Here we are in week four. I just came from the gallery where I saw how beautifully David Kaye has installed the thirteen pieces for WILD TAPESTRY. The show opens tomorrow and many are expected at the Saturday’s reception. I am hoping for good weather so all can visit in comfort. Here is Margi’s final essay about Wild Tapestry: Weaving Wildlife Survival.
It’s not often a writer has the opportunity to collaborate beyond the realm of words. I love words—the thin black scratches on a sea of white paper that communicate so much. They are part of my soul, but I know their effect can be limited by the mood of the reader.
This collaboration between a visual artist and a writer is personally exciting because art and words have merged together to deepen interpretation through a wilderness of colour, texture and narrative.
While sitting at my desk overlooking an Australian landscape of golden fields and grazing kangaroos, accentuated by the warble of magpies calling their young, Susan has been developing her work in the urban landscape of downtown Toronto. Here on the shores of Lake Ontario cardinals, robins and woodpeckers nest in trees and colourful mallards glide on the lake. The species might be different, but we are connected by a shared concern for our planet and our wild kin.
Susan’s artwork has taken the theme of Wild Tapestry and given it beautiful, inspiring, physical form.
Here is Margi’s third essay concerning the future Wild Tapestry:Weaving Wildlife Survival.
As I got rather wordy last week I will not comment and let you read Margi and add more work for the show. Week three is almost over but I have been busy finishing … apologies for lateness !!
There are few relationships so closely bonded as that of human and Rangifer tarandus—caribou or reindeer. These magnificent species are native to arctic, subarctic, tundra, boreal, and mountainous regions of northern Europe, Siberia, and North America.
As summer approaches, many caribou herds of North America head north in one of the world’s great large-animal migrations. They may travel six hundred miles, or more, along ancient annual routes to a journeys end of summer feeding on the abundant tundra. When the first snow falls each year, they turn south again and complete their migration to spend the winter in more sheltered climes.
Cloistered in our cities and towns we are disconnected from the venerable bond that remains tangible and real for communities across the northern reaches of the world. Massive herds of these gentle animals have provided food, shelter, transport and a harbinger of seasonal change for generations of Saami, Nenets, Khants, Evenks, Yukaghirs, Chukchi, and Koryaks in Eurasia, First Nations of Canada, and Kalaallit of Greenland.
These peoples have followed, observed and hunted the caribou and reindeer for millennia. Caribou and reindeer are the source of inspiration, hope and belief for many still. And, in the past two or three generations they have witnessed massive changes as caribou and reindeer territories fragment and shrink in the face of industrial human growth.
The modern world has ignored the wealth of knowledge that local peoples hold about caribou, reindeer and thousands of other species across the world. It is time for their ancient, wise stories to be core to the wild tapestry of future decisions.
Here is Margi Prideaux’s second essay about her upcoming book Wild Tapestry:Weaving Wildlife Survival. I have a couple of thoughts to share before you read it.
In reading the original synopsis for Margi’s book I had no trouble supporting her point of view. The challenge has been developing visual imagery out of her ideas. My initial approach was to read her writing repeatedly and draw animals on the endangered list. This was engaging; I looked in more detail than I ever had about elephants, snow leopards, kakapo, gorillas, caribou and more. As the drawings proceeded I pondered her living tapestry vision, the weft and warp of such against the over arching realities of climate change and the problems of the existing political approach to conservation (as outlined below and further in the book). Visual ideas that I might compose about these concepts came slowly; Margi’s academic analysis is engaging but here in these two posts you see her ability to write in visual imagery. She has done both for some time but I took awhile to absorb and distinguish each. I have been sketching or doodling almost daily to see what I could do. For me the solutions are in the process. I begin with just a few lines and textures and trust the rest to come. Margi’s word phrases which I use directly in the work are my inspiration. They have assumed their own place there. I could say more here but I want you to read Margi’s next post. Also I know from listening to people respond to my work I really don’t need to talk too much – they get it.
Here is Margi followed by two artworks for the exhibit:
The fabric we are weaving now is dystopic.
From the influence and power of wealthy countries, we rake against the natural fibres of local conservation, destroying their form and texture, until they are smooth and uniform. In our determination to find solutions for diverse and complex local problems, we have been seduced into weaving with neutrality—with sameness.
This seduction has already damaged many weft strands, leaving communities and their cultural knowledge displaced.
Whole villages have been forced from their ancestral forest homes—wilderness they have harmoniously inhabited for generations. In their place armed border guards stride, paved roads snake and exclusive hotels stand. Where children once learned from their elders of the leaves and fruits and animals around them, tourists now stare from open top cars at the last surviving tiger.
Hunters once stood on the ice edge at sunrise, offering thanks to the spirit world before hunting meat for their community. Now they meet wealthy sport shooters from half a world way, who lust for blood and a polar bear trophy.
The seducer has manipulated our attention away from the real cause of the wrong. Campaigns are launched to save the last surviving golden lion tamarin funded by corporate profit procured by flooding valleys and mining sacred mountains.
We have been manipulated into muting a myriad of beautiful and diverse local solutions—forcing the colour from the threads of community relationships with caribou or kakapo; with elephants or emus; with polar bears or pythons, until all that is left is ostentatious words on a page.
Hope without substance.
“The words and art of Wild Tapestry has since been developing on two sides of the globe. While I have been writing in Australia, Susan has been developing her work in Canada, connected by a shared concern for our planet.”
Margi’s work in wildlife conservation have been the anchor for my exhibit this May at David Kaye Gallery. It has been an exciting challenge to move into a new world of imagery not unrelated to previous work but focused deliberately on an positive constructive view of conservation world wide in the face of climate change.
In the days ahead before the exhibit I will posting one essay a week by Margi outlining the concepts of her upcoming book Wild Tapestry:Weaving Wildlife Survival. Artwork for the show will accompany each post. Here is the first:
Wild Tapestry: Introduction
We have lived by an assumption that our political system will naturally evolve for the better. We were wrong. The near future now holds unprecedented environmental and political chaos. The need to arrest climate change is urgent, but our politically volatile times are incapable of taking the needed action. Our global political system is fraying at the edges, and big business is gaining more power to monetize the natural world—a convergence that consigns thousands of species to disappear from the tapestry of the earth.
Gorillas have already become an ecotourism destination and a tree is now carbon sequestration. Species with no market value are invisible. People across the world intrinsically know once wildlife is gone the place they once lived will be hollow. These are the threads we must protect.
Like a weaver sitting at an empty loom, there are many possibilities ahead. The tapestry of our future is our collective choice. We can sit, indifferent, and weave plain fabric, allowing others to dye and shape it into projects of their own making—projects that will impoverish communities and subjugate nature until we lose the last of what is precious. Or, we can design a beautifully woven tapestry that reflects the depth, texture and colour of what we want to save.
The weft already exists in activists fighting to protect water birds and wetlands from mining; herders making peace with snow leopards in the Himalaya; and people standing in the footprint of elephants that walk the plains and forests of Africa. We can choose the warp thread that empowers these local voices, even with imperfections, and weave our own wild tapestry. We can sit at the loom of survival and design our future.
Let me introduce Dr. Margi Prideaux who has been working in the field of wildlife conservation and governance law for many years. An independent academic, negotiator and writer, she is a experienced advocate for the protection of wildlife. Margi is my niece with whom I recently reconnected online whereby I began reading about her work. I have been deeply impressed with Margi’s academic depth driven by genuine passion for wildlife survival while understanding the harsh realities of international politics.
“BIRD SONG AFTER THE STORM: Giving Power to Communities to Speak for Wildlife in International Environmental Governance” is but one example of Margi’s writing articulating her vision. Here is her website where you may learn more and see for yourself.
Margi asked me to do a book cover for an upcoming book “Wild Tapestry: Weaving Wildlife Survival” about the same time I was invited to prepare an art exhibit at the David Kaye Gallery for May 2017. It seemed to me that “Wild Tapestry” held lots of potential for me as a visual artist. Margi happily surprised agreed to my suggestion of using her ideas to drive imagery for an art exhibit. It has been an exciting and challenging few months developing this new work.
Robert and I had arrived the day before with the paintings. We unpacked them to help Joan start arranging them in the gallery. Having had a good visit it was soon time to leave and let Joan finish installing which she does so well. Saturday we arrived to see how great everything looked and hopful that visitors would not be deterred by the minus 24 degree weather. They were not. I took photos in between conversations with new and old acquaintances and friends. Here are a few more pictures from the exhibit. The cold has lifted so drop by if you are in the area. Ferneyhough Contemporary is usually open Tuesdays to Saturdays 11am to 5pm or by appointment.
157 First Ave. E., North Bay, ON P1B 1J7 705-476-1534