Home from Home

Home from Home: Larry Glawson and Tayler Buss

2 February – 14 April 2023

Our homes are potent places. They play a fundamental role in our survival not only giving us shelter but also a place to express ourselves freely. This selfhood is conveyed through our décor and other objects that hold meaning for us. If one has the good fortune to have a home and to also feel at home, being away from it can become a feat of coping with the longing to return. On the flipside, spending a great deal of time at home can give us cabin fever.

This exhibition shows photographs by Larry Glawson and Tayler Buss, two artists who have taken their domestic spaces as their subject, with very different outcomes. Familiar and strange, their images elegantly converse with each other, evoking revelations about perception, domesticity, and private life in that most intimate and intentional place, a home.

Home from Home (un chez-soi ailleurs que chez soi)

Nos foyers sont des endroits formidables. Ils sont essentiels à notre survie parce qu’ils nous fournissent non seulement un gîte mais aussi un lieu pour nous exprimer librement. Cette expression de soi se révèle dans notre décor et d’autres objets qui, pour nous, ont un sens. Si on a la chance d’avoir un foyer et aussi de s’y sentir chez soi, le fait d’en être éloigné peut nous faire languir du retour à la maison. Inversement, en passant beaucoup de temps chez soi, on ressent parfois l’angoisse du confinement.

Cette exposition rassemble des photographies de Larry Glawson et Tayler Buss, deux artistes qui ont choisi comme sujet leurs espaces domestiques avec des résultats très différents. À la fois familières et étranges, leurs images dialoguent entre elles avec élégance, évoquant des révélations sur la perception, la domesticité et la vie privée dans ce lieu particulièrement intime et intentionnel qu’est le foyer.

A closing event for this exhibition will take place on Thursday 6 April 2023, 6 – 8 pm, with remarks at 6.30 pm.

The artist talks will not be in-person but will be available online from the middle of March. A link will be posted here.

Artist information

Larry Glawson

Larry is an artist/photographer based in Winnipeg, Canada. He has been exhibiting locally, nationally and internationally since graduating from the University of Manitoba’s Lemoine Fitzgerald School of Art in 1982.

He holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Western Ontario and was a sessional instructor in photography from 1990 to 2012, mainly at the U of M with a 2 year stint at the U of Western in the fine arts department.

Glawson’s work over the last twenty-five years has been largely involved with queer identities, politics and aesthetics. In June 2008, a major exhibition of his home bodies series was presented in Winnipeg. 27xDoug, a retrospective exhibition curated by J. J. Kegan McFadden toured from Winnipeg to Montreal and Halifax from 2010 – 2011. His work is also included in the Plug In produced travelling exhibition My Winnipeg.

Glawson also has a long history with Winnipeg’s Artist Run Centre system. A founding member of Ace Art, Glawson has also served as board member and/or staff of Video Pool, Platform Centre and Martha Street Studio, aka Manitoba Printmakers Association. As of 2023 Glawson sees himself as happily retired.

Tayler Buss

Tayler Buss (she/her) is an artist working on Treaty 1 Territory in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Through mold-making, casting, and sculptural processes, her work explores themes of preservation and immortality. She has shown locally and nationally in galleries such as PLATFORM Centre (MB), aceartinc (MB), Art Mur (QB), and Art Museum at the University of Toronto (ON), and was a muralist for the WalltoWall Mural Festival in July 2020. She was the Manitoba winner for the 2021 BMO 1st Art! Competition in September 2021. Her most recent solo show, DogDogDog, was shown at La Maison des artistes visuels (MB) in November 2022. 

Exhibition Essay by hannah_g

Download as PDF.

There’s a book called A Journey Around my Room in which Xavier de Maistre takes us, object by object, around his room in Turin, which he happened to have been confined to for 42 days in 1794 for participating in an illegal duel. de Maistre’s musings on familiar surroundings are funny and thoughtful, demonstrating how our possessions and where we keep them relates to our sense of self. These places are usually our homes, which provide comfort and pleasure, a setting to be oneself in and to also convey this selfhood through décor and other objects that hold meaning for us. We accrue bits and pieces, and as time passes the structure of our home—be it a lean-to or mansion—takes on a certain feel. If one has the good fortune to have a home and to also feel at home, being away from it can become a feat of coping with the longing to return. On the flipside, spending a great deal of time there can give us cabin fever. Our homes are potent places.

People are generally curious about each other’s homes. We can flesh out our understanding of (and make amusing and sometimes unfounded assumptions about) someone by their aesthetic, as well as pick up ideas for our own places. This curiosity can establish a sense of shared humanity since our homes play such a fundamental role in our survival providing us with basic shelter, but also (ideally) a harbour in which to retreat from the world and express ourselves freely. When seen by another person our own perspective can shift. After someone has visited my apartment, I usually find myself staring at my belongings and décor. It’s as if the fresh noticings of my guests have temporarily transformed my belongings, and I see them as they are, free from my own associations.

In Home from Home domestic space is presented as familiar and peculiar. The exhibition is centred on photographs by Larry Glawson and Tayler Buss, two Winnipeg-based artists, who both photographed their homes (Glawson from the 1980s to the 2010s, Buss in 2021 during the Covid-19 pandemic) but with very different results. The images in Home from Home riff on each other, provoking humour, poignancy, and uncanniness. 

Glawson has taken his home as his subject for decades. Houses, apartments, the cottage, his partner Doug Melnyk (another local artist), and their extended families populate his work and show a tender, astute regard for the people and things that comprise his private life. He creates portraits of people, flowers, unmade beds, and views through doorways, which form a record of the everydayness of a home. The touch of disarray belies a lack of affectation—he has nothing to prove. 

The shift from private to even semi-public can be intriguing. There’s a change in how we relate to people and places outside our immediate personal sphere, even when the other location is just as familiar. The photos of Glawson’s family at the lake are slightly otherworldly, probably because they really are in a world outside of his domestic sphere. The photographs’ intimacy is centred on people rather than objects and interiors. There’s a kind of freedom specific to holiday time, which provides the pleasure of observing someone outside their usual setting, such as in Untitled (Jan at her cottage – 1) (1982, split toned silver print; 20.5 x 16.5 cm) where a woman wrapped in a towel was apparently photographed unawares on the prow of a boat. There’s something sweet about this image – the vacation atmosphere, its re-located domesticity. The image is the epitome of a holiday, and her relaxed, natural pose emphasizes her ease as well as the photographer’s. 

Perhaps the most striking portrait included in this exhibition is Untitled (Larry & Doug, Wallpaper) (1982, toned silver print 25.5 x 25.5 cm), a staged photograph of Glawson and Melnyk in the first home they lived in by themselves as a couple. This photo serves as a document of a household: a couple and their cat in a freshly wallpapered room. Thousands of couples have taken similar pictures of themselves. Objects are arranged on the mantlepiece and windowsills behind them, things collected individually and acquired together. The men do not smile, they look directly at the camera. There’s a little defiance in Melnyk’s insouciance and a little thunder in Glawson’s brow (although that could be because the photo was taken after a rather stressful bout of decorating). The image is reminiscent of a painting that British artist David Hockney made of his friends Celia Birtwell and Ossie Clark in their flat, Mr. and Mrs. Clark and Percy (1970-1). Hockney and the Clarke’s were fashionable artists in London and the portrait is as much about their coolness and the proximity of the city outside the open window, as it is about depicting a minimal domestic space that is dominated by texture (the rug, Percy the cat’s fur, the dress, the sitters’ hair). Glawson‘s photograph is also an important portrait of two local artists in their home. Theirs was taken at the beginning of the HIV/AIDS crisis, when cruel policies informed by prejudice were causing the lonely, frightening deaths of thousands of gay and bisexual men, MSM, and persons of colour, piling even more harm onto these groups of people. Glawson’s portrait has a steadfastness about it, a presence that will not be denied.

Taking photographs of domesticity has an interesting effect. The images become windows into the intimate elements of private life, allowing us to see how others live and draw comparisons, while also creating distance. The photo transforms living beings and inanimate objects into a two-dimensional record of time and light. Strange things can occur in the space between the thing portrayed and the photograph itself

One of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s particularly memorable observations that he noted in Philosophical Investigations was that if one repeats a word over and over it starts to lose its meaning and sound strange: we notice that the object is not the sound (the word) attributed to it. This dissociative effect came to mind when I first encountered the images Buss created in 2021. During the lockdowns, many of us spent more time at home than we ever had, blending work and domesticity, public and private, self and space, until our surroundings sometimes became familiar to the point of distortion. Buss photographed things around her home in a way that seems to express this dissolution and reconfiguring of everyday meaning.

Several of her photos are very funny, such as Gemstone (2021, inkjet print, 16” x 20”), which presents a stack of freezer-burned peas on a paper napkin. Many of us keep a bag of peas handy, they are an unremarkable part of our freezer’s landscape, but Buss interferes with this normality by removing their packaging and standing them upright rather than putting them in a pan of hot water on a stove. She transforms the icy peas into a time-based sculpture (the peas will defrost and its shape will change) that her photograph preserves (so to speak): this strange lumpy form will remain forever fixed in this image. The photograph’s title reimagines the peas into a clutch of gemstones, extracted from a cavernous place or exposed by splitting a geode; it’s like a child’s game, renaming something in order to transform it into what is desired. Adults often apply this re-naming game to more consequential things with cold cynicism. With Buss, there is a powerful inference about the effects of time: gems remain unchanged while almost everything else degrades, despite our efforts to preserve it. 

Buss uses repetition in fascinating ways. With Pillows (2021, Inkjet print, 16” x 17”), upon a bed five pillows without cases are fastened together by a black belt with a gold buckle, and this cuts them free from the human heads they were designed for, but not entirely from the body. The belt cinches the pillows into a waist, a fan, a storage hack, or a decoration, perhaps even a kinky pun on the ornately folded towels left on the beds in five-star hotels. It releases the objects from their intended or assumed use and invites our imaginations to further transform them.

Buss also creates repetition by copying and repeating fractions of the image within a photo. Our attention might initially be caught by their alluring formal qualities – color, light, shape – but is naturally followed by a curiosity about what one is actually looking at: is that the same egg yolk repeated in a plastic bag? Is that a stack of stools or one stool repeated? These dissociative stutters occur when something familiar becomes strange, provoking an ‘off’or uncanny feeling. The ‘offness’ also has an affinity with dreams: when people, objects, or places look different from the ones in real life, they are both themselves and something else (“it was my old house but not”). Buss’s backgrounds contribute to this effect. They are much less specific than Glawson’s, they are general domestic sets—a wooden floor, a white room, an unremarkable table cloth. As such, there is little to distract from what Buss wants us to examine. 

As with any rewarding dialogue, there are mutually enriching differences and similarities between Glawson and Buss’s photographs in this exhibition. The works elegantly converse, evoking revelations about perception, domesticity, and private life in that most intimate and intentional place, a home, home, home, home, home, home, home, home, home, home, home.

Skip to content