Butedale and Talheo cannery villages

Florence Debeugny, born and raised in France, received her first professional camera at the age of 12 when she inherited her paternal grandfather’s camera at his death. Everyone around her expected her to take photos of people, but she favoured trees. As a young adult, she worked in a photo store near Paris during the week and took black and white photographs of old buildings and still plenty of trees, which she processed in a dark room at home. She also photographed artworks of sculptors. She immigrated to Canada in 1979 and left the camera for a while.

Based in Vancouver, British Columbia, on the traditional territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and Sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations since 1982, she established her Canadian life before reclaiming her passion for photography in the late ‘90s.

Immersed in reclaimed European architecture of past eras, Florence Debeugny consequently focuses her artistic practice on architectural photography to examine the changes taking place in British Columbia’s industrial environments where she documents abandoned or partially run-down structures before they disappear. Since 2000, her photo-documentary work has included the mining, fishing and forestry industries and addressed the issues of how quickly buildings, closed for economic reasons, disappear along with the elements of culture they encompass.

In the sound and slide installation At the Edge of Wilderness (a collaboration with soundscape composer Hildegard Westerkamp), the multi-media installations Almost Gone, Remains of Cannery Villages and Maillardville 100 ans et plus / Maillardville 100 years and beyond, and the full-length documentary Giants Leap / À pas de géants co-produced with filmmaker Lynsey Hamilton, her photographs were integrated with ambient sounds, video or interviews to explicitly convey the layers of human experience impacted by industrial and urban changes. For Almost Gone and Maillardville 100 years and beyond, the ambient sounds and interviews were her own recordings.

Her work raises questions of progress, architectural preservation, housing and culture.

She has also developed a photographic abstraction style as seen in the series Deterioration, ThroughPrecaution and Night Language. In industrial sites, she comes across shapes, lines and layers within the larger visual context which she studies closely, producing abstracted images, sometimes involving optical effects. Rather than digitally transforming the images, her artistic process focuses on careful composition while photographing, to deepen the way she observes her subjects.


All photographs, videos and soundtracks in this website are the intellectual
property of Florence Debeugny.

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© Florence Debeugny 2000-2023