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Artist Statement and Project Description


All gardens, formal or natural, are scale models of paradise, and the word paradise itself comes from the Persian word for an enclosed garden.

Rebecca Solnit, from Savage Dreams: A Journey into the Hidden Wars of the American West

In the summer of 2015, I participated in the artist-led residency Common Opulence in northern Alberta. The residency  involved mentorship in timber frame building construction, straw bale insulation and how to live in tune  with the land. The project  involved informal peer to peer learning, visits to organic off-the-grid farms, as well as rustic, communal living. Each artist who participated was invested in exploring an alternate way of life  that focusses on sustainability, camaraderie and working together. We  invested our time, our skills and our labour.

For me, the residency offered an additional opportunity to reflect on a few things  I've been mulling over the part few years. Namely, what is our relationship to the nature world? In the same moment we strive to categorize and control our environment,  we also seek the mystical, the sublime. The landscape bears the signs of our treks towards a concept of progress; scars and lines; edges and turns. Things left behind, to reuse or reinvent.  A place that exists between ourselves and nature. Where is the line?

Part of my contribution to the residency was to use my skill as a photographer to document the project from start to finish. I tried to capture the essence of the place, the texture of the materials that were used and the quality of life in our temporary community.

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