Photographer and Canadian Mosaic creator Tim Van Horn visited the North Thompson valley last week, as he continues his mission to create “the largest portrait ever created in Canadian history.”
For two days, the artist was in Blue River, taking shots of the locals taking a walk, shovelling the driveway or having a chat. The scenery was very much Blue River-esque, as the backdrop was a beautiful winter wonderland.
A couple days later, his giant RV was seen in the parking lot of the Clearwater Shoping Centre where he used the red wall of the Pharmasave building for his backdrop to photograph locals. Over the last week he was spotted in communities from Blue River all the way to Kamloops.
Van Horn said he spends about an hour or so asking passersby if he can take their photo, describing for them what he’s doing, before then taking a trip around the community looking for “signs of life,” such as a person shovelling the driveway, chopping wood or street cleaning.
While he’s had success with folks agreeing to photographs, he has faced rejection — it’s part of the gig. But, the rejection just pushes him to continue.
“Sometimes people aren’t that nice to you,” said Van Horn. “There’s definitely trying times but those are character-building moments and when you truly commit to something, then you’ll start to see really beautiful things happen.”
The project began in 2008 and said he has travelled over 67,000 kilometres, visited 1,400 communities, in every province and territory, and photographed roughly 80,000 Canadians in an effort to showcase the country’s cultural identity.
Van Horn has always had a camera in his hand. He remembers a photo taken of himself photographing his brother when he was 4 years old. Growing up in a military family meant he moved around a lot. He was born in Edmonton, Alta., and lived in Bermuda, Inuvik, N.W.T., and Haida Gwaii, B.C., all before the age of six — and it was the spark that led to his love for travel.
After years of travelling, the goal is to create a giant portrait of 100,000 photos, showcasing Canada’s “cultural identity,” he said, in a giant mural of photos, on top of a 40-foot bus, accompanied by music.
“What it is, is all these different life moments woven together into one visual,” said Van Horn. “It’s all about creating a visual that everyone can stand in front of…and blasts out this message about who we are and what life looks like.”