First Experiments

We began to work on the rocks at Green Point in the past few days, starting to work things out in earnest.


As it turns out, we had a bit of a geological dilemma to work out before we even began testing ideas for the sculpture! There were some differences between various sources regarding the exact location of the Cambrian-Ordovician boundary at Green Point, so we had to figure it out for ourselves, just to be sure. While I am not overly concerned about being exactly on the mark all the way out on the wave-cut platform, I do want to make sure that our starting point on the cliff face is correct, and follow that layer as well as I can (seaweed and the odd fault in the rocks not withstanding).  After some work, we got it sussed out, and traced it out from the cliff as well, so we could position the trial pole properly for future reference.

Here’s John standing on the cliff face; his right hand is resting on the Boundary.


Saturday was a ideal day in many respects – enough wind on the rocks to give us quite a show, and to really test the construction methods and durability of the components of the work in less-than-perfect circumstances.



There were a number of things to fine-tune: testing different methods of building supports for the the sculpture, figuring out how many uprights will be needed … and crucially, how long it takes to move materials from the beach out onto the wave-cut platform to build the work.


No matter where I am working, or with what materials, beginning a new project always has this time of testing built into it, complete with false starts and digressions. Moments when everything you thought would work perfectly … Doesn’t. When you wind up wondering what on earth you were thinking, and if in fact you weren’t completely daft when you thought this was a good idea.


Happily (so far) those moments have been very few. Things went really well, and we are cautiously optimistic that the construction will go as planned, and actually be simpler than we initially thought! We’ve got ample in the way of supplies … so that’s not an issue. And it turns out that there’s a good supply of rock on the shore right where we are building that will provide excellent support material.


Monday was a long day on the rocks, but we got a lot accomplished, and had some lovely conversations with people as well.  A tour group came by in the late morning, and then from 1 – 3:30, there was a Parks Canada Interpreter with us at Green Point, and we had more visitors then too.

I managed to get a big stockpile of rocks moved, in preparation for building the sculpture in a couple of weeks …


We put up a few more test poles too, to try a variety of support methods, and to see how different base surfaces would impact our ability to get the uprights to stay up where we wanted them.


There’s still a lot to get sorted and fine tune (getting all the poles we will need in a stockpile and re-testing all the technology for the documentation are the next two jobs on the list!), but we have some time before the actual construction day, and lots of things to learn and do in between.

In the end, that’s what makes it all worthwhile: the process, the learning, the letting go. It’s never entirely as one plans – nor should it be.

Oftentimes, it’s the unexpected things that make it better than you ever anticipated.

Getting Settled in

We arrived in Woody Point to begin the Residency at Gros Morne Monday afternoon. It’s been a week of getting settled in the house that Parks Canada provides to the artists, setting up the studio, walking in the town and getting familiar with the town, and meeting some people.

Water Street, Woody Point

I am repeatedly struck by the beauty of this place. It’s got well under my skin already, and I don’t think I will ever forget just how special it is, or how lucky I am to be able to spend time here.


Have been blessed with vistas of glass-smooth water, mist, almost-daily visits of whales  (probably Minke) … Gulls wheeling and settling by turns, in search of a meal … Big crows, everywhere, pontificating from treetops, fence posts, roof tops … Goldfinches at the feeder outside the kitchen window; the most brilliant yellow plumage I have ever seen.

there’s a whale spout marked by a red circle, middle of the bay …

Just under a week here, and I am already so full.

The Tablelands
The Tablelands

Preparation and Anticipation

It’s been a very busy time.

Received some great news, which set life a-kilter and many things in motion (a bit like a juggler on a unicycle) …

I have been accepted into the Artist-In-Residence Program “Art in the Park” at Gros Morne National Park on the west coast of Newfoundland.

The project I am going to work on will be a site-specific installation at Green Point:


Green Point has been chosen as the Global stratotype representing the division between the Cambrian and Ordovician periods in geological history.

Geologists in their natural habitat, for scale.


 So, this spot on the planet holds a boundary, a division in time and history. Just like the strata shown in the images above, there are many layers to that story, different scales of time and history, differing notions of memory. Many ways to understand change, and the essentially ephemeral nature of all things.

These are some of the things I am going to be considering in my work during my stay.

A view of Green Point from  a seaward  vantage point at low tide
A view of Green Point from a seaward vantage point at low tide; lots of space to make work that interacts with the tide!
A closer view of Green Point; the division between the Cambrian and Ordovician periods is actually quite unremarkable in some ways … just two different layers of rock in the cliff (it’s just off-centre in the image, toward the right, where all the boulders are on the shore)

There is, in many ways, a very arbitrary quality to this division; other places on the planet record this same point in geological history. But it is here, this one place which was chosen to be the internationally recognized stratotype.  There’s food for thought there too … so many human-generated boundaries/divisions/separations have this same arbitrary quality. There’s power in choosing. Power in naming and defining. Power in distinguishing the sides of boundary, whether it is readily visible or not: we know what it means to draw the ‘line in the sand.’

These are things I will be considering too.

surf sunset

There’s a raw, vital beauty to the landscape there. It commands respect. It’s a place that can make a mere human feel quite insignificant.

I think those are important things to consider too.


And I know there will be many adventures over the weeks of my stay – and I will do my best to capture some of that journey here.