Wednesday, September 16, 2009



I have made the acquaintance of Richard Stanford, a multi-media artist, film producer, director and scriptwriter, photographer, video artist, essayist, teacher and short story writer. He is from Vaudreuil-Dorion, Quebec, Canada, and has compiled a book called Family Portraits. An author's statement and short review of this book follow below.

If you are interested in reading this wonderful book, you may contact him at

You may also view the photos that inspired my interest in this book by checking him out on - artist search “Richard Stanford”.


Pat Purdy


Soon these homes won’t be there. In fact, many of them are already gone, now only rubble or a hole in the ground marking the spot. That makes me very sad. In a way these homes are symbols of the dispossessed. I’d like to post these photos next to an advertisement for a $10 million condo in the Globe & Mail real estate section. Of course, that would be considered too political, wouldn’t it?

It is because of this that my dear wife has called my camera, “the camera of doom” which is why she has forbidden me from photographing our home.

The stories are about wanderers – some who wander around their city or around the world, others who wander through the vastness of their minds. If there is one thing they have in common (and that is a very big ‘if’) it is that no matter how far away you go, you truly cannot go home again.

Richard Stanford

26 June 2009

Family Portraits

By Richard Stanford

Reviewed by Pat Purdy

What a captivating read. I met Richard, a photographer, through his art. His photographs intrigued me - old deserted buildings with captions that seemed humorous, lively and intriguing. As I continued to view his work, I wondered what had precipitated the idea behind these photographs of abandoned, dilapated buildings ”homes?” with the odd titles. Buildings we often stumble upon, drive-by and if we take the time, wonder about.

Family Portraits, his book, is a fabulous read - a multi-leveled family history that incorporates and slowly paves the way through the complexities and intricacies of family life. A family history traced through postcards, photographs and circumstance. The story is broken down in a series of “chapters” or “stories within a story” that build a family portrait. All was not as tranquil as it seemed - so many layers, like layers of paint in the old jail-turned-museum. A family history evolves and revelation that perhaps things were not just so. A young girl, “Rachel”, abandons her child and his cultural history, a crime spree, a ghost, a young traveler's journey in Italy, a chance meeting with an “enfant sauvage” and the traveler's reconnection with his father and past, an antique postcard found within an original Zola novel, La BĂȘte Humaine, twin sisters and a very good friend, B.

An intriguing deliciously woven tale - why, where do the photographs of the old homes come into this story? - the why slowly evolves. Homes, buildings, part of the family journey - they all hold a past, capture a part, rekindle a story of their occupants' lives. A woman frozen in time behind a window of a school building - these old abandoned buildings hold the secrets to our lives.

Is a life ever what it seems? We leave so many traces, clues for the artist, photographer and journalist to uncover.

Pat Purdy


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