Shifting gears for a few days …

I spent a lovely three days out in Victoria BC this past week/end, working with my friend and collaborator Catherine Owen. This was a great time on many levels:

  • First, Catherine and I have been collaborating for several years, and so there is a subtle rhythm of understanding between us in relation to our work; we work in similar ways, share a great many of the same theoretical and philosophical concerns, so those aspects of working together are ‘understood’ in a sense – and we can just get on to the business of doing and making. It was deeply satisfying to discover that although we have been working on NEST in two (mostly) discrete bodies of work up to this point, we are captivated by the same issues and ideas overall, so that when we eventually begin bringing the two halves together, there will already be a solid and consistent framework in place. Very exciting to see how much has developed already – and how much more we can both do with this! So far: at least 50 MS pages, over 400 photographs, 50 drawings, 30 gel transfer prints (in progress), and several sculptures in the works. Not bad, so far.
  • Second, this little trip was a welcome change of context. I find it’s terribly important to get some physical distance from a project now and again. The separation in space and time allows for renewed vision, critical assessment, and the opportunity to return to the work at hand with fresh eyes and mind. I have been missing the Ocean greatly – being landlocked on the Prairie has that disadvantage! I found being out on the shore faced with that immensity again, and the powerful persistence of the tide and crashing waves allowed a clarity and simplicity of thought – a cleaning house, as it were.

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  • Third, it was really interesting to explore elements of the NEST project in a completely different environment. Finding and understanding nests here in Edmonton is one thing for me, based on many years here, my understanding and familiarity with the landscape and its details … but to be an active seeker in another urban space, with a completely different climate, was quite another. This was an excellent object-lesson in itself regarding the necessity of both patience and active seeing. We found only a few nests in our various jaunts, and although time limitations had a great deal to do with that, I cannot ignore the reality that I don’t know the land and its denizens out there as I do here. Tough to find things when you don’t really know where to look, beyond the obvious.

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We also had some adventures! Catherine had also arranged some work with photographer Paul Saturley, which resulted in a great shoot on China Beach … in the pouring rain. Of course. I was both pleased and honoured to be a part of that work – schlepper, umbrella and flash holder, and model tormentor.

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So, I’m back here – and back in the studio … and feeling excited and energized by the work at hand. Oh, and looking forward to spring. Just sayin’.

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