Photog plants roots in Edmonton Musician Project

George Ireland GigCity EdmontonIt always seems surprising when an artist moves to Edmonton from somewhere else, survives a winter or two and still decides to stay. When music photographer Erin Walker moved here from Burlington, Ontario two years ago, her friends thought she was crazy.

“My parents did, too,” she says. “Everyone thought I was crazy going to Edmonton. They just have no idea. They just think, well, the weather, and they also think of it more like a working city. I don’t think a lot of people know about the arts scene, the music.”

Oh, it’s a working city all right. But it was Edmonton’s music scene that kept Walker here. From family photography, she moved onto taking pictures of musicians she’s since made friends with. “It’s more fun,” she explains. “With kids, you just can’t have a beer and hang out.”

The results of her work can be seen in an exhibit of photos showing at the Artery on Saturday, Sept. 13: The Edmonton Musician Project. Two of the subjects are performing, including soulful singer-songwriter Kimberley MacGregor and the fiddle band the Misery Mountain Boys, with Amy Van Keeken also on the bill. They’re all studio portraits on stark white background with ghostly cityscapes double-exposed on the bodies of the subjects (including George Ireland, above). Walker says the goal was to promote the city as much as the musicians therein. Or is it the other way around?

Burlington doesn’t have much of a music scene (perhaps best known best for spawning Finger Eleven), mainly because it’s close enough to Toronto to get obliterated by that city’s radiant buzz as the Centre of the Universe. Walker says she finds Edmonton’s music scene much more welcoming.

“I feel like it’s accessible. You can actually get into the scene pretty easily. It’s not pretentious or anything. People are really friendly and open, whereas in places like Toronto I never really felt that kind of connection.”

Scott Cook GigCity Edmonton