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Exploring local colours …

A handful of Earth

This is the website of Christopher van Donkelaar.

I have a deep need to belong where I am … exploring the local colour of where I’m standing is the best way I know how. Unearthing these unique hues creates the different threads of my practice—its colour, story, and place. In this way, my longing shapes my vocation, and is revealed in both community projects and in my cognitive and iconographic art.

The local colours I use mostly come from places I visit. Across Canada, and the world, there are veins, fields, and mountains of colour. Sometimes these are only inches deep and other times hundreds of feet high. The colour of each one is unique—in its hue and texture, in the sound it makes when ground, and in its smell.

Every place I draw colour from has a story, too. Whether that story is new or old, my pilgrimages to collect local colour affords me the chance to make my experience part of that history. The success of my pilgrimages is without a doubt due to the countless people who have helped. In this, I’ve been humbled by the overwhelming generosity of people sharing where they live with me.

Place informs all my work, and sharing this awareness of place is also fulfilling. Whether this is experienced in a child making crayons from a found-stone and beeswax, or professional artists making paint, or a congregation celebrating the liturgy in a church, my desire is to voice the earth by connecting to the local landscape.