In the North, between surface and permafrost, lies a layer of earth in which are embedded bits of fishing hooks, knives and beads. Cultural archaeologists at Trochek and other sites, sift through soil to find fragments of human detritus that will add to their knowledge and insight. They are piecing together tales of people who lived here once upon a time.
The process I use in my drawing/paintings in the exhibition Shard mimics the archaeological actions of deconstructing and closely examining fragments, then juxtaposing them to build up a fresh narrative. Each drawing is frayed at the edges to give the viewer hints of what is below the picture plane: under the black and white drawing lies a monochromatic flat colour field which itself floats atop an India ink painting. If my format and use of colour hold self-imposed restrictions, so too does the time frame. Each drawing/painting is allotted two days. The reasons for this are two-fold; one is to establish a pseudo-scientific rhythm to production and the other is to allow the visual elements introduced during Day I to infiltrate the subconscious and get resolved for completion on Day II. Dream time is as significant as work time.
In fact the dreamscape with its concomitant fracturing of scale and quirky juxtapositions, figures significantly in the work. Overlapping and transparency of images cause the viewer to experience that dreamlike sensation of being in two places at once. One step removed from the dream is myth or legend. Incorporated into the main body of work is an overlay of allusions to the mythic traditions of various cultures. The stories referenced are from Europe, ancient Greece, China, and Canada’s First Nations. The titles sometimes provide clues: Drink Me, Leaf Baby, Raven and Nightingale, Persephone, Jewel in the Tree, Herakles Diverts the River.
Thematically, issues emerge that are both specific to the North as well as being universal. My overriding concern is with how nature and human environments encroach upon and accommodate each other. Some drawings that allude to natural resources confounded and depleted by human activity include Migration, Medal, and Dredge #4 with Bird. Another theme is human interaction; how an individual connects to family and to community both present and past. In this context the roles of memory and hope are examined in drawings such as Wife of a Citizen, Strings and Ropes, Persephone, and Leaf Baby.
There are two other related bodies of work in this exhibition, both dimensionally smaller than the main body of drawing/paintings. One is titled Fractured Heads, the other is Pluperfect Particles. These small drawings developed directly from sketches and photographs produced during my artist residency at KIAC in the summer of 2002. At first they were regarded as working drawings but as they continued to expand in numbers and scope, they transformed into a commentary upon the discourse carried on in the larger pieces. They are installed in varying configurations of broken grids so that they suggest a scrabble game or a crossword puzzle – letters and words forming the building blocks of language, narrative and communication.