As this is the beginning of my blog I am going to start with a few images from a few months ago to catch everyone up one what I have been up to.
Lucy assisting me in the hotshop to encapsulate a cast beaver skulls in a blown glass bubble.
This work is following on from my work Pile of Bones, (shown below) and is looking at memory and ideas of home and place.
I grew up is a small town outside of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. Before European settlement the area where the city of Regina was founded was called pile of bones by the Cree first nations people. It was a meeting place for the Cree and had vast piles of buffalo bones from generations of use. (see the picture below) They believed that so long as the bones remained the living buffalo wouldn't leave the spirits of their dead ancestors, thus ensuring the food supply and way of life for the Cree.
After European settlement the bones were all piled in orderly piles, as you see in the picture, and shipped off to use in fertiliser and other industrial processes of the time.While the buffalo were vital to most North American first Nation tribes it was a much smaller animal that largely facilitated the great shift from Native American land to land ‘owned’ by Anglo-Europeans, the beaver. Its pelt was highly prized in England and the rest of Europe and the ever-increasing demand drove the fur traders further and further west across North America. Soon after vast tracks of land that were home to the nomadic Cree Indians were divided, fenced and claimed becoming home to European settlers.
While the pile of bones are a direct reference to a specific location of personal significance and the beaver skull a reference to a complex Canadian history, the work also operates as a cairn, both a marker and monument, to a geographic location and to a memory and sense of “home”.
If we look through the lens of the vanitas, the bones could represent the passage of time and the impermanence of life. But while vanitas imply certain meaninglessness to life this work speaks of the great meaning found in life and past experience. The materiality of the bones aims to convey both a real and an implied sense of fragility. It stands as a fragile monument to our connection to and memories of the past.
The installation operates both as personal and cultural memory, the glass bones marking the geography of my home, while the tally marks covering the surface of the beaver skull keep track of past experiences, stories and events. Personal experiences and events that I feel the need to remember, events that form the foundations of my understanding of “home”, and cultural stories and events that acknowledge the shift from past notions of “home” to present.