Riverspines (2010-12)

The series is an exploration of the relationship between the land and sky, above, and their reflection in the surface of the water, below. It is an exploration of the rivers edge, or spine, along which these worlds meet and the nature of the membrane, or skin, that holds them together and keeps them separate.

The work focuses on the edges of the Slocan and Columbia Rivers in the Slocan Valley of British Columbia, on the very meeting between land and water and the reflection thereby created. The idea of playing with the direction of the axis is explored, making the horizontal vertical and the rendering of image that includes its reflection is seen. The human body is referenced in the land and water and its meeting, and the alluding to the skin of the water is drawn.

The research process has occurred along these rivers which I have traveled by canoe, viewing both the riverbanks and their reflections in the water. By the natural meeting of the land, above, and its mirrored reflection in the water, below, an edge or "spine", can be observed. Along this axis, solid forms meet the edge of the river and find their reflection. Abstracted imagery can be found that alludes to natural forms: faces, masks, bones, birds, animals, and skeletons. I have witnessed, gathered and recorded information en route, in the form of drawings and photography, and have extrapolated my findings through a process of artistic abstraction, transferring the imagery from the horizontal axis of the land to the vertical axis of the human body.

The choice to source visual material by way of canoe is a conscious one. It has little impact on the rivers and makes reference to Canadian heritage, both immigrant and indigenous. Informing the process is the cartographic idea of “rivermapping” juxtaposed with the artistic idea of “bodymapping”: the expression that results when the riverscape meets and is filtered through the interior landscape of the artist. Included in the research process has been the gathering of old photographs and maps from archives, reading historical accounts of life along the river and, most importantly, receiving information, stories and memories from certain traditional Sinixt people within whose territory I live. It is by the request of the Headman, Bob Campbell, that I include some Sinixt text in the work. Given the sensitive nature of including representation  of my relationship with this indigenous culture in my work, the references made are treated with carefulness and consciousness, and are often subtle and symbolic. The role of the conscious witness is always in awareness.