Chinese photo exhibit to display Yukon through lenses of Northern photographers

A new gallery exhibit at the China's Shanghai Camera History Museum has a distinct Northern flair — featuring the work of multiple photographers from Yukon.

Exhibit on northern lights opens at Shanghai Camera History Museum

Whitehorse photographer Mark Kelly shared a picture of northern lights taken at the Bove Island lookout on the South Klondike Highway south of Carcross. (Mark Kelly)

A new gallery exhibit at the China's Shanghai Camera History Museum has a distinct Northern flair — featuring the work of multiple photographers from Yukon.

The exhibit, titled "Looking up to the Aurora, Having a Taste of Yukon," features large-format photos from each of the photographers.

Dr. Xiu-Mei Zhang is one of the four Yukon photographers featured. She is originally from China and has lived in Whitehorse for 26 years.

She says photography is a recent hobby that began with a painful story — she began taking photos after her husband, Dr. Jim Zheng, suddenly died of a stroke in 2015.

"I suffered some PTSD and grief and insomnia. I couldn't sleep so I started taking my camera and shooting the moon, the clouds, the stars. Many landscapes and mostly at night," Dr. Zhang says. 

Dr.Xiu-Mei Zhang's work is part of the gallery. 'I'm feeling so honoured to be able to share the natural beauty of Yukon to my people back home," she says. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

One of Dr. Zhang's photos featured in the gallery show is a landscape shot featuring a person within an immense Yukon landscape. It was taken last August in Tombstone National Park.

"That was on (the first anniversary of my husband's death)," she said. "My two sons and I climbed in Tombstone because that was his favourite site. And he would always tell his patients, if they have stress or grief and you go to Tombstone, you can see the massive mountain and ancient rock, and in comparison your condition becomes insignificant," she says.

The gallery show features one of Dr. Zhang's photos, which shows a person in an immense Yukon landscape. (Dr.Xiu-Mei Zhang / Facebook)

Northern lights pictures 

Although some shots, as the title of the exhibit implies, feature the Aurora Borealis — a popular tourism draw for the territory — others, like Dr. Zhang's, are more varied in subject matter.

Whitehorse photographer Mark Kelly shared a photo of aurora at the Bove Island lookout on the South Klondike Highway, south of Carcross, while Dr. Ken Quong provided a photo of a cow moose walking across a pond during the sunrise at Two Moose Lake along the Dempster Highway.

Dr. Ken Quong of Whitehorse provided a photo of a cow moose walking across a pond during the sunrise at Two Moose Lake along the Dempster Highway. (Dr. Ken Quong )

The show is being facilitated by a Yukon tourism company, Yukon China Culture Exchange Services, which has an office in Whitehorse.

Dr. Quong says he's still a little curious about the exhibit, as he doesn't speak Mandarin Chinese and was unable to understand the submission documents.

"All the submission documents were in Chinese characters," he said. "I don't know what is about about other than to promote tourism in Yukon and it's a show in Shanghai. I do photography just for a hobby, so it's always fun to have your pictures travel." 

Another potential example of confusion caused by the language barrier is Jason Wolsky's submission, which was shot at Richtersveld National Park, in South Africa. 

Wolsky, who has lived in Whitehorse for 40 years, says he tried to explain the shot's location to organizers numerous times, but "they loved the shot.

"I am not sure why they wanted it," he said. "My understanding is the exhibit is about the Yukon, but they liked that shot of the night sky... So they wanted to include it," he says, with a laugh. 

However, Wolksy added that he thinks the show is a sign of a growing cultural exchange and worldwide interest in northern tourism. 

"It's great to see we're attracting nationalities from all over," he says. 

China is a growing market for Yukon tourism, which is seeing a particularly busy winter this year.


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