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Item Name: Photograph
Title: The Queen's Christmas Message
Maker: James Lisitza
Year: 1973
Country: Canadian
Materials: black and white photograph
Measurements: overall: 10.8 cm x 31 cm
ID Number: PC89.11
Legal Status: PERMANENT COLLECTION


Extended Label Info: This set of two photographs are framed together to show a panoramic view of a living room at Christmas, with a family gathered to watch the annual televised speech by the Queen. Taken in a humble house, the images record everyday details of the times, such as the stove pipe running through the room, a decorated tree next to the TV, and the good china on the coffee table. Lisitza’s work is included in a book, “Between Time and Place: Contemporary Saskatchewan Photography” (1989). In the book, essayist Dan Thorburn describes what was then the documentary aesthetic in photography as, “small format, black and white, realistic recording of people and events”. This use of B&W film and a portable, “small format” 35mm SLR to record events in the working person’s life may have been influenced in Canada by the strong social documentary tradition of John Grierson and the National Film Board. Another influence was undoubtably Robert Frank’s photo essay, “The Americans” (1955) which had changed the aesthetics of photography, giving value to the images of everyday life. James J. Lisitza (1947) was born in Caragana, Saskatchewan. In 1970, Lisitza and his wife, the photographer Sylvia Jonescu-Lisitza joined with a small cooperative of photographers known as The Group, to create production facilities and a supportive environment for photography in Saskatoon. Membership included such award-winning photographers as Sandra Semchuk. In 1973, this group incorporated into The Photographers Gallery (now part of PAVED arts). Facilities included a gallery, library, photo collection, and darkroom. The organization fostered photographic artwork production in Western Canada. In 1976, Lisitza exhibited his photographs with Dunlop Art Gallery in a solo exhibition entitled, “Elevators: A Personal Study. Photographs by James J. Lisitza” Later in life, Lisitza moved to Vancouver. His artwork is held in several public collections, including the National Gallery of Canada.