A World Within: An Intimate Portrait of the Little Bow Hutterite Colony
2005, 120 pages
Published by Fitzhenry & Whiteside, Markham, Ontario
When he found out that the Little Bow Hutterite Colony in southern Alberta was to be flooded upon completion of a nearby dam, award-winning documentary photographer George Webber visited the inhabitants.
He hoped they would allow him to photograph them at work and at play, before their homes disappeared forever. Over the next four years Webber witnessed and photographed, gently and unobtrusively, the daily life in the colony and finally its abandonment. They welcomed him into their barns, gardens, kitchen, dining room, school, and - ultimately - their church. This mutual respect and affection is reflected in the remarkable photographs collected in A World Within.
The necessities of documentary photography are a good match for Webber’s photographic methods and sensibilities. He eschews the use of flash and prefers to work only with available light. Webber’s spare, unstaged compositions reflect the simple lifestyle of the colony. The speed of film he uses gives his images strong blacks and crisp whites, the grainy greys adding warmth to each image. The result is A World Within - an exquisite collection of black-and-white photographs, taken with an understanding, sensitivity, and spiritual connection that makes them exceptional.
A foreword on the history of Hutterites in Canada written by University of Alberta religion scholar David Goa, and a series of excerpts from Webber’s journals, provide cultural context for the images.
"George Webber’s deep affection for his subjects is evident in this documentary profile of the Little Bow Hutterite Colony in southern Alberta. The colony’s inhabitants react warmly to Webber as he photographs four years of their daily lives leading up to the abandonment of their land, which was flooded following the completion of a nearby dam. The foreword includes an extensive history of the Hutterites, and evocative excerpts from Webber’s journal reveal the profound personal impact the project had on him. The compilation is as spare as the photographs themselves, and this is most pronounced toward the end of the book. Just four eerie photos are testament to the final disappearance of the place."
-- Canadian Geographic
"A World Within is an intense personal project Webber undertook to document the simple lifestyle of the colony."
-- Photo Life, Quebec City
"George Webber's deep affection for his subjects is evident in this documentary profile of the Little Bow Hutterite Colony in southern Alberta. The colony's inhabitants react warmly to Webber...."
-- Canadian Geographic
-- Avenue magazine
"Webber's work is a remarkable, sensitive tribute to trust, to home and, in his own words, to 'the impermanence of life on the prairie.'"
"An exquisite portrayal of Hutterite life"
-- The Calgary Herald
"Photographer George Webber captures 'the heroic quality of simple lives.'"
"The pages turn by themselves."
-- Alberta Views
George Webber is an award winning Albertan photographer. His work reveals his deep fascination and affection for the people and the landscape of the Canadian West. Webber was born in the western Canadian town of Drumheller, Alberta, in 1952. Since the early 1980s he has photographed this region extensively. His photographs are included in museum collections the world over and have been published in numerous prestigious books and magazines. George lives in Calgary where he works as a freelance photographer and photgraphy instructor at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology.
In 2005 George was the only North American photographer to win an award for documentary photography in Seoul, South Korea. He has recently been awarded an Honourable Mention at the 2008 National Magazine Awards in the Words and Pictures category.
To find out more about George visit his website at www.georgewebber.ca.
NAC Item Number: B0020
First Nation Communities Read Selection 2010
International Contemporary Photography
The Digital Photography of Pedro Meyer
Poetry and Art of the British Isles