Robert Burley is a well-respected Toronto photographer who has specialized in photographing architecture for over 20 years. In 2003 he explored 6 Downtown Toronto synagogues in the series Instruments of Faith. Burley says:
“These buildings are distinctly urban in character; their exteriors, which share limited space with the adjacent businesses and residences, embrace the street.
Like the buildings themselves, the sanctuaries are confined by the limited footprint of the structure, which accentuates height over elbowroom, encouraging the congregations to crowd together for services. These intimate one-room designs are steeped in the history of the communities which created them. Memories of founders and congregants are incorporated into furniture, light fixtures, wall tablets and built-ins. The resulting spaces, created as ‘instruments of faith’ to encourage spiritual life and community bonds, have a uniquely timeless quality.”
In Faith on Bloor he has created a beautiful photographic portfolio of places for spiritual learning or worship located on Bloor Street or nearby.
Some faiths symbolize their belief in splendid architectural extravagance or rituals of arcane significance. Still others remove indulgence and regard the inner body as the true temple. Here on Bloor many different faiths coexist as a sign of the great diversity in the area. They are a testament to humankind’s enduring need for spiritual nurture.
Burley has had many exhibitions and his work has been the subject of numerous books.
His photographs are collected internationally and can been found in the collections of the National Gallery of Canada, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal. The Canadian Centre for Architecture, and the Musee d’lysee in Switzerland. Burley was a featured artist in Le Mois de la Photo a Montreal (2009) and his work has been exhibited in Canada, the U.S. and abroad. Burley teaches at The School of Image Arts, Ryerson University and is currently serving as the Program Director of the Photography Studies Program. He is represented by the Stephen Bulger Gallery in Toronto: BULGERGALLERY.COM