Photographer explores ‘Invisible City’ of Surrey for SAG exhibit

SURREY – Five screens on a lobby wall of Surrey Art Gallery offer a "Journey through the Invisible City," the subtitle of Tony Westman’s new exhibit there.


The montage includes more than 75 digital photographs of Surrey on three screens, with text on two computer displays. The city’s people, parades, development, car lots, farming and other scenes are showcased in "Becoming Surrey," which opened Saturday (May 23) and can be viewed until February.


Westman, who lives and teaches in Vancouver, said he spent six or seven months photographing Surrey for the exhibit, which aims to "invite the viewer to journey with Surrey through its various manifestations as it searches for identity, direction and, ultimately, a sense of place."


With the set of supplied headphones, viewers can hear Claude Debussy’s "Clair de Lune" as Westman’s vivid images roll by.


"I wasn’t going to put a soundtrack to it, because it seemed like a silly thing to do," the photographer told the Now, "but this music is just so lovely, so lyrical, pastoral, so if one wants to talk about origins, beginnings, this is it."


Westman is the guest speaker at Surrey Art Gallery Association’s next Thursday Artist


Talk, on June 4 starting at 7:30 p.m. In conversation, Westman’s passion for urban planning bubbles over, and he credits author Italo Calvino’s 1972 book "Invisible Cities" as a source of inspiration for his exhibit at SAG.


"Surrey is a fascinating place," he said, "and there’s so much potential here. Why I voiced this, to articulate something of a reference point, is to get those who have their hands on the power levers to understand the implications of every decision they make."


Surrey Art Gallery is located at 13750 88th Ave. For details, visit

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