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World-class photographer staging multi-media show

Published on

Cathy Dobson

Local photojournalist Larry Towell was imbedded with Ukrainian troops on the front lines this winter.

“The Ukrainian army had so little, I helped them get gasoline,” said the 62-year-old photojournalist, whose home base is a 75-acre farm in Lambton County.

From the sweatshops of Bangladesh to the gang activity dogging migrants on the southern Mexican border, Towell has travelled the world to photograph, video and record sound in the field.

Photographer Larry Towell's upcoming show called Hot Food Free features this photo of a girl playing guitar in Rochester New York.
Photographer Larry Towell’s upcoming show called Hot Food Free features this photo of a girl playing guitar in Rochester New York.

“I go to extreme areas,” he said. “I try to give people who are struggling a voice. I mostly look at the strength of the human spirit to rise above.

“My work is not mainstream, it’s experimental, combining all these media with a certain amount of improvisation.”

Towell is a world-class photographer published in a long list of publications including LIFE, The New York Times, Esquire and Rolling Stone. He’s the only Canadian member of the prestigious photo agency Magnum and he has published 13 books.

The books reflect his experiences in places such as El Salvador, Palestine, Afghanistan, and New Orleans following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

He has 35 international awards for photojournalism, filmmaking and photo books.

And he’s managed to do all that while staying rooted to Lambton County.

“This is home to me,” he said. “When I began as a photojournalist, all my friends said to move to Paris, New York or London, England.  But I think the hard work it takes to do well can happen anywhere, especially these days.

“What I do is in my DNA. Art is between me and the blank page. Besides, I have an agency with offices in the city.”

Every two to three years Towell stages a multi-media show to voice his frustrations and joys, he said.

His newest live performance is called Hot Food Free and is an evening of ballads and pictures. Towell is also a musician, songwriter and poet.

“It’s something I do on my own, and is a collage of video and audio elements from my travels,” he said.

TheStory on Christina Street is hosting Hot Food Free.

Spokesman Nathan Colquhoun said the intimate setting is ideal for a Towell show.

“I think it’s amazing that Larry comes from Lambton County and tackles world issues with his art and songs,” he said.

“We’re glad we can provide a venue so people in Sarnia can see what he does.”

Towell is also presenting the show in Toronto and London, England.


WHAT: Hot Food Free, a multi-media presentation by Larry Towell

WHERE: TheStory, 179 Christina St. North

WHEN: Saturday, June 18 at 8 p.m.

TICKETS: $10 advance, available at
 or $15 at the door.

The Arts Journal reflects Sarnia’s cultural life. If you have a story idea, contact Cathy Dobson at [email protected] or 226-932-0985. 

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