Up the Dempster

The Dempster highway is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. As it winds it’s way north, it would have eventually taken me to the arctic circle (although I never quite got that far!). The landscape changed with every rounded hill or crested mountain. At one point it was a winter wonderland, with every mountain covered white with snow, but a short drive further and I found myself taking off layers and in a spring-like tundra. Thanks to the generosity and enthusiasm of the people in Dawson City, I’ve had the opportunity to travel it twice while here … Read the rest

Dawson City’s Local Colours


It’s hard to believe how much things have changed during my first week in Dawson City. When I arrived last Sunday, the Yukon River was still frozen (in fact I crossed on its ice bridge that very day …) but yesterday it broke up, and is now flowing freely. Spring is coming on strong here in the Yukon!

This is a wonderful place. The light is warm on the skin and cool in the eye. There’s space beside and above you everywhere you go. This expanse is filled with people saying hello as you pass each other and ravens making … Read the rest

Jesus Christ: King of Glory

KingOfGlory_01For many years now I have used the local colours of Conestogo—the earth of the place where I live—to create icons of Christ and his saints. In doing so I have celebrated that God can be found even in a handful of earthy colour. In making these works, I have experienced again and again the spirit of love that enjoins dirt and divinity.

During Lent, I’ve had opportunity to make an icon of Christ, the King of Glory. This is a rare iconographic depiction of Christ dead, and in the tomb. As a result, for the first time, I’ve had … Read the rest

Icon Making at Kings

Although I’ve been to Halifax many times, I’ve never had the opportunity to see the University of King’s College campus, or its chapel. But, last week I rectified that, when I visited and lead a group in making an icon during a week-long workshop. Our time together began with a public presentation about iconography on the preceding Sunday night, and then the attendees worked for the following five days to create their own icon of Christ, using traditional methods and local colours from the area.

King's Chapel

When I first walked into the beautiful chapel I immediately knew that it was a  … Read the rest

Pilgrimage: Finding Canada’s Local Colours

An exhibition by artist Symeon van Donkelaar ran from September 3-27 at the Craig Gallery in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

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Show Statement


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Gallery Photos


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In the Media




Londonderry Blue Hieroglyph



Londonderry Diagram

sieved mulled floated fired
Sieved Mulled Floated Fired



Saint Paul


As a teacher and a light to the world, great Apostle, pray that our actions today be … Read the rest

Found Wanted Black

Last week I had the opportunity to work with a wonderful bunch of people out in Edmonton, Alberta in celebrating, finishing, and perhaps resurrecting Betty Spackman’s Found Wanting exhibition. I was lucky enough to attend the exhibition when it appeared at the Reach Gallery Museum in Abbotsford, British Columbia in 2011. At that time, the gallery wrote that,

“In Found Wanting, Spackman wrestles with the dilemma we have as consumers between the objects we consume and the stories connected to them. To illustrate this point she has methodically collected and cleaned the bones of those domesticated animals we readily consume … Read the rest

Tea Hill Red

Until this year, Prince Edward Island had been one of the few  provinces in Canada where I hadn’t yet gone on a local colour pilgrimage—looking for potential earth pigments in a community. The island is famous for its reds, so I was especially excited to take this trip and see the colours for myself.

My hotel during this stay was near the downtown of Charlottetown, and as I prepared for my pilgrimage I packed a bag with my shovel, small baggies, and a little food and water. After receiving a few recommendations of where to look from community members, I … Read the rest