Scaling Washington

Photographs by Colin Winterbottom

March 21, 2015–January 10, 2016

“Winterbottom smartly turns to time-lapse photography, packaged in a high-quality video format, to show how light travels through the cathedral’s stained-glass windows and across its neutral stone walls—a journey as slow as flowing lava and as mesmerizing as a kaleidoscope.”—Washington City Paper

Washington National Cathedral. Photo by Colin Winterbottom.

Scaling Washington, photographer Colin Winterbottom’s debut museum exhibition, features stunning large-scale images of the post-earthquake restoration of the Washington Monument and Washington National Cathedral. Winterbottom’s images highlight the technical insights shared by the engineers and architects central to the restorations, giving visitors new perspectives on these symbolic icons.

Over twenty years ago, Winterbottom began taking dramatic, highly textured photographs of Washington, D.C.’s many architectural masterpieces. Always determined to create imagery unlike any he’d seen before, he quickly recognized the power of scaffolding to provide up-close—and high altitude—access to these historic structures.

As sole photographer for restoration efforts at the Washington Monument and National Cathedral following the August 2011 earthquake that shook the nation’s capital, Winterbottom blends documentation with artistic expressions, crafting photographs that share his unusual access to remarkable, fleeting vantage points.

Composed in close proximity to generally inaccessible parts of these two landmarks, many of the photographs provide sensitive appreciation of their beauty and fragility. Surprisingly, they also transform scaffolding from an industrial workhorse to rhythmically compelling geometry that complements the historic structures they seem to engulf.

In Winterbottom’s own words: “I took very seriously my obligations to bring the viewer with me to those narrow, scaffolded platforms and show them what that was like. The series is a mix of fine art, documentary and technical photographs; I hope that chorus helps viewers experience these events on several levels.”


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Scaling Washington: Photographs by Colin Winterbottom
 is made possible by support from DAVIS ConstructionGrunley Construction Company, Inc.Universal Builders Supply Inc.Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc.; Whayne and Ursula Quin; Safway Services, LLCLorton Stone, LLC; and the Director’s Exhibition Fund.