Our next Artist You Need To Know is Elaine Ling (1946-2016).

Ling was a traveler and photographer, whose camera acted as a documentary tool of her life and experiences. She was born in Hong Kong but emigrated to Canada when she was nine. The wide open spaces and impressive natural landscape of Canada impressed Ling from an early age, spurring her interest in both the monumental and awe inspiring natural formations that she often captured with her lens. She studied the piano, the cello and medicine, earning a medical degree from the University of Toronto. In that arena, she practiced family medicine among various First Nations peoples in Canada’s North and Pacific Northwest as well as on the other side of the world, in Abu Dhabi and Nepal.



“Seeking the solitude of deserts and abandoned architectures of ancient cultures, Elaine Ling…explored the shifting equilibrium between nature and the man-made across four continents. Photographing in the deserts of Mongolia, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Timbuktu, Namibia, North Africa, India, South America, Australia, American Southwest; the citadels of Ethiopia, San Agustin, Persepolis, Petra, Cappadocia, Machu Picchu, Angkor Wat, Great Zimbabwe, Abu Simbel; and the Buddhist centres of Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Tibet, and Bhutan; she has captured that dialogue.” (from here)




Her photographs are in the permanent collections of numerous museum and private collections. These include the Bibliothèque Nationale (Paris, France); Musée de la Photographie (Charleroi, Belgium); Fotografie Forum International (Frankfurt, Germany); Museet for Fotokunst (Odense, Denmark); Centro Portugues de Fotografia (Porto, Portugal); Scavi Scaligeri International Centre of Photography (Verona, Italy); Fototeca de Cuba (Havana, Cuba); Lishui Museum of Photography (Lishui City, China); Museum of Fine Arts (Houston, Texas); Brooklyn Museum (New York, United States); and the SE Museum of photography (Florida, United States).

Ling’s exhibition record is impressive: a full list can be seen here, but over four decades she had numerous solo shows, and participated in many group shows as well. She also garnered a number of awards. These include the Nautilus Silver Book Award (2011), Photographer of the Year, from Photo Lucida (2005), Golden Light Awards, landscape, Maine Photographic Workshops (2004) and many Ontario Arts Council (OAC) and Canada Council for the Arts (CC) grants (including from the Millennium Arts Fund, 1999).

A full accounting of Ling’s accomplishments can be seen here.



In Canada, Ling is in the collections of the National Gallery of Canada, Ryerson University, Art Gallery of Ontario and the Royal Ontario Museum. Renowned international publications that have featured her work include View Camera, Photo Technique International, The Polaroid Book, Italian Zoom Magazine, Orion Magazine, Viktor Magazine, BMJ and Aperture.

In addition to her voluminous photographic artwork Dr. Ling also was practicing family medicine in Toronto and played cello in Orchestra Toronto, a community orchestra. Ling was also a fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society.



Elaine Ling also published a series of books of her photographs:  Mongolia, Land of the Deer Stone (2009), Talking Stones (2015), Cuba Chronicles (2015) and Habitacion Cubana (2016)


On the first of August, 2016, Elain Ling lost her battle with lung cancer: her brother – Edward Pong – has indicated that he intends to continue to foster her legacy, through the maintenance of Ling’s site.

In recognition of her life and work, there is a special fund that has been created for The Art Gallery of Ontario Foundation, The Elaine Ling Fund for Women in Photography: it will be primarily directed toward the purchase of artwork by women photographers for the AGO’s  photography collection. More information on this endeavour can be found here.

Her site is an awe inspiring space with much more about Ling’s life and work – and many more of her moments from her life and around the world – that can be enjoyed here.