My multimedia art practice is deeply connected to my forest garden on Salt Spring Island. Materials I gather here inform my drawings, paintings and sculptures to inspire tactile, visual, or auditory explorations. This iterative process of human and nature becomes a contemplative and devotional experience. The works explore sentience and interbeing – the consciousness in all living things and how we are all inter-connected.
This is an exhibit for dendrophiles (lovers of trees) and petrophiles (lovers of rocks)- both of which I happily am!
Trees symbolize renewal, transformation and reaching for the light. Arbutus trees thrive on rocky knolls behind the house I built, seemingly taking their nutrients from bare rock. Stretching upward, their branches reach out in what may appear to be haphazard directions. Metaphorically, the images reflect my own search for light and transcendence in my life, a search continually impelled by my art practice.
Rocks hold the earth’s origins in slow time. Drawing from memories of travels and significant life events, the rock drawings refer to the mounds of quartz crystal behind my house where arbutus grow. This grouping is called “When I gaze at a mountain, I become one myself”. Each work incorporates elemental materials – clay, dirt, charcoal, graphite and mineral pigments - gathered at home and during far away travels.
Small Sculptures are reconstituted rocks that have been shattered by forces of nature. Natural fibres – nettle, cedar bark, blackberry vines, spruce root- are used to tie them back together, to make them whole again. Even rock is fragile and can speak to the instability of physical form while plants can be sturdy and binding. Together they show how each element (stone and twine) references the other. And they have personal meaning - they reference life’s tragedies that break open our hearts but somehow, changed forever, we manage to go on and are somehow also reconstituted.
Alongside the artworks, visitors will find lots to see and touch, from necklaces made from arbutus berries to the pigments used to make the drawings, and from petrified wood to clapping sticks made from arbutus stems.
My eclectic multimedia art practice has run parallel to my academic career in outdoor education, ecology and anthropology. In both, I have drawn inspiration from Nature and from the traditional cultures in Siberia, Mongolia, India, the Arctic, and Southeast Asia, who maintain a deep spiritual connection to the natural world.
Pottery, print-making, basketry, sculpture, painting, drawing are all media I have taught and incorporated into my own art work. I have also tried to teach and to practice that all inspiration comes from what different cultures call Source, the life force, Mother Nature, Creator, or God. And that a spiritual connection to the natural world is what enlivens and gives meaning to our artistic endeavours.
I’m now retired to Salt Spring Island, where every day I am inspired by my forest garden of native plants - cedar, douglas fir, arbutus, vanilla leaf, rattlesnake plantain, chocolate lily – and enjoy ‘forest bathing’ in this beautiful sanctuary. I teach workshops on shamanism, drumming, devotional chanting, and deep ecology which inspire and inform my art practice. I am also a musician and singer/songwriter who records and performs as Em Walker with partner, Edgar Hann.
You can visit my website here.