Foreword by Ross King, New York Times bestselling author and winner of the Governor General's Award. There can be few places in the world where the visual impact of the landscape is as hauntingly
Foreword by Ross King, New York Times
bestselling author and winner of the Governor General's Award.
There can be few places in the world where the visual impact of the landscape is as hauntingly captivating as the Badlands of the Northern Great Plains. Encompassing Alberta, Saskatchewan, North Dakota and Montana, these amazing regions contain some of the most surreal and magical terrain you can imagine.
Renowned photographer and painter Ken Dalgarno first visited Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta "more or less out of curiosity," he writes. "But I was instantly struck by the mystical hoodoos, spires, and other mesmerizing geological wonders. It felt like I was walking amongst a geography of metaphors, or perhaps entering an archives where stories have been exiled."
"A treasure trove for dinosaur fossils and First Nations history, the Badlands," Ken continues, "are certainly a place where the past has invaded the present. Like finding a great writer, I wanted to read more. The result of my explorations is this photographic survey of the Badlands of the Northern Great Plains."
Covering eleven unique Badland regions this book provides a living photographic portrait of some of the most intriguing and least understood places on Earth — North America's mysterious Badlands. Below are the 11 regions:
- Avonlea Badlands Saskatchewan
- Big Muddy Badlands Saskatchewan
- Roche Percee Saskatchewan
- Killdeer Badlands Saskatchewan
- Dinosaur Provincial Park Alberta
- Cottonwood Trail Alberta
- Drumheller Alberta
- Red Rock Coulee Alberta
- Writing-On-Stone Provincial Park Alberta
- Theodore Roosevelt National Park North Dakota
- Makoshika State Park Montana
View Biographical note
is a visual artist and photographer from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. His artwork has been exhibited in numerous solo and group shows across western Canada and the United States. Dalgarno has received support for his work from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Saskatchewan Arts Board. His paintings are in private and public collections across Canada, Italy, South Africa, and the United States.
Dalgarno has been profiled in numerous magazines and print media including: GalleriesWest, Prairies North, Our Canada, Western Art Collector and the Edmonton Journal. He is represented by the Assiniboia Gallery in Regina, Saskatchewan.
View Introduction or preface
The badlands of southern Saskatchewan, Alberta, and the Northern Great Plains emphatically defy the clichés of the prairie landscape as unrelievedly flat, featureless, and everywhere sown with wheat. For six years I rode the school bus along Highway 39, past some of those endless vistas of wheat and sky. But a dozen miles southeast of Estevan, the highway dipped into the Souris Valley and the landscape dramatically changed. Not only did we pass through the man-made spill piles—the leftovers from the 1930s and 1940s, when electric shovels strip-mined coal and left these little sugarloafs behind—but a few miles to the west, and even more remarkable, were the hoodoos of Roche Percee. Slabs of wizened rock, spindly ochre archways, wonky pulpits of stone—they looked like the ruins of a lost civilization, or the efforts of a whimsical giant run amok with modelling clay. It was, and still is, a truly magical landscape.
With his sensitivity to the haunting and sometimes uncanny qualities of the prairies, Ken Dalgarno is the perfect photographer for these badlands. He captures what might be called "prairie baroque"—the ornate and sometimes fantastic geological and arboreal forms found in tucked-away corners of the plains. I first came to know him through his paintings and photographs of the Crooked Trees of Alticane, those looping trunks and writhing branches that seem to flout all botanical logic, and that he caught beautifully in their arrestingly improbable poses. His badlands series is the perfect continuation of these pictorial meditations on the eerie grace of this landscape.
Though relatively new to photography, Dalgarno uses sophisticated techniques to great effect. As a painter, he is a colourist with a vivid palette and boldly charged brush. Here, in his photographs, he prints on an aluminum substrate and blends several exposures to achieve a greater spectrum of colour. The result is an enhanced luminosity: the soaring blue skies, tawny flanks of cliff, and fiery sunsets leap out of the frames. The impact of the landscape—and of Dalgarno's photographic capture of it—is unde¬niable. His photograph "The Stone Angel," showing a boulder in the Big Muddy magnificently poised as if for take-off, recently won the Viewers? Choice Award at the Great Plains Art Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska.
We owe the name "badlands" to the French fur traders who supposedly called these entrancing moonscapes "mauvaises terres à traverser" (bad lands to cross). Regarded by the early settlers as economically unfeasible, some of them even became a "Devil's Playground" (as Butch Cassidy called the Big Muddy) for fugitive outlaws. But in a fitting turnabout, this other-worldly topography is now, as Dalgarno shows, a beautiful and important part of the visual heritage of the prairies.
View Review text
"Each picture in the book tells a story; each essay draws the reader in to experience the unique moments Delgarno has captured in image and word. The reader is left with a yearning to experience the landscape and the affects of nature's magic. . . Badlands
is for anyone appreciating awe inspiring landscapes."
— Moose Jaw Express
"Dalgarno's stunning photographs and descriptive writing capture the surreal and magical terrain of the Badlands of the Northern Great Plains."
— Prairie Books NOW
View Promotional headline
Saskatchewan Book Awards, First Book Award winner 2015
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For anyone who thinks Saskatchewan is just prairies, watch this. Painter Ken Dalgarno shares the secrets of the crooked trees and the Badlands.