When most people are willing to squish and maim with the bat of a swatter or the sole of a shoe, a local photographer has been aiming her lens at some of life’s smaller, and more delicate, creations.
Lisa Torrie wants to preserve a bug’s life through her photography. With a digital camera set to macro and a keen eye, she has been focussing close up on the side of insects we normally don’t see.
“When you look at them, some are cool and some are downright creepy,” said Torrie, who is a mother of two and works as a registered massage therapist when not aiming her camera. “But there is a beauty in everything. We’re so out of balance. No one thinks twice about squashing a bug, and with these photos I think there’s a potential to shift that a bit.”
Torrie is currently showing her photographic images of insects at Gallery Vertigo’s satellite gallery at the Kalamalka campus of Okanagan College.
Entitled Bugs, the exhibition features larger-than-life images: 16-by-20 as well as 18-by-24-inch prints of all kinds of creatures shot in Torrie’s backyard and other locations around the North Okanagan.
Curated by local artist Katie Brennan, who Torrie met when the two took a course together, the exhibition runs the gamut from images of slugs to butterflies to aphids with their offspring, measuring smaller than a baby fingernail, walking across a rose petal.
Torrie often juxtapositions her subjects with that of objects such as a fingernail or pencil to give an idea of size and scale to the human eye.
This can be seen with her photos of the praying mantis, measuring four fingers long, which actually posed for Torrie.
“It sat on my hand for the longest time and was patient enough for me to take a number of photos. You can even see the pupils of its eyes following me, almost alien like.”
Also alien-like is the jumping spider, with its multiple eyes.
“It looks like a Muppet, with tufts of fur that look soft,” observes Torrie. “You would never think about petting a spider, but this one actually looks approachable.”
Although she has always taken photos, Torrie really started examining the world below her feet after purchasing her first digital camera three years ago. The macro digital component on her camera allowed her to focus on objects just millimeters away, and the process of taking pictures then went from being a purely record-the-moment hobby to a life therapy.
“I now have three cameras,” laughed Torrie. “I take my camera everywhere all the time. I also love to focus on plants. I’ve even discovered that some plants have hair. It’s all so out of the ordinary. I definitely tend to shoot less of people now.”
This is the first solo exhibition for Torrie, who also dabbles in painting. Her natural talent comes genetically as her mother, Lorreen Norman Chambers, is an artist and painted a number of the murals that can be seen around Lumby.
“I find my photography is constructed more compositionally than my paintings. I’m trying to do different things with my paintings by taking a photo of them and printing the image on glass and other materials.”
Torrie has also self-published some earlier images into a book, entitled Therapy Thru a Lens, and hopes to publish a new book resulting from her Bugs exhibition.
Bugs is on view now to March 15 at Kalamalka Vertigo, located next to the main lecture theatre at the Kalamalka campus of Okanagan College. The gallery is open to the public during regular school hours.