Me, Talking about Things

I’ve been invited to speak on my work as part of the Visiting Artist series at MacEwan University.  My thanks to MacEwan for hosting me, and to Bruce Montcombroux for the kind invitation!

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Make:Believe, in four seasons

I’ll be discussing some of the ideas that have informed recent work, and (some) of the many questions I ponder in presenting work in various locales (galleries, ‘natural’ environments, domesticated landscapes), and how those works and spaces connect (or don’t).

Looking forward very much to hearing what the students have to say, and discussing their questions & ideas with them!

 

A thought …

… that I came across today. A quote, actually, from Martin Creed, that sums up some of the ideas that have been rolling around in my head for a while now.

On a more literal level, working some of this out through the creation of the original Boundary|Time|Surface installation in 2014, and in other ways in the work that arose from it and that is now on exhibition in Newfoundland.

At any rate, Creed said:

“I started thinking about the difficulty of drawing lines on a map, making country borders, which is exactly the same as drawing on a piece of paper. Any definite border is against nature and against life.”

Things bleed into one another; that is the reality of it all. Eventually, all the myriad ways of dividing up the world (and ourselves) break down and erode. The edges get fuzzy, or float away.

These compartments we build are convenient, but they are illusions.

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View from cliff top
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View facing the cliff at Green Point

Thanks Martin, I needed that today.

{SOURCE: “Martin Creed on Why Art Can’t Ignore the World around It” by Philomela Epps, https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-martin-creed-on-why-art-can-t-ignore-the-world-around-it}

Boundary|Time|Surface is Open!

It’s been very quiet here lately … and a bit frantic everywhere else in my life.

Just got back from a week in Newfoundland, installing Boundary|Time|Surface at the Discovery Centre Gallery in Gros Morne National Park! The exhibition will be up for the entire season – until early October 2016. If you have a chance to visit this magical place, please drop in, and let me know what you think!

It was lovely to be back in Woody Point. It’s a gorgeous spot on the planet, and the terrific people out there make it even better. The staff of Parks Canada and all the folks I’ve met in Woody Point and Rocky Harbour are part of what makes Gros Morne so special to me; it’s been more like a family reunion than going to work. Waking up to whales playing in Bonne Bay every morning didn’t hurt either!

It was a hectic, challenging, tiring week – but worth it to see this work up and complete in a way I’ve not had the opportunity to experience until now. It’s a very interesting process/experience, seeing the work all together for the first time; there’s always that element of wondering if what you’d envisioned would really make sense in the space, as an integrated series of pieces that speak to the viewer both individually and as a whole.

Here’s a (very short) video walk-thru of the exhibition (apologies for the slightly shaky footage – handheld on a phone isn’t ideal, I know):

And a few still images of the work as well:

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I wanted to take a moment to thank some people for their help in making this exhibition a reality …

John Waldron – my geological partner in life, the universe, and everything, scientific collaborator, resource person, and tech troubleshooter extraordinaire

Jennifer Galliott – artist, entrepreneur, and top notch exhibition install assistant (she makes a mean latte too!)

Rob Hingston – and Parks Canada for having faith in the project, and bringing the exhibition to the Discovery Centre

Bruce Gillam – for his assistance with the lighting, cabling, and making things the best they could be

It’s time to  regroup a bit, nurse my colossal jet lag and exhaustion – and start to get organized for the next round of work and travel … more on that in a bit.

Stone Boat

After my work stint in Gros Morne, I tagged along with my favourite geologist and one of his graduate students as they headed down the west coast of Newfoundland to do some research.

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Our first stop was a remarkable place called Boswarlos. Not much there in terms of population or amenities … but we were there for the rocks, and they were spectacular!

 

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While my companions were busy trying to figure out the structures in the cliff face, I spent some time exploring with my camera, and then turned my attention to making something on the beach.

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slightly crazy-making to try to figure some of this out …

 

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more amazing folds in the cliff face

 

I’d been thinking about the history of “The Rock” and it’s people a great deal since I arrived, and wanted to make something that addressed both the Newfoundlanders’ ongoing relationship to the land & sea, and my own feeble understanding of all that encompasses. Every time I have been out here, I have been struck more deeply by how rugged this place is – how tough one would have to be to make a go of it, what strength of spirit it must have taken to settle here, to stay on, to work on and with this land and the sea around it.  There’s nothing romantic about how difficult that must have been – and still is  – in many places here.

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remnants of a fishing cabin on the shore
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a boat ramp that’s seen some better days

So – A small tribute of sorts, I guess.

I am Prairie born and raised. I’ve lived in that flat(ish) landlocked part of the country most of my life. No sea, no tides, no mountains (within about a 4 hour drive).

So what does a Prairie Artist make to acknowledge how out of her element she is on “The Rock” – but how much she loves it there as well?

A Stone Boat.

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What else?

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Gros Morne 2.0

I had a great few days out in Gros Morne National Park!

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Rocky Harbour at sunset

It was wonderful to be back there – I hadn’t realized just how much I’d missed the place and the people. It was grand to see people we’d got to know, and visit the places that became our home-away-from-home for several weeks last year.

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The view from Green Point

There’s a raw, wild beauty to the landscape that captivated me the first time I saw it – and that hasn’t changed one bit. If anything, each visit deepens my appreciation of all the area has to offer.

I got a lot accomplished too – also a very good thing! This return trip had a purpose behind it beyond being blown away by all the beauty: I needed to shoot some more images and video to compliment the work I did during my residency last summer, and I also wanted to create some molds of bedding surfaces at Green Point.

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Yay for two part silicone putty!

Happily, the weather cooperated, and so did the cameras … and I’m very happy with the results from the old making too!

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A view of the town or Rocky Harbour from Lobster Cove Head

I’m really excited to dig through all the images and video and get editing … and get those molds back to the studio to play with them too! Soon enough.

Just a few more days, and I’m back on the Prairie … how quickly the time has passed!

 

 

Parrsboro

Well, I made it out to Nova Scotia!

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Gotta Love the scenery!
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… at least it’s green out here (I think?!)

The talk we presented at the Fundy Geological Museum on the Boundary|Time|Surface project went well, and we had a nice group of people in the audience. Good questions and discussion, which is always the best part … the feedback is so much more interesting than just being a ‘talking head’ yammering on about things. (At least it is for me!) My thanks to Tim Fedak, the Director at the Fundy, for organizing this event!

Had a lovely couple of days in Parrsboro, NS too!

It’s a place with a sense of humour ….

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We had a little time (not enough!) to explore the town, and meet some lovely people. It’s quite exciting to see what the creative community is doing there – and just how much is going on. Had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with Krista Wells and having a lovely poke around the Art Lab cooperative space that she and some other artists have set up on Main Street. DIY projects like this are really exciting, all the more so because they grow organically out of the community itself. I also had a lovely chat with Alan Johnson from Parrsboro Creative, another local initiative with offices just down for Art Lab on Main Street. Parrsboro Creative is tapping the energy and renewal that the arts can bring to communities everywhere, linking interested people to a wide range of learning opportunities, and spearheading an artist relocation program. This is a town that has it’s art on, big time.

Just down Main Street from Art Lab, we discovered these little gems:

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Where do those stairs lead? and what’s behind that door!? So much fun.
What to do with that little space between buildings??  magical doorways, of course!
What to do with that little space between buildings?? magical doorways, of course!
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A very sensible solution to hiding an empty lot!

We also had the good fortune to discover Main & Station/Nonesuch Cafe, a gorgeous space housed in a retrofitted heritage post office. Judith and Harvey have created a truly cross-disciplinary environment, with so much to offer: a cafe, bookstore, and gallery; a place to listen to learn through talks and workshops, residency opportunities … it’s quite amazing.

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This building is gorgeous, and Harvey & Judith have put some serious work into its restoration, and making it into a hub for creativity and education.

Parrsboro is also a deeply beautiful place; the Bay of Fundy was as breathtaking and powerful as ever.

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The view from the middle of town; Ship’s Company Theatre on the far right.
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Spectacular geology, that reveals the power of the tide at every turn.
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Nearly low tide; it’s amazing how fast all that water moves to fill the bay when the tide turns!

Have had a brief stop in Halifax … and next up is Newfoundland! Leaving tomorrow for Deer Lake, and from there to Gros Morne!

The adventure continues!

Upcoming Talk …. Art meets Geology!

Hallowe’en is coming up soon … so that means it’s a perfect time for …

… an artist’s talk!

I will be presenting a talk with John Waldron on October 31; we will be discussing   Boundary|Time|Surface, the project we worked on this summer in Gros Morne National Park. Details below …

Should be fun!

I’m really looking forward to this – it’s the first opportunity I’ve had to show images and video from the project locally.

Boundary|Time|Surface ATLAS TALK POSTER FINAL

 

Interview on Arts East

For those of you who might be interested in some of the story behind Boundary|Time|Surface, the sculptural installation I did this summer in Newfoundland:

I recently did an interview with Michelle Brunet from Arts East on the project and on my practice in more general terms. It’s just been posted on the Arts East blog, and you can find it HERE>.

I am working on pulling together a static page for this project, and if all goes well, it will see the light of day in the next few days. I’ll let you know when it’s live.

In the mean time – a few more images from Newfoundland, and Boundary|Time|Surface. I miss this magical place already.

Looking out from the shore at Green Point, June 22 2014. Image courtesy ME Cooke.
Looking out from the shore at Green Point, June 22 2014. Image courtesy ME Cooke.
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Boundary|Time|Surface, June 22 2014. Tide beginning to rise. Image Courtesy ME Cooke.
Sunset, June 22 2014 at Green Point.
Sunset, June 22 2014 at Green Point.

 

On the Road, and an interview …

It’s been a tremendous, and tremendously busy time the last couple of weeks. Said my (hopefully temporary) goodbyes to Gros Morne and the lovely people of Woody Point NL, spent a very fast couple of days in Halifax, and then was off to my next adventure – the Red Rabbit Intertidal Intensive – on the Bay of Fundy, at Thomas Cove.

Much more on that amazing experience shortly, in a future post.

Then back to Halifax for a couple of days … and now I am in the no-place that is the airport, waiting for my flight back west to Edmonton. It feels like a very long time since I’ve been in my Prairie home. I expect I will be dealing with a good bit of ‘culture shock’ for at least a few days after my landing; essentially, I have been living in rural/semi-wilderness environments for the last six weeks. Not looking forward to the noise and the traffic, and crossing the street as an extreme sport. It will be good to sleep in my own bed again, and wake up to those enormous Alberta skies again, though.

But in the mean time, I wanted to say one more “‘bye for now!” to Newfoundland, and pass on a nice little interview I did, that was just posted to Creative Gros Morne. IMG_6841 It was lovely to read Evie’s article – it brought me back to sitting in the Residency house and chatting with her, to what Bonne Bay looked like that morning … And to the head cold I had! I’m amazed Evangeline got anything coherent from me at all!  Still – good memories of a remarkable experience.

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One more time before I go …

I had an opportunity to get out to Green Point one last time to make some small works on Monday. It was a bittersweet thing; I was delighted to have the opportunity to work in that remarkable place again, but I was doing so fully aware that there are only a few days left here, and this was my last time on these rocks for quite a while.

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Still. The work took on a playful quality as the day progressed – I was reminded of being a kid and playing on the beach for hours – there were many ‘what if’ and ‘why not try’ moments. It was lovely to feel so unencumbered by the need for ‘results’. To be able to get lost in responding to the place and its physical character in a simple, childlike way.

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Part of that was the scale of these pieces: they are all small, hand-based gestures toward understanding the place in simple ways, intimate approaches to line and light and surface.

The photographs, however, can tell a very different story; the absence of many reference points for scale allows each piece a different kind of solidity, and different understandings of lines and borders and containment come into play.

It was a good day, and especially so because it left me with a great deal to think about.

I’ll miss this place.

Especially because the room to breathe and think is such an intrinsic part of all of it.