Purgatory

David Yarrow

Storytelling

“My plan was to build a set around an old Wild West railway line and go back 100 years. Perhaps we could then celebrate life on the final frontier with a photograph that could be printed large and benefit from the extraordinary resolution of modern-day cameras. I wanted a vignette with picturesque sentimentality.

The community of Durango, Colorado was so supportive of the plan that 80 extras were sourced with no difficulty and there was warm approval to build the set near the main ski area in the region; the wonderfully named Purgatory.

The challenge was to find compositional balance between all the extras and the wider contextual narrative. I was most reluctant to crop too much of the smoke plume as it gave such a sense of scale. The X factor prop at my disposal was the train and I wanted to celebrate its beauty and timelessness.

My leaning was also to very much play on the idea of scale. This was a time when humans were made to feel small, both by the grandeur of the untamed scenery and the scale of the challenges of life. I therefore set up this historical tableau with the intent of glorifying the steam train and the backdrop without necessarily deprioritising the cast. I didn’t see it as a one way or the other trade. Anyone there that day can very much see themselves.

It was a fun morning and the essence of participation art. I could not have done this without the help of the good folk in the San Juan mountains and they certainly dressed as directed.” – David Yarrow

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52 x 63 inches, Edition of 12
71 x 87 inches, Edition of 12

Signed and numbered by the artist

Archival pigment print, framed

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