The Abstraction is Not the Reality

Photograph from the remote beach of Playa Zancudo in Costa Rica.
July 4 - 9, 2024, 12PM - 5PM Daily | Opening July 4, 5PM – 8PM
Tett Centre Gallery
Artist Peter Sramek

The Abstraction is Not the Reality: A Solo Exhibition featuring the Artwork of Peter Sramek.

Photographed on a beach in Costa Rica, this exhibition of prints on Japanese washi paper challenges the viewer to think about global plastic pollution and our human environmental footprint. Images of colourful abstract shapes turn out to be bits of plastic washed up on the beach. In contrast, the show includes images of ‘sand drawings’ made by the local crabs and snails, underscoring a natural creativity that occurs without our intervention.

Photographs from the remote beach of Playa Zancudo in Costa Rica aim to draw our attention to the way we humans see ourselves as separate from the natural world – more intelligent and creative than other lifeforms, creating greater awareness of our intrinsic connection to the natural world. Ocean waves form colourful patterns of plastic debris, while crabs and mollusks create patterns in the sand reminiscent of 20th century art. The invertebrate drawings remind us that our creativity is natural – not a sign of superiority. Our superficial perception of the image as benignly aesthetic mimics our tendency to distance our thinking about difficult issues. In North America in particular, concerns about waste often remain on an abstract level, separated from the global reality. We know we waste too much; use too much plastic; that it goes somewhere that is bad for the environment. We try to do better, telling ourselves there will be solutions. But when confronted with isolated beaches covered in broken pieces of the products we consume, the abstraction becomes very real. The enormity of the problem is far greater than our well-meaning concern.

The artist wishes to thank the Ontario Arts Council and the Ontario Government for their funding support.

All Ages | Free

*Two one-day workshops in folded and sewn paper bookbinding techniques (basic and intermediate) will be conducted in the gallery on Saturday, July 6th and Sunday, July 7th, by the artist during the exhibition. Information and registration at $90/workshop



About the Artist

Peter Sramek is a fine art photographer and book artist, living in South Frontenac. As professor in the Faculty of Art at OCAD University (now emeritus) he has taught photography, photo book design and hand bookbinding for many years. Exhibiting a wide range of conceptual interests, his diverse projects reflect a continuing exploration of how images can reflect our connections to history and place as well as to the natural world. His dedication to community practice led to his involvements in the formation of Gallery 44 Centre for Contemporary Photography in Toronto, the International Art Collaboration Network ( and now the Shibagau Creek Forest Farmstead Centre in Tamworth. ( The book, Modelling International Collaboration in Art Education (Intellect Books UK), comes out this month, available from and University of Chicago Press. His handmade book works are represented by Robert Wright Books, Tamworth.