Jack Chambers, The Dormer Tribute (undated serigraph, c. 1977). In the collection of Museum London in London, Ontario.
As I wrap up my dissertation writing on Jack Chambers, specifically on the role of fragmentation and allegorical indirection in his films, I have started to read Val Ambrose McInnes’s monograph To Rise with the Light, an account of the author’s relationship with Chambers during Chambers’ final decade, as he was dying of leukaemia. At the core of McInnes’s book is this work, a serigraph, process work, disavowed by the Chambers estate, but also arguably the apogee of the spiritual path of Chambers’ work. Its subject is drawn from the life of Henry Edward Dormer, a London man of noble extraction, admired for a saintly piousness, compassion, and self-denial, who died of typhoid fever in 1866 at age 22.
The figures were intended to be ‘filled in’, presumably (by the indicated colour cast) to take on the fragmentary figuration of Chambers’ silver paintings (which is to say, the figures would have photorealist qualities but that those qualities would run in fragments throughout the figure). That they remain as silhouettes is a suitable analogue for Chambers’ beliefs regarding the resonances of the past in the present, specifically, the resonance of human energies that fall over the land, that we pass through, a field of ghosts.