For a long time now I have wanted to photograph the dioramas of the Royal British Columbia Museum (RBCM). The desire was twofold: I had been to the RBCM when I was ten years old, and the experience always stayed with me. The other was in homage to one of my favourite photographers, Hiroshi Sugimoto, who had photographed the dioramas of the Natural History Museum, in New York City.
The RBCM, in Victoria, BC, is the province’s premiere museum for natural and human history. The depth of detail, artistry and craftsmanship that goes into creating the dioramas, trompe l’oeil background paintings, and all of the life size examples of historical settings of the way of life in BC used to be in the late 19th and early 20th centuries are fantastic.
In making the photos for this series, I gained an ever greater respect for all the thought and detail that goes into making each of the scenes seem so lifelike, enabling the viewer to immerse themselves in the sights, smells, and sounds. I wanted to make photos that honoured all of the efforts made to create these scenes, while trying to elect the feeling of living worlds.
The final photograph in the series is another homage to Hiroshi Sugiomoto – a sort of meta homage – to his ‘Theatres’ series of movie cinema interiors. The interior of the ‘Majestic’ cinema in the RBCM plays Charlie Chaplin’s, ’The Gold Rush’ on a loop. This allowed me to make my own long-exposure of the interior of the cinema aided only by the light of the projector screen, and some small wall sconces.