Ottawa Colourized Vernissage Launch Party: Speech & Pics

Photo by Jake Morrison. 

Ottawa Colourized vernissage at Irene's Pub runs to Dec. 31. 

My Launch Party Speech: 

First of all, I want to thank you all for coming out. My name’s Ashley Newall, and the art you’re seeing on the walls is the result of seven years of working with historical images.

Photo by Jake Morrison. 

I’ll start with a little background as to where this is all coming from...

Music was my 'hobby' & when it became my job I needed a new hobby. I started studying Ontario history in 2015, & was immediately drawn to the imagery side if things, along with uncovering - & then sharing - previously unknown, or otherwise forgotten stories.

Some people wonder if this is my job: it is not. As a singer-songwriter & recording artist, I lost a lot of money. In this venture thus far, I may possibly have broken even. I work in the gig economy, and post-covid I’ve been bouncing from gig to gig, for instance postering last month, and gift-wrapping this month. As a working musician, I do play Top-40 covers gigs regularly in pubs around town.

Photo by Curtis Perry. 

(By the way, I’ve staged about 5 CD release shows in my time, & I’m finding this to be very similar – the only difference really is that instead of 15 or so songs, it’s 15 or so art pieces.)

Back to the money aspect, and we have the City of Ottawa to thank, for a heritage grant I received earlier this year in support of this project you’re seeing today, plus for my related apt613 column. And of course thanks to Awesome Ottawa, who recently awarded me $1000 in support of this vernissage.

Going way back in time, I had a great history teacher in high school who considered history a creative art, & open to interpretation. He had several catch phrases, including, “If you don't know it, make it up.” This is a new art form, as a result of technology (yes, these colourizations are all done digitally), but while you’ve all seen this stuff online, I’m going to bet that I’m among the first to frame high res. colourized prints such as these for sale.

Photo by Jake Morrison. 

This is a very different kind of art show, at least to me. It’s one both involving research & curation, as well as photo editing. It could be called “historical art,” or “research-nerd art,” or something like that. I think technically we could call it “colourized historical photo art.”

Let me talk about my process for a sec. No, I'm not going to give up the magic trick, but there's much more to my particular art form than meets the eye.

All these images have been searched out of my own curiosity about Ottawa history. One example would be the photo of the train tracks leading up the Rideau Canal to Union Station – as a rail nut, or “rail head,” I always wondered what that whole scene looked like when it was a working train station. That's the first layer, beyond identifying the best online archives to get quality images from, of which Library & Archives in Ottawa is but one.

Photo by Curtis Perry. 

Then there's curating which images would be suitable for colourization, & also the best composed & most interesting.

Then comes all the working of the images on computer. Generally speaking, most of the images in this vernissage have been worked and tweaked over the course of two years, & multiple versions in their evolution exist of each. So it's a long, drawn out process, & kind of like taking songs from ‘demo’ form to what you see here – a produced 'album.'

And then there’s the road-testing: All of the pieces you’re seeing have been ‘road tested,’ first on Twitter, and then at my Byward Market stand this past summer.

Photo by Curtis Perry. 

Circling back to the core curiosity that has driven this project, relatively I’m interested in uncovering previously untold stories: When you read the display cards you'll see that most of these pieces come with such stories I've written in the last year & ½ for Ottawa’s award-winning local arts & culture blog, Apartment613.

In closing, I’d like to thank both apt613 & Irene’s for their incredible support of this project.

Please do let me know if you have any questions, I’m here all night and would be happy to chat with you some more about the works or the stories behind them. Enjoy the evening and thank you all for coming out!

Photo by Jake Morrison. 

Ordering: Any orders can be placed with the bartender, or by email (to me) for pick-up at the bar – you can check out my Selections & Prices list for options (& contact info).

Update: I’ll be opening my Byward Market stand at Irene's again on Sat., Dec. 17, from 4-7pm.

A Couple More Pics: 

Photo by Curtis Perry. 

Photo by Curtis Perry. 

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