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