Documenting ‘What Once Was’

Jun 21, 2014
Photo by: Lisa Tyson Ennis Lisa Tyson Ennis documents and celebrates a fast-disappearing practice in “Fishing Weir Study IX Campobello.”

Searsport — “What Once Was — Our Changing Fisheries,” a show of photography by Lisa Tyson Ennis, will open Saturday, June 28, with a 4 to 6 p.m. reception in the Main Street Gallery of Penobscot Marine Museum, 40 East Main St./Route 1.

Ennis takes photographs the old-fashioned way with medium and large format cameras, black and white film and long exposures, and she handprints her images one by one in a traditional wet darkroom. The subjects that intrigue her also are old-fashioned and disappearing. Her exhibit at Penobscot Marine Museum documents a pre-industrial way of making a living from the sea that is nearly extinct.

Ennis lives in Lubec and is fascinated by weir fishing, a sustainable way of herring fishing that used to be practiced in Maine and is now only found in the Maritimes. She travels the coast and photographs weirs when she finds them, hoping to make a final record of these historic weirs before they disappear entirely.  She also visits and photographs remote fishing communities in Newfoundland that can only be reached by boat. Many of these remote communities are abandoned, having been “re-settled” by the government when cod fishing declined.

Ennis’ photographs are in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; The Tides Institute in Eastport; the Delaware Art Museum; and Portland Museum of Art. “What Once Was” will run through July 29. PMM is open Mondays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. through Oct. 19.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or

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