Artist/Wanderer Klee Larsen on Inspiration, Coffee in Bed and Whisky at Night

Photographer and mixed media artist Klee Larsen Crawford has a lot on her plate, including an upcoming exhibition in conjunction with The Pie Shoppe‘s 5th anniversary (in their satellite gallery, the Sugar Cube Cabin on November 9),and the Eastside Culture Crawl (November 16-19). Klee recently took a breather from her busy schedule to fill us in on her thoughts, creative endeavours and pie slice of choice.

What is your connection with The Pie Shoppe and Sugar Cube Cabin? I first met the French sisters, Stephanie and Andi, when they did a pop-up pour over of the coffee they roast at Le Marché St George when I was the manager. I remember instantly enjoying their company. I would come down to visit them at the first Pie Shoppe [in Chinatown] and that turned into a friendship.

Sweet or savoury? Savoury.

Favourite pie? Pumpkin; it’s a good cross between savoury and sweet.

Your drink of choice? Coffee in bed in the morning and whiskey at night.

What compels you to take photographs? I come from a very creative family and I was always encouraged to create. Photography specifically for me is about freezing a moment in time and being able to create your own world.

Why film? I trust film. When I use film I feel like I have either nailed it or completely screwed it up and I like that feeling. When I use digital its more for documenting, I double check, not convinced its what I’m after. Film is still total magic to me.

What type of film do you use? I love really high speed film and usually I’m shooting it in bright situations. I’m looking for lots of grain and texture so for black and white Illford 3200 iso. I shoot 120 and for colour it’s getting a bit more difficult to find 800 iso so I end up pushing 400 iso a lot.

Least favourite thing about film? Other than the cost it can be a little bit difficult traveling with it. You don’t want to have it scanned at customs and persuading people to hand check it can be challenging sometimes. I’ve had it test positive for explosives a couple times now too.

Film and film processing has become increasingly elusive. How has your practice/process changed since you began taking photos? I honestly don’t know if it has. Maybe I take a little bit less experimental photos but I also just feel confident with it. Or maybe I have changed my practice as an artist into more of a mixed media practice because of this. You’ve got me thinking.

Where do you see yourself and your practice in the next year? I made the leap this summer to be a full time artist so hopefully I can still be doing this in a year and have it fully sustain me. I would also love to do some artist residences.

The next project you’re excited about? Other than this show at The Pie Shoppe I’m also getting ready for the Culture Crawl; a show in Victoria Dec 1 – 2nd at Upside gallery; and then going to Toronto to be part of a show at Studio 7 Dec 7 – 10th. Very excited to do some traveling with my work.

Your first camera? A Konica with this amazing, shitty lens that would vignette the photos. I thought it was so cool.

Current camera? Twin lens reflex by Yashica. I “borrowed” it from my sister 10 years ago. It’s been on some pretty awesome adventures with me.

Tell me about your latest exhibition. “The Park” is a mixed media show that is photo based. This summer I went on a road trip by myself and drove up north. I went through Banff and Jasper for the first time and made it up to the Yukon. I love shooting dreamy and moody photos and because of all the forest fires the smoke definitely added to that. Before I left I had started prepping some boards with paint as this is the base layer of my work. I then take the images and print on a transparent paper and seal it with resin.

Favourite photographer? Sheila Metzner! I remember being so drawn to her use of grain. She is one of the main reasons I wanted to become a photographer.

Most memorable photograph? The first one of Metzner’s that jumps in my head is the image where the model is almost kissing a marble sculpture. It’s so dreamy.

Your favourite park in Vancouver? Going to have to say Stanley Park. You can get so lost and see so many beautiful things. Ocean, trees, lagoons, flowers and really good people watching.

Your favourite park in the world? I think right know it would be Tombstone National park in the Yukon. It’s where I took a lot of the photos for this show. It’s so beautiful and raw looking.

Your favourite view? The beach and ocean cause it’s alway changing.

A place that you haven’t been but would love to visit (and, presumably, photograph)? So many places, but I feel a draw to go to Scotland. I think it would be right up my alley for beauty.

Your favourite rainy day activity? Probably a nice glass of wine and a podcast. And a hot bath. In no particular order.

What music is currently inspiring you? I’m really lucky that my parter in crime Sean Evans is a musician and a music enthusiast. He has really opened the world of ambient music to me. I love how it’s there but not and weaves in and out. I’m really excited too because he is going to be playing some of his ambient music at the opening on Thursday and adding some drums and other effects to turn it into a live performance.

How did you get involved in the Eastside Culture Crawl? My best friend from high school’s mom Pam Hudson has been in 1000 Parker St. building for 30 years and she has rented me part of her space for the last 5 years. So this will be my 5th crawl. I remember coming to visit her and being in 1000 Parker St. building at a young age and just wanting to be a part of it so badly. It’s a pretty amazing experience, and also Pam is the best studio partner, so we have a lot of fun with it.

Favourite thing about East Van? This might sound strange but the light. I feel like the light is different in East Van. Also, all the creative people doing their thing.

Something that you’d like to see change in Vancouver? It’s a pretty common subject but probably the cost of living. I think we have and we are gonna lose a lot of creative people because of the cost of living in this city.

Your neighbourhood haunt? When I’m at my studio, Strange Fellows for sure.

Many of your photographs have a nostalgic and eerie or melancholic feeling to them…is that intentional? Yes, that is intentional. I think it’s grown more that way because of the way I integrate the painting to them. Blurs the line between if it’s a painting or a photo and creates a dreamy effect that leads to the nostalgic eerie feel.

What was your last unexpected or unusual source of inspiration? I think, specifically, the smoke from the forest fires this summer was a pretty big inspiration in such a destructive way. I don’t think I would have nearly such an interesting body of work from the road trip if I hadn’t come across that.

What was your first memory? My second birthday cake. I remember a cake being decorated in real flowers. We had just moved to Salt Spring Island and it was spring.

How do you want to be remembered? It’s funny because my work has such a eerie and moody feel to it but for the most part I’m a pretty happy-go-lucky person. So I would say happy and compassionate and that I made unique art that made people relive memories.

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There are 2 comments

  1. I’m a solid fan of Klee’s work and have been since the first time I laid eyes on it. She has her own voice that hums quietly through her work with a soft insistency, that calls you into her moody scapes and invites you to linger there. I’m not surprised that she answered the call to head North during the fires. Her eyes were the right ones to record the uneasy poetry of the smoky aftermath. It’s the thing that I sense in her….and ultimately, in her work….that she heads with an open spirit into the often murky, but fertile, underbelly of beauty….and delights in her findings. And so do I!

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