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Untitled (Gordon Auction)
auction, deterioration of economy, line, value,prairie economy, depopulation of rural Saskatchewan, fewer farmers, leaving the land, farming practices, farming for profit, farming as a way of life, farm auction, money changing hands, tradition of farming, documentary, documentation, land cultivation, black and white photography, documenting a changing landscape, documenting a changing way of life, lasting images of rural communities, Saskatchewan history, a farmer's perspective, photograph, change, recording change with photograph, black and white photograph, auction, farming, preserving images, rural communities, Saskatchewan history,

A farm auction, while a wonderful occasion to renew friendships and visit with members of the community, is also a sad or melancholy time that marks the end of and era, dream or life. The farmers depicted in this photograph, whose faces we do not see, are visually illustrating this  dichotomyDivision into two; especially, the division of a class into two subclasses opposed to each other by contradiction, as the division of day and night. (The Online Plain Text English Dictionary)  in their groupings, stances and body language. Observing their attire we can tell it is a cool day in spring or fall on the prairies. The modest clothing also suggests a way of life that requires hard work and is not economically prosperous.

The auctioneer’s attire and body language are in strong  contrastA large difference between two things. It is a technique often used to create a focal point.  to the farmers’ and we can actually see his sun-glassed face under his stylish hat. He is actively trying to engage a rather passive group of farmers. Money is changing hands as he collects their bids.

Many people in a community attend a local auction and it is interesting to note that only one person in this photograph is from a younger generation.  This could be an indication that the younger generation is leaving the land. It is also unusual that no women are present. While the auction draws a large crowd of men it also brings in many women who play a large role in work and life of farming communities.

As a farmer, Hume is experiencing first hand the deterioration of the prairie economy and the depopulation of the rural areas in Saskatchewan. The process is accelerating so quickly that soon there will be few farmers left to cultivate the land. He is documenting the people and the places in his environment to preserve some lasting images of the rural communities that were once vibrant in our Saskatchewan history.


additional resources Things to Think About
  • Hume is using his skills as a photographer to draw attention to a serious concern. Why do you think people are leaving the land? Could something be done to stop the trend? What could be done to make farming more profitable? Investigate farming practices and grain prices over the past hundred years to determine trends? How has the price of the product kept up with the cost of production and inflation?


Studio Activity
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  • Explore your school or community and photograph people doing what they usually do.
  • Document your particular time and place by arranging your images in a booklet.
  • Continue this project and research the changes that have occurred over a number of years.
  • Refer to past books to determine how things have altered over time.


Hume uses photography to draw attention to a serious concern in Untitled (Gordon Auction) from the Farm Auction Show.

  • Pick a theme of importance to you. This could be related to pollution, crime, deforestation, global warming, etc.

Body language

Explore body language and  lineA mark with length and direction(-s). An element of art which refers to the continuous mark made on some surface by a moving point. Types of line include: vertical, horizontal, diagonal, straight or ruled, curved, bent, angular, thin, thick or wide, interrupted (dotted, dashed, broken, etc.), blurred or fuzzy, controlled, freehand, parallel, hatching, meandering, and spiraling. Often it defines a space, and may create an outline or contour, define a silhouette; create patterns, or movement, and the illusion of mass or volume. It may be two-dimensional (as with pencil on paper) three-dimensional (as with wire) or implied (the edge of a shape or form). (  through drawing.

  • Choose a partner who will assume a pose while the other draws.
  • When finished, switch positions.
  • Do this a number of times.
  • Do a number of drawings and arrange them as a series, or let the drawings stand on their own.

Author unknown.  ‘Brent Hume.’  Saskatchewan Arts Board, undated.  Retrieved from the Internet on August 18. 2008 from:

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