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Artworks of wonder, tragedy, and sacredness in the land's local colour


As an artist, I forage the local colours of the land and make art.

My local colour portraits disclose the land as full of personality, myth, history, and spirit. Some are the result of sacred pilgrimages, others come from the scars of industry. Each reveal the life of the earth in its colour. Seeing such ochres as alive is an ancient approach, going back to a time when more people listened to the earth as a teacher. In these local colour portraits the land is something still worthy of our attention today.

Because our modern lifestyle blinds us to the land’s presence, we are destroying the environment and ourselves. Through these local colour portraits we see the earth anew and are challenged to rethink our effect on the land.

New Colours and Stories from Cobalt

  Cobalt is an amazing town to visit for local colours! A century ago it had a floating population of 12,000 people living in it, mined almost 1,000 tons of silver in a single year (30,000,000 ounces), and even had the cheek to dub Toronto as, “the place where you catch the train to Cobalt”.…

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Firing Ochre and Bone

  This week I fired some ochres and bones at my studio in Conestoga. I love this process, and was excited to see the results of heating a few different soils and clays from here in the village in my outdoor firing pit. I’d also been given a large bag of bones last fall from a friend who…

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Getting Ready to Grow Woad Blue

Last weekend, with the help of the whole family, we got to work setting up for growing a new batch of woad here in Conestoga. Using old tires from the garage beside my studio, we set up fifty planters for what I hope will create an ideal place for last year’s woad seeds to grow. It…

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Paint Pots Pilgrimage

I’ve wanted to visit the Kootenay Paint Pots since I first read about them a decade ago—and last week I did! Since a conference at the Banff Art Centre was bringing me to Alberta, I took the opportunity to cross into Kootenay National Park and visit the Paint Pots on three different occasions. Arriving in Calgary early in the…

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Warsaw Pilgrimage

I doubt if the previous camper at the site knew that she’d been collaborating on an art project with me … Last week my family and I headed to Eastern Ontario, in Canada, to explore the area around the village of Warsaw. While there I went on a few pilgrimages, purposefully looking for certain local…

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Pilgrimage on the Dempster Highway

The Dempster Highway, in the Yukon, is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. As it winds it’s way north, it would have eventually lead all the way to the arctic circle (although I never quite got that far!). The landscape changed with every rounded hill or crested mountain. It went from a winter wonderland, with every…

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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…

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Found Wanting 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…

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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…

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