CHRISTINE NORTON, who sees herself as a “humanist photographer,” which she explains is the taking of photos of people in everyday life and environments, sometimes offering social commentary through her images. (The objective is to capture the emotions of the people in the images.)
She has combined years of work in social development with her interest in photography to focus on documentary and mixed-media fine art photography.
Asked to explain the theme of her exhibition – After Basquiat: Fragmented Imagery/Mischievous Thoughts – Norton said: “I have chosen to adopt some aspects of the style of Jean-Michel Basquiat, a well-known and admired Haitian-American artist. He expressed himself through paintings with texts and scribbles, along with social commentary.
“That approach works for me currently, as I feel that still imagery alone is not enough to capture, thoughts, experiences, behaviours that I observe. I want to say something more than the still image is allowing me to say.
Commenting on the poster promoting the event, which reads – Beat Corruption, Stop the Poverty, The Rich Getting Richer and Poor People Only Getting Poorer, No Values? – she said: “Some may find this an example of a mischievous thought. As an artist, I think we are free to express a view. I have observed inequalities in communities. I read every day about corruption and self-interest by those entrusted with power to lead development. By creating a comment which appears like graffiti or writing on the wall, the viewer, like the passer-by, can think about it and decide whether or not they want to address it.”
Norton said the concept of the show is really about the experiences, observations and thoughts she has had since she returned to live in Trinidad, after spending 34 years abroad working with the UN in social development.
Retired now, she said: “I smile at our picong and relationships with each other. I notice small dynamics between men and women which have a broader global meaning such as gender equality and respect for women. I lament the growth of the city versus the neglect of villages.
“Basically my show is about the noise in my head. I share it for awareness, fun, engagement of the viewer.”
Norton was born into photography, as she was surrounded by her father’s work.
“I actually picked up a camera in my early 30s and ever since have been working on photography. I only began showing my work publicly after 2015 when I left my career at the UN simply because I had more time to dig deeply.”
One of her greatest mentors was her father, Noel Norton, who was one of TT’s finest photographers, but guidance also came through workshops by National Geographic and Nikon Mentors. Sebastian Belaustegui, documentary photographer; Robert Rodriguez Jr, landscape photographer; Raul Touzon, National Geographic and documentary photographer; and Arthur Meyerson, US colour photographer, have been her critics and teachers. She also loves the work of veteran artist Jackie Hinkson and American photographer Steve McCurry, among other great artists.
She has had her work published by National Geographic Traveller (UK), The Circle Arts (France), Dodho Online Magazine (USA) and UNICEF.
She is also the winner of the 2018 and 2017 Art Society of TT Prize in Photography, a winner of the Prix de la Photographie, Paris (PX3) Gold – People’s Choice Award – First Prize – Culture, 2015; PX3 Silver in the Book Series (Documentary), 2011; PX3 Bronze in the category in Press Nature Environmental, 2011.
The PX3 is a photography award that strives to promote appreciation of photography, discover emerging talent, and introduce photographers from around the world to the artistic community of Paris. It was founded in 2007, and has since become one of the most prestigious photography awards in Europe.
Norton also took part in the 2019 Clio Art Fair in New York City and made the final stage of the British Journal of Photography’s Portrait of Humanity Project this year.
She is carded to show her work from July to September at Anima Mundi exhibition in Venice, Italy.
Meanwhile, on this weekend’s exhibition, Norton said, “It my first self-managed show and as such it feels a little daunting. The fact that it’s experimental in nature adds to my interest in receiving feedback and honest critique, but I am looking forward to it as a personal challenge.”
She will exhibit 30 pieces at 101 Art Gallery, Newtown, Port of Spain, from today (6-8 pm), tomorrow (12-6 pm) and Saturday (10 am-2 pm).