An example of some of Claire Paradis’ work during her showing called “My (ut)opia

Up close with nature and Claire Paradis

Residents of the valley had a chance to view Paradis' work at the Hidden Garden Gallery in New Denver.

Getting up close and personal with nature right now is easy if you’re living in New Denver.

From Sept. 5-11 the Hidden Garden Gallery will be featuring the work of Nakusp photographer Claire Paradis in a showing called “My (ut)opia”.

On Sept. 8, a reception was held at the gallery, giving residents of Nakusp, New Denver, and the surrounding areas a chance to see Paradis’ work up close.

Most of the prints are nature-themed, including prints of geese in the snow, a bee getting honey from a flower, a lily pad, and a poppy.

Something unique about the photos is they’re all close up shots, and the inspiration behind the close ups is a personal one for Paradis.

She was born with an impairment that made it difficult for her to see very well. When she was a child, she found it difficult to recognize a face that was four feet from her. She said this affected how she approached the world and perceived things.

“I started recognizing the way people moved, that’s how I identified them,” she said. “I recognized that that was probably part of the motivation of being so fascinated for being right up close to something, and seeing what could have been a limitation as being an adaptation, something where you can take it and run with it, and have it be this extremely fertile creative field.”

Paradis recalls when she worked for Arrow Lakes News, she would wander around with a camera a lot, taking photos of things that she liked, realizing the more photos she took, the more she was really drawn into the extreme close up. She found it fascinating.

Her photos are not solely of the nature variety, but a product of their environment.

“When I lived in cities, it was the nature of the beast that it (her photos) would be about cities,” she said. “I would take extreme close ups of pavement, or gasoline on the ground, or whatever it was. It’s just the environment that I’m in.”

Some of Paradis’ shots have an almost extraterrestrial feel to them. They don’t look like anything you would find in this world.

One such photo is “Feed me Seamore”, the title of which is drawn from the cult classic film and musical Little Shop of Horrors.

“I was at the seaside, and there was an anemone that had just eaten something, and it was like “Come on, it’s Audrey,” Paradis said. “The colours are green and bright pink, and it’s absolutely, totally digesting this thing, and I just thought if you make it big, it’s totally Audrey.”

Many at the reception were thoroughly impressed with what they saw.

“I think the photography is exquisite,” said River Fantuz. “When you look at the images, they really catch your eye and make you want to look for a long time and find more behind, instead of a picture.”