Stewart A. Brown

About the Artist

Stewart A. Brown is, perhaps curiously, a pioneering scientist in the field of biochemistry. He is not, nor has he ever been, a practising artist. And yet his photograph Concentration (presented here on the ARTSask website), acquired by the Mendel Art Gallery in 1967, is not only a photograph rich with meaning but also clearly the product of an intelligent mind that finds joy in the patterns of life.

Brown, a Canadian of Irish descent, began his chemistry studies shortly after World War II. His specific interest in the field at the time was the area of biological chemistry known as biosynthesis - he was studying, among other things, how living creatures convert, process, and make use of environmental phenomena such as sunlight.

This must have made for easy entry into the photographic  mediumAny material and technique used to produce a work of art (paint, glass, clay, fibre, video, sound, etc.). It may also refer to the liquid with which powdered pigments are mixed to make paint. Note that the plural form of “medium” is “media.”  for Brown, accustomed as he was not only to chemical processes but also to considerations of light. After all, it would be several decades before  digitalA system of representing images or objects through numbers. These numbers can then be re-interpreted by another digital system to generate light and sound.  techniques would be used in photography.  For almost all of the 20th century, photography was still as much about mixing chemicals as it was about capturing light.

Through the 1950s and into the ‘60s, Brown conducted his research in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, having studied at Cambridge, and later left the prairies for an academic position at Trent University in Ontario. His early years in Saskatoon saw not only the foundations of his academic research, but also of his photographic practice, as he was involved with the Saskatoon Camera Club in various capacities.

Dr. Brown retired from research in 1993, and in 2006 was honoured by the Phytochemical Society of North America as a Pioneer of Phytochemical Research.  (Note:  phytochemistry is the field of chemical study concentrating on compounds extracted from edible plants, such as fruits.)


Canadian Heritage University of Regina Mackenzie Art Gallery Mendel Art Gallery Sask Learning