Thursday, February 23, 2012

Temagami and Me

(An Artist Should I Learn To Be)
Part I

Reflections of Temagami I: Fallen Comrade
Black ink on drawing board
36” x 24”

I am not a gambling man, and, even so, I would wager that there exists no person over the age of twelve who has not heard of, or seen on T.V. a disastrous environmental story. At age twenty-five I had, indeed, heard my fair share of frightening events and yet my growing concerns only confused me.

I became curious to understand the history of these problems…

I read books about the rise of our Industrial culture and global populations. I watched a television show about rising sea levels and the spread of disease and wondered about a picture of a baby whale dying in a fisherman's net. I heard about rivers on fire caused by water pollution. I flipped through a book with pictures of garbage trucks loading ocean barges with thousands of tones of North American waste to be exported to poorer countries. I sighed as I read an essay that explained the reasons for world hunger. I cried as I rode my bike home from work past another subdivision that had recently been a small wood lot and farmer's field. I felt a sense of desperation as I saw a photograph depicting 'Adam and Eve' in the year 2047...realizing that the image was (at that time) already five years old.

I picked up a pamphlet that told the story of TEMAGAMI.

I smiled to my girlfriend and whispered that everything was going to be all right. I learned that many people were taking action to raise awareness about a sacred forestland on the brink of extinction caused by clear cutting and I wanted to learn more.

To be continued…

+ + + +

You may notice that this first of a seven-part story is rather short! Actually, all seven parts are about this length. I didn’t want my story to take away from the artworks that were on display during my ‘Reflections of Temagami’ art tour, so I did a lot of editing to make sure that my story fit neatly onto just seven pages – one page was displayed beneath each of the seven artworks.

I have always considered ‘Fallen Comrade’ to be my first ever artwork. Yes – many of my school friends remind me that my youth was filled with lots of drawings and sketches and Yes – I spent my years in college creating many drawings and sketches for my architectural and interior design programs…. but all of that was schoolwork or just a bit of fun.

‘Fallen Comrade’ represents to me, the first time that I had focussed and bent my creativity towards an inspirational cause.

While in the Temagami region – this seven-part story will soon take us there – I took a lot of photographs. I really wanted to capture the variety of landscapes that unfolded and revealed themselves during my journey to this very special place.

Upon my return, I waited very impatiently as my slides were developed. Yes – I was shooting with colour slide film! Joanne and I packed a small lunch into a knapsack and took the developed slides to a park area, here in London, Ontario, to see the final results. We made an afternoon of it realizing that each photo would start a long conversation.

I was very happy with most of them… and a bit devastated that a few of my hopeful favourites didn’t turn out at all – oops! Wrong setting on the camera!!

When we got to the photo of the image that inspired ‘Fallen Comrade’ my breath was taken away. I felt tingles crawling down my spine. I heard a whispering voice from within the photo telling me to draw! And, so, I did!

One month later, I wondered what I would do with this completed ink drawing. I thought about making copies, selling them and using part of the profits to benefit other groups who were also involved in raising awareness about the Temagami forestland. But I didn’t know how to do this.

I ended up speaking with Diny O’Dell at Artisans Alley (she is still there and I still visit her about twice a year) and I showed her my drawing. A more encouraging person I have never met!! I still believe that had I not met Diny that I may not have continued to pursue my newfound talents!

Her advice was that I shouldn’t think about making prints and trying to sell them at this point. It would be best if I just continued drawing…“and don’t ever stop!” And, so, I did!

The next decade and a half, presented many unique and life-changing adventures for my wife and myself. As ‘Fallen Comrade’ was so large and I didn’t want to see it damaged during our many moves, I decided to give it to my parents. Soon, this drawing was delicately matted and put behind glass and hung in my parents’ living room, where I am still able to enjoy it when I go to visit.

I’m sure that this drawing will be a part of my family for many generations to come.


No comments: