About the Exhibition
January 22nd to May 27th, 2015
Selected works from an artist residency in Gwaii Haanas in 2014 are currently on display at the Artists in Gwaii Haanas Exhibition held at the Haida Gwaii Museum. The work was inspired by the artist's adventurous expedition into Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve and Haida Heritage Site, located on the remote and beautiful archipelago of Haida Gwaii in northern British Columbia Canada.
Haida Gwaii Museum
Ḵay Llnagaay Heritage Centre
#2 Second Beach Road,
Skidegate, BC, Canada
Tel: 250 559-4643
About the Artists
The three exhibiting artists, all from British Columbia, include Jayne Patrick, from the Fraser Valley, Charlie Easton, from Vancouver and Ariane Medley, from Old Masset.
Learn more about the artists
There is a dichotomy that becomes evident from experiencing Gwaii Haanas. It is a place of stunning natural beauty, biodiversity and cultural riches, yet pressures from the outside world impose a dark threat on its delicate balance. There is a sense of both hope and doom in this special place, and of sadness and joy.
Whether we live on Haida Gwaii, or in Vancouver, London, Beijing or Fukashima, we are all intricately connected to the natural world. The impacts of our daily lives, our consumption and accumulation of ‘stuff’, is felt in Gwaii Haanas and other wild places, yet distance anesthetizes us from an inescapable truth. These ecosystems supporting our very existence, balance precariously between pristine health and annihilation by human activity.
Similarly, an ancient indigenous culture has been deeply impacted by outsiders. I wept at the solemn site of the abandoned villages of Sgang Gwaay, Skedans and Tanu, who’s residents mostly perished from smallpox. Survivors all but lost their cultural identity when their cultural practices were outlawed by the Canadian government until as recently as the 1990's. But there is hope; once torn apart by disease and culturecide, the incredibly resilient Haida people have rediscovered and nurtured their culture. During my time in Gwaii Haanas I experienced age-old traditions of harvesting from the astounding biodiversity of sea and forest; a wealth of food, fibre and spiritual strength. As I watched the infant daughter of a Haida Watchwoman, while her tiny fingers copied ancient motions of splitting spruce roots for weaving, I was filled with optimism for the future of these people.
Immersed in the beautiful order of Gwaii Haanas, I paused, breathless and teary from the thought of the total devastation that would result from an oil spill or unchecked resource extraction. Is this a microcosm of the bigger picture? From this experience - these moments of profound clarity - come these images. My paint and canvas hold my joy, love, fear and despair for our planet and our future. We must mind the gap between urban living and far away ecosystems, and like the Haida, we must all reconnect with forgotten values, find our voices and accept our individual responsibility in both the problem and the solutions, if we are to bathe in the light of optimism.