Thaddeus Holownia

Silver Ghost, 2005-2007


Silver Ghost is an homage to the Atlantic salmon and its rivers. The title evokes both the physical and spiritual nature of this most magnificent of game fish and its native rivers. It also refers to the medium of black and white photography used here to fix the fleeting images of this elusive species and its mercurial habitat. Finally, the title alludes to the looming fate of the Atlantic salmon if the current anthropogenic forces of extinction are not reversed.


Thaddeus Holownia has travelled to the major salmon rivers of eastern Canada, in all seasons, to capture their essential qualities. Employing his signature, large-format 7"x17" view camera, his images memorialize and celebrate the riparian habitat of the Atlantic salmon: its geology, forests, pools and runs, as well as its cultural artifacts. Among the rivers being featured are the Pinware in Labrador, Humber in Newfoundland, the Margaree in Cape Breton, the Miramichi, Upsalquich and Restigouche in New Brunswick, the Grand Cascapedia in Gaspe, and the Penobscot in Maine. 


Thaddeus Holownia explores the intersections of nature and humanity. Specifically, he deals with how humanity changes landscape, how the forces of nature mould human structures, and how the two coexist. His work calls attention to various ecological and political issues that are of growing concern. Holownia's practice uses altered landscapes to convey the precarious relationship between man and nature. To expose these landscapes he returns to a place over years, even decades, and creates a photographic catalogue of the transformation.

As a young artist, Holownia was part of Toronto’s hip and burgeoning art scene. He left Toronto in 1977 for a two-year teaching job at Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick. Professor Holownia became Head of the Photography Department and is now Head of the Fine Arts Department. Enchanted by his surroundings, Holownia remained there and has never returned to living in an urban environment. His move to the Maritimes served to heighten his awareness of deeper moral and spiritual issues that are now the foundations of his ecologically conscious work.