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Hamilton by Joseph Hartman

Hartman_ Hamilton From Above Sherman Access_2012

“Hamilton” is photographer Joseph Hartman‘s largest body of work to date; it spans seven years and includes more than 40 photographs captured with a 4 x 5 view camera on colour film. Hamilton, a city best known for its steel industry, a town I grew up in, is now in a state of transition as heavy industry slowly leaves.

Hartman_Canada Street Hamilton_2010

Hartman overlooks the factories and smoke-laden skyline that have represented the city for decades and instead documents a cross-section of Hamilton’s working class neighbourhoods and the surrounding landscape. He focuses on the city’s east end, drawn in by the “gritty personality” of the people and buildings of the area.

Although his photographs concentrate on Hamilton, his images depict remnants familiar to any North American city affected by globalization. For generations, families could rely on steady work and fair wages producing many of the staples and trappings that we have come to enjoy in a successful society. The pursuit of wider profit margins and the lessening of tariff restrictions caused the majority of these jobs to be located elsewhere.


The subsequent erosion of stability for these middle class workers is made evident by desolate downtown streets and the increase of low end stores. Their resilient citizens wait poised for another rebirth while their surroundings continue to bear the marks of their recent hardships. Hartman’s photographs serve as a reminder of what remains, and offer a glimpse of promise.

Hamilton From Above Sherman Access, 2012
© Joseph Hartman / Courtesy of Stephen Bulger Gallery

Canada Street, Hamilton, 2010
© Joseph Hartman / Courtesy of Stephen Bulger Gallery

Gage Park, Hamilton, 2008
© Joseph Hartman / Courtesy of Stephen Bulger Gallery

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