Throughout history, people used fire to clear land for farming. During my childhood in Italy, these fires sparked my interest and later I photographed the fires racing across the Italian landscape. Controlled burns are used to protect and nurture the Oak Savannahs. The increasingly urban nature of the Golden Horseshoe has squeezed these rare landscapes into specially designated areas, including High Park in Toronto. Fire is integral to these ecosystems, stimulating the germination of savannah species and controlling invasive ones. The fires quicken the decomposition of scruff; add nutrients to the soil, and the heat absorbed by the ground acts as a catalyst to germinate oak acorns.
My work investigates time and transformation in the landscapes of the endangered Oak Savannahs of Southern Ontario. I reference Marshall McLuhan’s, “all-at-once-ness” by using multiple photographs and double exposures to investigate the morphology of these rare environments. The short video highlights the controlled burn of 2014 in High Park, Toronto, just behind Grenadier Restaurant.
Controlled Burn, High Park, Toronto
Video, Frances Patella
Fire is the catalyst to the ecologies of the Oak Savannahs, transitioning through cycles of destruction and rejuvenation. My photographs trace time and witness the visual complexity of the Savannahs, transformed into ephemeral places by fire and smoke. Photographs taken over time are woven incrementally to reveal the fabric of these rare environments.
My work depicts collections of moments, which is closer to how we experience reality. I return to the same locations repeatedly over a period of time to capture the ephemeral, but also the endangered.
Frances Patella, Sept. 2015