ethan murphy

where the light shines first


Where the Light Shines First is an ongoing series that focuses on the renegotiation of my relationship to Newfoundland’s rural environment. As a young person growing up in St. John’s, I felt the limitations of living in an isolated environment and was eager to leave after the death of my father. I saw little opportunity for myself and left to study photography at Ryerson University in Toronto. Once living in a congested city I was confronted with an urban form of isolation, being surrounded by millions and feeling disconnected. I felt that I had lost part of my cultural identity and whenever I return to Newfoundland I feel as though I am a visiter, although I still consider it home. I began to realize how strongly I identify with Newfoundland culture and its rural lifestyle. Each time I return I use the camera as a means to reconnect with what I left behind while documenting the Newfoundland landscape post cod moratorium.


This work begins in Bell Island, Newfoundland where my father lived until he was ten. I became interested in the relationship between memory and place, moving throughout Bell Island wondering whether or not my father once stood where I stood. This ongoing project looks back at influences and places of significance that helped shape my perspective today. It is a return to my roots, observing them in a new light, one that seems much brighter and more optimistic.


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