The beauty of the Montreal Metro

Phil Coomes
Picture editor

image copyrightChris Forsyth

Last week I published a set of images of the New York subway system in the 1980s, each carriage encased in graffiti, each one a work of art. Today, it's the turn of the Montreal Metro system. Yet this is the modern version, high tech, gleaming metal, each station an architectural gem.

This is the work of Canadian architectural photographer Chris Forsyth who has been sharing his pictures on Instagram, looking to show how beautiful design is all around us.

"What I'm often looking for in an image is a dynamic, graphic scene with contrast of motion and stillness," says Forsyth.

"What draws me to the architecture in the metro system is its variety from station to station. I love the colours, the architectural styles and influences, and above all its very bold graphic appearance."

image copyrightChris Forsyth

Living and working in Montreal means Forsyth is well placed for the task at hand. Indeed, you could argue he is in one of the best places on earth as the Canadian city's subway is known for its modernist architecture, with each station on the original network - now nearly 50 years old - designed by a different architect.

Forsyth uses long exposures to blur the motion and to remove traces of people passing through the shot. Sometimes he combines frames to make one image that is devoid of life. He told me there are a few reasons why he keeps people out of frame.

"Firstly, when there are too many people, it takes the emphasis away from the architecture. As well, photographing in Quebec, laws prohibit me from taking photos of others in public without consent, so if they're clearly identifiable, it could be an issue. Shooting in the metro, I'd rather just avoid the disruption when possible."

So it's both for artistic reasons and to stay on the right side of the law. Whatever the reason, it makes for some beautiful pictures.

You can follow Chris Forsyth's images of the Montreal Metro using the hashtag #mtlmetroproject.

Here are a few images from the project.

image copyrightChris Forsyth
image captionA lone unidentifiable figure is seen at Jean-Talon station
image copyrightChris Forsyth
image captionBlank advertising boards add to the graphic quality of this picture at Laurier station
image copyrightChris Forsyth
image captionThe long exposure of the passing train ensure the frame is broken down to a few colours and graphic shapes
image copyrightChris Forsyth
image captionAt Assomption Station Forsyth focused on the lighting set back in the concrete ceiling
image copyrightChris Forsyth
image captionSome of the pictures look like sets for James Bond films
image copyrightChris Forsyth
image captionThe down escalator at De L'Eglise station on the Green Line of the Montreal Metro
image copyrightChris Forsyth
image captionOne of the few figures to appear in the work, seen here at Sherbrooke station

All photographs © Chris Forsyth. You can see more of his work on his website and Instagram feed.