Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Temagami and Me

(An Artist Should I Learn To Be)
Part VI

Dawn Chorus
Colour Inks on Drawing Board
14” x 9”

Upon completion of our exhausting journey throughout ten communities in Southern Ontario, Alan and I spent a period of time reflecting on our experiences. We discussed the events that had happened and we wondered about the things that were still to come.

We had set out to educate people and raise awareness about the issues of clear-cut forestry practices that were happening in the Temagami region of Northern Ontario and we both agreed that we had, indeed, accomplished that goal. With all of the support we received from many local businesses, the newspaper, television and radio media and community grass roots organizations, we calculated that between 80 000 – 130 000 people in Southern Ontario were now aware of Temagami’s existence and it’s struggle for survival. We were more than impressed!!

We spent many hours sharing stories of our adventures with our family and friends. Out of the many events that happened, two significant moments shine in my memory…

Our public presentation consisting of music, photographs and video recordings was a very dramatic expression, to say the least. I can remember, on several occasions, becoming very emotionally involved in the words I had prepared to share with our audiences.

At one of our venues a mother had brought her three year old son along to learn about Nature and humanities responsibility to act respectfully towards all of life’s wonderful creations… including the Temagami forestland. Later, when the presentation was over and we were about to have the ‘lighting of the torches’, this mother called me off to the side for some private words. With tears in her eyes she clasped my hands and leaning in she whispered softly in my ear, “Thank you.” She then hugged me, and looked down to her son and while smoothing his hair with her hand she said, “I’ll make sure that my son never forgets the lessons and understandings that were shared here, this evening.”

A few days later we were in the town of New Hamburg. It is a smaller town, but it showed us that it was filled with a lot of heart. Only seven people attended our presentation and no one thought that this was a bad thing.

A mother with two teenage daughters asked what our plans were for the night. I told her that Alan and I had a four hour walk ahead of us before we reached our prearranged campsite. The campsite was to be an area of untilled farmland at the back of a farmer’s field. She knew that we had to set off on our walk very shortly, and with gleams of star-shine in her eyes she simply asked if we could wait for half an hour before we departed. We did.

A short time later, I could hear singing and laughing, thumping and bumping and a lot of “Hooras!!!” in the distance. I nudged Alan and said, “It sounds like the town is having some sort of parade on the same day as our walk.” The sounds grew ever louder as they grew ever closer. Moments later, a group of five adults with twelve children loaded with hiking gear, tents, pillows, pots and walking sticks rounded the corner. We recognized several faces from our presentation. Alan and I looked at each other in absolute amazement!!!!

In the morning, the farmer who had shared his land with us, came to wish us a good day. He was rather speechless for a few moments as he looked upon our entourage of over twenty people, as we busied ourselves preparing breakfast under a row of trees that edged his field. He was delighted to sit with us to share a warm drink and listen to all the excited stories that the children had to share with him.

I smiled and my heart grew a size bigger, that morning.

(To be continued…)

+ + +

‘Dawn Chorus’ is, again, based on a photograph that I took while adventuring throughout the Temagami region…

I’d mentioned near the beginning of this short story series, that I learned about Temagami while attending presentations given by environmental organizations that had been working towards changing government policies to protect these endangered forestlands. While I was having my own personal adventures in this region, I happened along this group’s ‘protest camp’ that was set up just outside the next area that had been slated for logging.

I was invited to spend some time with this group and soon I was looking for an area where I could set up my tent. I found a large clearing along the edge of a wide river – it was a very peaceful place. I spent a lot of time with the people in this group – all of us excited to be sharing stories of our individual experiences over the last several months.

Together, we went for hikes through the forests. We got lost on one occasion causing all of us to have to cross through a swamp to find the trail, again. We spent the evening cooking dinners over a fire that was surrounded with wet boots and socks!

I also enjoyed many moments on my own. For hours I sat by the slow moving river, looking across the shore to the forest on the other bank. I meditated in my own fashion and found myself lost, on several occasions, in the rhythms and heartbeats of this forest. The energies of growth and vibrations of the Earth slipped in and out of my mind and my soul. I felt that I had ‘touched’ the Earth for the first time in my life.

I woke rather early, one morning, and I crawled out of my tent, wrapped in blankets so that I could experience a morning sunrise. As the sun began to push back the night stars a thick, eerie and mysterious fog began to form on top of the surface of this river. I took several photographs to try to capture this evolving moment. ‘Dawn Chorus’ is based on one of these photos.

Like many of the artworks created in this ‘Group of Seven’ series depicting the beauty of the Temagami forestland, ‘Dawn Chorus’ is based on concepts of reflection. While other artworks were designed around just one reflection, I felt compelled to add a second reflection to this art peace.

Near the top of this artwork we see a reflected ghost-like apparition. This is the fog that rose and settled upon the river. As we travel down the art we see an upside down silhouette of the forest. This is the forest reflecting on the surface of the river. Also reflected on the river is the morning sky, filled with gentle clouds and the bursting colours of the morning sun.

The second reflection found in this artwork is found near the left side. Quite simply, I added a mirror line and reflected the original reflection a second time on a vertical axis. The idea manifested in my designing mind and I just thought that I would look nice – adding more textures for the viewer to enjoy.

The title ‘Dawn Chorus’ came to mind on the morning when I experienced this sunrise. As the moment was unfolding I was thinking of Earth spirits – the undulating fogs looked like shape-shifting beings/angels/spirits - a choir, singing a chorus of celebration for the dawn. A chorus that embodied the word ‘hope’. As these thoughts were flirting with my brain I could here the banging of a deep drum and feel the electric pulse of Dave Sharp’s guitar while Mike Peters leans towards a microphone….

Dawn Chorus (excerpt)
By The Alarm

The tension in this world
Keeps me from sleep
I’m hungry and cold
There’s a weight hanging over my shoulder
A rain black cloud of doubt

Have I got enough love? Have I got enough hope?
Enough strength to face the world each day?
I know there’s an answer somewhere in this night
I see it each time I look in your eyes

I’m walking in a wild place
I am banging on the gates
On the other side of the tracks, babe
Hoping that someone’s gonna hear me pray

Oh there’s a dawn chorus breaking out all over this town


At that time, gazing across the river, I was naming the photograph I had just taken. It wouldn’t be for another decade when I would revisit this inspiration to bring this title to life again as it entitled a new peace of art.

This artwork was presented to not just one childhood friend, but two! Teresa H. and I have known each other since elementary school and while in high school Teresa met her husband to be, who is also a friend of mine. Eric is a member of the Green Party of Canada and Teresa is a teacher, so I was very happy to know that this artwork would be residing in a home that could appreciate its significance.


No comments: