Osheen Harruthoonyan

Location: NEW YORK
Nationality: Canadian
Biography: Based in New York, Osheen Harruthoonyan is a photographer who merges movement with themes of cultural heritage and renewal. Hand printed on gelatin silver paper, his limited-edition prints bring together images of the micro - the sun, Saturn,... MORE
Public Story
Copyright Osheen Harruthoonyan 2023
Updated Apr 2020
Location Richmond, BC
Topics Animals, Birds, Black and White, Canada, Conservation, Documentary, Environment, Essays, Film, Fine Art, Finn Slough, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Richmond, River, Spotlight, Still life, Travel, Trees, Vancouver, Wildlife
I grew up in Richmond, BC, Canada (designated a city in 1990), which encompasses a series of islands at the mouth of the Fraser River Delta, Lulu Island being the largest and most populated.

Originally these islands were temporary villages for the Coast Salish and Musqueam people, who would set up seasonal camps and villages to fish and collect berries. Later, European settles would cut, dyke, drain and clear the land for farming this fertile soil near the river lands. The late 1800’s would see an influx of Japanese fisherman followed by the Chinese Canadian railroad workers.

I have always lived next to the sea or the ocean. In Iran, where I was born, I have memories of holidays at the Caspian Sea. As refugees in Greece during the Iran-Iraq war, my family lived close to the Mediterranean Sea. In the late 1980s, when we immigrated to Richmond, we moved to the edge of the Georgia Strait, extending from the Pacific Ocean."¨Richmond was then a small town of mostly farmland surrounded by a system of dykes. My favorite memories growing up were catching minnows in ditches with friends, wandering the boggy marshes and foggy fields, and picking mushrooms surrounded by the patterns of codes and conduct from the varying species of birds and animals — gossiping, hunting, gathering. The last several decades have seen significant growth in population and development, drastically altering the landscape and atmosphere of the farmlands and marshes I grew up near. Wide open spaces are now strip malls, condos, offices, train stations and temples.

There was a blind spot between Lulu and the future, that space between identities where she could get lost forever. "¨

Lulu no longer greets you at the door. The ponds and ditches are gone. Townhouses cover train tracks that once scarred parts of the city. Neighborhoods have given away to giant unwelcoming mansions, standing shoulder to shoulder — neighbors competing for the most tropical trees in Canada. The first progressive step for a mind overwhelmed by the strangeness of things is to take refuge on the edges of town, to find some common denominator between the landscape and this dream that loosens like a bad tooth.

Along these edges, on the dykes, there is in silence, just the eyes of animals, the flight of birds and the great slow gestures of trees. Snow geese dive. Planes break up the distant mountains fading into the sunsets like grey-blue giants in a mirage. The water rises and falls in the old Finnish village, sitting on its stilts, holding on as long as the town will have it.

A skinny coyote walks through the frozen wetland on River Road. I follow him, watching his careful steps. There is only the moment, and that is where he prefers to be.
LinkedIn Icon Facebook Icon Twitter Icon

Also by Osheen Harruthoonyan —


A Circle of Bluebirds

Osheen Harruthoonyan

A walk around our block in PLG, Brooklyn

Osheen Harruthoonyan / Brooklyn
Lulu by Osheen Harruthoonyan
Join us
For more access