Friday, April 1, 2011

Empress Street Hill, oil on canvas, 2011, detail of image

Organic Fusion, oil on canvas, 2011, detail of image

I take much of my inspiration from nature and from sites where nature is in the process of reclaiming what humanity has left behind. When I start to paint often I will have several images strewn on the table next to me as inspiration. Some of my favorites are of an old farmhouse close to where I live, a wooden train car abandoned in the bush (also near where I live), and images of small items crumbling and slowly decaying I have found lying in the forest. I feel a little lost when I find things like this because our impact on the planet is so evident in the garbage we leave behind. As we hear more and more about the cumulative effect our lifestyle has upon the planet its easy to get pessimistic about the future of civilization. From our need for electricity and the detrimental effects its production has on the landscape, to our production and extensive use of plastic the “throw away” product that takes anywhere from 10-750 years to decompose.

I am inspired though by the rejuvenation process that occurs when nature reclaims what we have left behind. Detail images from my most recent paintings titled Empress Street Hill and Organic Fusion, are shown above. Empress Street Hill or Westview Park or garbage hill as it is more commonly known as in Winnipeg is a popular site for sledders, but it was once a landfill. Now a city park of sorts used by joggers, cyclists and dog owners, trees and trails line the hill top and its summer slopes are grassy. What lies beneath for future generations comes into question as the detritus of our past becomes the foundation of our civilization. This process of building on our past has never been more perilous or complicated.

Organic Fusion explores the process of decomposition in a painterly way. By adding and removing paint, leaving latent images and using colours suggestive of flesh I am exploring the human body in relation to the landscape. Soft, round forms suggestive of fruit or seeds fleshly painted illustrate the connection between human life and the environment we live in. The human race’s survival is intrinsically intertwined with the ecosystem of our planet, yet our fundamental approach to life leads to the consumption and destruction of our planets resources. As I paint I am asking what if we looked for ways to live in harmony with, to grow more than destroy, and adapt our lifestyle more to our surroundings. Answers to these questions are coming but slowly and slower still is the process of enacting change.