There's Nothing Like a Man in Uniform

by Chris Bryan

The following article was originally published in The Richmond Review, on Thursday, April 2002

A uniform can bestow a feeling of either power or powerlessness, depending on the person, the place, and the value a culture gives that uniform.

These are some of the issues that Vancouver artist Barrie Jones explores in his photographic show UNIFORMED: from Urban Heroes to McJobs, opening today at the Richmond Art Gallery.

Over the past 20 years, Jones has been fascinated with the uniformed figure as an emblem of popular culture and national identity (“Hockey Series”), as the expression of a certain sort of romantic, youthful quest (“Trans-Canada Bicyclists”), a celebration of admirable values like community service (“Workers Banners”), and as representations of various mundane, “hard-work” professions (“Windsor Workers”).

But this time, he turned his attention to Richmond.

In preparation for the exhibition, Jones was an artist-in-residence at the gallery and photographed numerous local residents in uniform for inclusion in the show.

The resulting images prompt an exploration of the types of uniforms and relationships to the individual and the relationship to power.

“This work tends to come down to the psychology of people,” Jones says. “What the uniform means in a psychological way for a person. A uniform can carry a certain type of authority.”

Jones received his degree in fine arts from the University of B.C. and his masters from York University.

He now teaches at UBC.

UNIFORMED: from Urban Heroes to McJobs opens tonight at 6 p.m.

The exhibit run to May 9.

Richmond Art Gallery is located at 7700 Minoru Gate.