musquodoboit Harbour Farmers’ Market. You can contact Anne at talkingwaterstudio@gmail.com. 

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11 E Petpeswick Rd, Musquodoboit Harbour, NS B0J 2L0

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