Digging in Again … B|T|S

Been a busy busy Autumn – two exhibitions. travel to Lethbridge & Nova Scotia, Board work with CARFAC and Copyright Visual Arts


… and now, I get to seriously “dig in” in the studio in the coming months, and revisit Boundary|Time|Surface! Very excited to be looking at this body of work again with fresh eyes, and to being to create new work for it, in anticipation of exhibition in the Fall of 2019 at the Art Gallery of St Albert.

I was also surfing through the EGU website today – the call for new abstracts for 2019 just hit my inbox.

This prompted the surf, and a bit of a walk on memory lane: John and I presented on Boundary|Time|Surface at the European Geosciences Union in Vienna a few years ago, and it was a wonderful experience.

In browsing the EGU site, I also came across this – a lovely blog post about the session convenor’s response to our project. It brought back the very lively discussions we had with so many people at our poster – about scientific discourse, about place and memory, about the ways in which human definitions and descriptions of things and places  can create (and erase!!) different kinds of understanding. Different ways of seeing.

Looking forward to investigating this gloriously complicated place and all my ideas about it.

Off to the studio!


Chaotic Bodies Opening Thursday Mar 8!

I am excited to be presenting a dance-infused project in Mile Zero Dance’s Spazio Gallery!

The multi-media installation Chaotic Bodies will be on view in the window gallery until April 8th, so stop by Mile Zero Dance and have a look. (after dark the work takes on a new life!)

If you are in the area, please join us for the Opening Reception for this work at Mile Zero’s Spazio Performativo on Thursday March 8, from 6:30 – 8:00pm, and stay for Dirt Buffet Cabaret, curated by Liam Cody.

Chaotic Bodies is a series of works derived from photographic and video documentation of RUCKUS, a work-in-progress choreographed by Anastasia Maywood, Krista Posnyiuk, and Alison Kause. My goal with Chaotic Bodies is to explore the visual echoes of my engagement with the dancers and the choreography, with their bodies in space, and their responses through movement to the sculptural work I created.

I would like to extend my deep thanks to Anastasia Maywood, Krista Posnyiuk, Alison Kause, Ainsley Hillyard, Kate Stashko, & Alida Kendell for welcoming me into their work on RUCKUS (past & future), and for their generous an insightful feedback as I worked with them to make the ideas specific to their creative process tangible. I am grateful also for their permission to use footage and stills from rehearsals and performances in the presentation of this project at Mile Zero Dance.

Helping to Create a RUCKUS!


I had the pleasure earlier this fall of working with Anastasia Maywood, Krista Posyniak, and Alison Kause (and a group of amazing dancers!) on a new dance work-in-progress called RUCKUS.


Anastasia has been given a residency by the Good Women Dance Collective in Edmonton to develop the work further, and has launched a GoFundMe Campaign to support the residency work, so that we can bring RUCKUS to life  as a more fully-developed work.


I am so excited by this collaborative process, and being able to create sculptural work specifically for people (dancers) to interact with has been both challenging and a whole lot of fun. What this work is teaching me about sculpture and space is invaluable, and I am working with some wonderful, intelligent and talented women in making this idea a reality.


If you would like to support this project, you can help Create a RUCKUS here!


IMAGE CREDIT: All Images,  Ernest at Studio E Photography

On Galleries, and other difficult spaces

And excellent essay from Riva Symko, Writer in Residence at Latitude 53 in Edmonton.
Rivals thoughts come at a particularly opportune moment, as I am heading to the CARFAC National conference and AGM in Montreal.
The problematic nature of the gallery-as-institution has direct implications for the ability of artists to have the opportunity to show work, to experiment, as Riva so eloquently discusses.
There’s also this … Who gets to show, where, and why also has direct economic implications on an umber of levels (including the ability of artists to earn a copyright-based licensing fee for the exhibition of their work in public galleries, artist-runs, and museums).
Much food for thought here …
carfac nat logo
 … and no doubt, much more to come over the next few days …

SubArctic Improv – coming soon!


I am really looking forward to participating in this month’s SubArctic Improv, which will happen on Thursday January 21st, starting at 8pm. This series is curated by two amazing women: Jen Mesch and Allison Balcetis. The lovely people at Mile Zero Dance host this series, and the Spazio Performativo is a beautiful and welcoming space to be working in. (all the details are in the links!)

This is a delightful opportunity for me – a moment to play a little, stretch my thinking, try things, be funny and fearless. I’ve long wanted the opportunity to make work for and with moving human bodies in space (dancers and movement specialists), and so when Jen kindly invited me to participate in SubArctic, I couldn’t say no.

This series harkens back to a project I had roughly a decade ago with the Edmonton Poetry Festival: a multidisciplinary jam called CORTEX, that I pulled together with Phil Jagger. I’ve always thought that the silos within which we create in the arts here were limiting, somewhat artificial divisions (not to say that cross-disciplinary work hasn’t become more prevalent in recent years, but this kind of work could happen more IMO). There’s so much to learn from other disciplines’  creative process and from the people who live in it. Working outside our respective comfort zones – making that leap into risk –  is always a great way to come at what we do with fresh eyes.

So – to that end – my contribution to this month’s Improv will feature unconventional (and interactive) materials, and provides a new and playful way for me to consider: light (and its absence), stars, hibernation, insulation (because, heck it’s Edmonton and January, and well … cold!), security, exposure … .

A nod to how fragile real safety is, perhaps; or a fun way to explore what it means to have the illusion of safety, and actually be really vulnerable. Riffing and punning on the idea of exposure, privacy, security, ‘nesting’, voyeurism, exhibitionism …….

All potentially heady/serious/intense stuff. And all very real concerns in the world – but here, for this moment, I wanted to flip all of that on its ear, and have a little FUN – be a little silly, inject some humour and play into the mix.

SO … here’s hoping that happens! (it’s improv, ANYthing could happen)

I hope to see lots of familiar and unfamiliar faces on January 21st! Looking forward to it immensely!!

Blog Hop Around the World

I’ve been invited to participate in a Blog Hop Around the World,  in which people share something about their current projects and creative processes. I think it’s a lovely opportunity to learn a little bit more about the work that goes on ‘behind the studio door’, and see the threads that run through creative work of all types across the globe.

My thanks to June Hunter – The Urban Nature Enthusiast for the tag! June creates beautiful photographs and photo-based  art, home decor pieces, and jewellery items in her Vancouver studio. June and I share a passion for corvids – ravens, crows, magpies and the like – and I really appreciate her keen eye, and her ability to capture the intelligence and quirkiness of these creatures.


So … to answer the Blog Hop questions:


I think like most artists, I have several things on the go at the same time in the studio and otherwise. This is a life of juggling: there’s the time spent in the studio, making work and sorting through ideas, of course. But I spend a good deal of time on the ‘administration’ of my practice as well: writing exhibition proposals and grants, keeping my files and expenses in order, keeping on top of the work flow, materials orders, and contract details for upcoming exhibitions, and doing a little self-promotion via the web. Add in taking the time to see other artists’ work at exhibitions, volunteer work at various art-related organizations, laundry, gardening, a little downtime, and sleep … and it’s a pretty full life.

Currently, I am preparing for a big two-person exhibition that will open in January 2015.  I will be showing some of the NEST series that I have been working on and refining for the last couple of years. The images below are from the last time this work was exhibited, at the Art Gallery of St. Albert.


I’m quite excited by the way the work has evolved, especially in the last year;  I have several new pieces well underway, and at this point (maybe that should read ‘for now’!)


I am happy with the way things are developing. I’ve been doing some writing about the background “raw material” for  newest pieces I’m working on, which you can find here and here.

Outside of studio time, I am also just back from a short trip – I was in Toronto for the CARFAC National Conference ‘Artists to Artists’ for five days.

carfac nat logo



CARFAC is a national non-profit organization dedicated to improving the socio-economic position of professional visual artists in Canada. CARFAC has been instrumental in establishing a professional fee structure that pays artists for the use of their copyrighted work and for their professional services: exhibition fees, copyright payments for image reproduction, payments for artist talks, and so on. I’m really looking forward to re-connecting with the artists that I have come know through CARFAC, and meeting a bunch of new faces too! Back home, I volunteer my time on the Board of Visual Arts Alberta-CARFAC, the provincial affiliate for CARFAC National.



This is by far the most difficult – and interesting – question I’ve faced in some time. Perhaps it comes down to approach. I see myself as having several things in my ‘toolkit’, that I take out and use or experiment with, depending on the subject of a given piece or body of work. That is to say, I don’t use just one method of expression or image creation or discipline within the visual arts. That makes me a bit hard to pin down for some – because I don’t fit neatly into one category … and I quite like that on a number of levels.

I have two distinct (but increasingly related) “threads” to my practice. One is studio based, and results in a range of output, including photo-based 2D work, drawings, assemblages, block printing, and some sculpture.

Digital Photo on Silk Organza; YORK project, created with Marian Switzer


Installation view, Naess Gallery
Archives of Absence, Installation view, Naess Gallery (with Catherine Owen)


Title: nesting practices
Sculpture, installation view; pvc, wire, gimp. Dimensions variable (approx 60″h x 36″w x 36″d)
Installation view, suspension: 75 small void nests 44" x 44" x 60" approx; charcoal on vellum, dipped in wax; each image 4" x 4"
Installation view, suspension: 75 small void nests
44″ x 44″ x 60″ approx; charcoal on vellum, dipped in wax; each image 4″ x 4″


The other is very much away from the studio, and revolves around creating large-scale, site-specific installation and sculpture.

... view down a covered walkway between structures
Make:Believe … view down a covered walkway between structures


long shot showing the entire installation and both cutoff points, offset in the beach, August 31 2013
long shot showing the entire installation and both cutoff points, offset in the beach, August 31 2013



In terms of materials and formal elements, my studio-based work often is created with transparency in mind, and on translucent or transparent substrates, and that’s not tremendously common. I am drawn to layering and accretion in image making, and also to the idea of ‘peeling back’ and exposing elements that rest below the surface – literally and metaphorically.



I am fascinated by narrative in many ways – that’s my training in literature talking!  But really, what I’m getting at here is the connections between stories and things and places … and how all of those things work together to contribute to our understanding of identity, of self.

I guess really I am a ‘closet phenomenologist’ … I work with things and the way our understanding of things tells us about how we perceive the world and ourselves.  And how changeable and slippery all of that is … that’s the fun part.


I begin with an issue or idea that I need to investigate. It’s really about exploration and detective work in a way: I use the work I create to explore ideas about how we live in the world and make sense of who we are in relation to it.

So, things like time, memory, absence … ideas about home, identity … these areas are the jumping off points for the creation of work.  Reading and research – and writing – offer things that flesh out the ideas, and bring me to starting points for making work. For example, the NEST series that I am (still) working on began with rereading Gaston Bachelard’s Poetics of Space – chapter 4 concerns nests in particular.

In the end, it’s about communicating. Finding threads of common experience, and talking about living in the world through visual means  – because for me, sometimes words can’t quite transmit what I see or want to say.

It’s about find a path through it all, and occasionally making sense of it.

(en)compass, 2014


(en)compass, Bay of Fundy, July 2014

And it is now my pleasure to pass the Blog Hop on “across the Pond” … to Emily Hughes at Searching to See.  I’m really interested in hearing more about Emily’s process and sources of inspiration – and I think you’ll enjoy hearing from her too!



I am told it is Spring in this part of the world. I feel (given the snow and cold the last couple of days) that this is really a sad little joke, that’s rapidly wearing very very thin. I haven’t even got my usual bout of ‘spring fever’ yet … and that’s really odd!

I feel like I am at one end …


… and not likely to see the other end anytime soon.

It’s an exercise in patience.

And every once in a while (probably not nearly often enough!) I am given one of these lessons – or several in a row. This is a good thing, I think, because even at the best of times making work can become about the ‘product’ or the ‘end result’ rather than the process of making.

I want to see the results immediately:


It can be difficult to remain mindful of being in the moment with the work and what it is teaching at that point when deadlines are tugging at your sleeve demanding that you “finish” the thing you are making. I often feel the need to move faster …


… and usually at times when the best course of action is the exact opposite.

Or when the to-do list is getting longer and longer, and each thing on it seems to take far longer than you wished to get done – or you need to be in two (or more) places at once … .


This is an ongoing battle for me, and my growing excitement at getting close to realizing a body of work doesn’t help one bit. If anything, it makes it worse!

Still, it is a busy, busy time, and things are in fact moving ahead on a number of fronts – and actually, much faster than it feels to me just now.

Work on the YORK project is moving along really well – files are off to the printers, and if the initial proofs are any indication, the final prints are going to be worth seeing! I’ve also just received an order of acrylic at the studio, and the shelves and brackets we need for the exhibition should be finished in the next two weeks. Mould-making and casting is progressing – slowly, but well – so really, it’s all coming together!

… and maybe Spring will come together soon too …


*the signs referring to equipment on Star Trek vessels are from a secret location in Edmonton. I will only say that I am so happy that thanks to the highly bureaucratic nature of the place  where these signs are posted, no one proofread the text before the order went in …

A change in season, a change in space

Well. It’s been a while! Despite my best intentions to get back into a regular routine here, I’ve been consumed with getting things sorted post-exhibition-opening: clearing out the AIR studio for the next person, securing a second (small, but soon to be mighty) workspace so I can actually move between supplies, worktable, and storage (thinking ahead to when all the work comes down too!), getting new projects sorted and underway. OH, and catching up on all the other ‘stuff’ that has needed doing for the last while, and that I’d semi-successfully swept under the large carpet called “ignore.”

And these shifts come at an altogether appropriate point: the change to the long, dark half of the year here. That time if hunkering down, daylight saving, soup and stew, fires and sweaters and hot tea. I really appreciate that the residency officially had its end on October 31; a day of ancestors, of looking back in time and thought, that pause for review and acknowledgement before moving forward again.

SO – on with it, back to it.

First on the long list was to bid a fond farewell to my big residency studio, pack everything back into my original (somehow very much smaller than it was!) studio, and prep for the next Harcourt House Artist-in-Residence to arrive.

… back to big, white walls, and being able to see the floor!

The AIR previous to me, Dave Janzen, had done a fantastic job of prepping the space for my arrival, and I only thought it fitting to extend that gesture – pay it forward, as the saying now has it – and do the same on my leave-taking.

… ready for more …

So, out came the spackle, the sanding blocks, the primer and paint. Walls, once covered with charcoal dust, pushpin and nail holes, were now in reasonably sensible shape. Got the place swept and emptied too!

It was a little sad to say goodbye to this studio – I had spent many, many hours there making work. A bit odd too, to see the space so empty again (people keep telling me I made a lot of work this past year … I believe them now!!)

Some little gestures toward continuity in other ways were here too. Some of the previous Artists in Residence had left behind little tokens to signify their presence and work in this space. Tim Rechner (AIR 2005-2006) wrote above the doorway “keep building it up” … and no one has removed or covered that call to action and intent. I found it a good reminder on a number of levels, to be sure. Dave Janzen (AIR 2010-2011) left behind an image printed on a piece of corrugated cardboard: a quirky vintage image of a small boy in short pants, grinning in a most disturbing way from under an equally disturbing haircut (you can see the bit of card on the wall, beside the shelf in the picture above). I left a little something too: an experimental gel transfer on plexiglas, showing a series of nests in a bank of trees. These small things do far more than assert the ego-driven “I was here” – to me, to me they are marks of presence that address ideas of history and continuity in the art-making in that studio … they are an ongoing welcome, and an invitation to more.

Of course, doors often close and open simultaneously.

… just down the hall, new adventures to come …

I was extremely fortunate that another studio came available in the building, just down the hall from my studio!  I’d put my name in for a second space quite some time ago, in anticipation of needing the room after the residency finished, and especially after the exhibition work comes down later this month! I’m still very much in the early stages of getting things sorted, out of tubs and boxes, and into the “right” studio – this space will be for messy work, and my original studio will be a ‘clean’ space for storing work, drawing, research and writing, and printmaking.  More pictures to follow of the new space, when it’s been sorted and painted!

This second space is also a marker of a different sort – it heralds the beginning of a brand new project! I will be sharing this space (and my original studio) with Marian Switzer to develop a photo-based body of work called YORK. I’ve discussed it a bit previously here – but there’s much more to come in the next while, as the work develops and the pieces fit together. Look for a static page and a separate blog on the project, coming very soon!  I am really excited about the way this work is coming together already, and I’m really looking forward to digging deeply into it over the next while.

… and with that, I should really get on with the ‘to do’ list!

Much Afoot …

Well, it’s been very  – very – busy in the studio lately!

Seems as though I’m actually making some headway though, so that’s a good thing … the last push before the exhibition in October continues, with some interesting related-but-slightly-tangential-to-the-moment projects along the way, for good measure (just in case I felt like I needed more work to keep me busy … sheesh).

The sculptural pieces I want to include in the Residency exhibition in October are nearing completion (phew~!!), and I am really quite happy with the results as they stand just now. Some tweaking and fine tuning to still do, but overall, things have worked out as I wanted and expected them to (no small sigh of relief there).

I have also been writing, and working on writing-related things … since October 3, 2011, I have been collaborating with Catherine Owen on a sustained project related directly to the work I’ve been doing in the studio: we have been co-writing a poem … and we just finished it! The piece is 50o lines long … yup, TWO zeroes there … 250 lines each, alternating, for almost a year. The idea for this project came from Catherine’s discovery that it can take up to 500 trips for a bird to find the material it needs to complete a nest. So, from this “500 lines about Childhood –  or  – It Can Take One Bird Up to 500 Trips to Complete a Nest” was born. It is by turns funny, quirky, eccentric, painful … all the things childhood is and can be – and has been – for both of us. An incredibly powerful experience to write this with Cath, and I am very grateful to her for suggesting it – and for being such a great support and inspiration throughout.  The work in its entirety will be incorporated into a sculpture I am presenting next month.  Images to follow … just not yet!

I’ve also been working with Catherine on another poetry project that will see the light of day at the October exhibition of NEST – we are producing a chapbook of Catherine’s poems and my block prints! NEST {types} is the title of this little book, and it includes a selection of nest poems written by Catherine Owen, and a limited edition series of hand carved block prints of different nest types created by yours truly. I am really excited about this chapbook – both  the writing and the prints – and am having a delightful time putting it all together.

Some pictures  – not the best – but to give you a hint of what’s in store when it all comes together:

The cover of the Chapbook, featuring a block print of a magpie nest, created and photographed for the book
The set of seven block prints that will accompany the nest poems. The nests you see represented here are the following Birds: Eagle, Blackbird, Grosbeak, Marsh Wren, European Bee Eater, and Weaver.


Carving the blocks for this project was a wondrous experience for me – a lovely combination of the things I love best: drawing, sculpture, and printing (which I haven’t done in any concerted way since printshop class in high school – which I loved!). And to be honest, I just love working with my hands – the making of doing this was so incredibly satisfying. And at the end of the day, being able to see this set of 350 prints (7 prints, 50 copies of the chapbook being created), finished and ready to be bound into the chapbook, was one of the most satisfying moments I think I’ve ever had.

More to come … soon!


Nesting, or Obsessing … Take Your Pick!

Things have been pretty quite around these parts lately, for which I apologize. It’s been a ‘go hard or go home’ kind of time the last few weeks … much going on, much to be done. This seems to be the way of it.

So… this is what I’ve been up to:

There was a really nice article in the Edmonton Journal about my work and the Residency this past Friday. Given the number of hits on my web site that day, I’d say a few people out there saw it. Thanks for stopping in – hope you come back in the future!

I’ve also been making work like a mad fool; today was day 7 in a row in the studio … 5 or 6 more to go before a day off (and I am in NO way complaining!). This is simply the point in the Residency when I get to PANIC!! There’s a part of me that is perfectly rational, and knows the work is coming along just fine, and I will have more than enough ready for the exhibition in October, and I just have to trust myself and the process of making the work and exploring all these ideas (as I have for the last 8 months) … and there’s that voice in the back of my head screaming at me … “What on earth do you think you’re doing?? What does it all mean anyway?? DO you even know anymore?? What made you think that this was good work, anyway?!”  The usual … it’s a fact of life for many of us I think. The closer we come to a big deadline, the tougher we are on what we have done and still need to do. Still, it’s been a bit unnerving and stressful … but a great stimulus for working hard!

To wit:

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I have also been drawing on a much larger scale:

I kept the ceiling and floodlight in this picture to give some sense of scale … the drawing is roughly 50 inches by 50 inches. You don’t want to know how covered in charcoal I was after this!

And I’ve also been having a terrific time exploring the finer points of block printing! It’s been a complete blast doing these so far … and I am discovering all kinds of things about mark making, and the correlation between the way I draw and the way I use the knives to carve the blocks. I am quite happy with the results of these test prints … so expect to see some of this work in October for sure:

A 6″ x 6″ test print … carved, based on one of the hundreds of photos I’ve taken of nests for this body of work.

And …

A smaller test print, roughly 3″ x 3″. It’s been really interesting to think about the positive and negative space in carving these – working through the best way to convey some sense of three dimensional space in the final print.

And of course, there’s other things going on in the background … I am exhibiting the Archives of Absence work at the Naess Gallery in September, including brand new work that is an extension of the original project; I am thinking about the work I will out together for an exhibition in February 2013 in Toronto (more to come on both of these soon) … waiting to hear back about a grant application Marian and I applied for to develop the York Hotel work we shot in September 2011 … thinking about places to send exhibition proposals. Oh, and occasionally, I have the time and gumption to do something around the house.

And on that note … off to bed! Another early start Monday! Hope you all had a good weekend!