Land Above and Below: The Escarpment
The Ontario landscape is big, bold, old, and greener than the prairie landscape I was inspired by in my earlier clay studio work. I wanted to work on a series to explore this environment.
I created textured and evocative wall pieces based on the Niagara Escarpment, the cornerstone of the greenbelt in Ontario. They reimagine the 450 million year old geology of this area as it has evolved into a landscape rich in biodiversity, sculpted by time and water. I have depicted them with images of new cells in contrast with neighbouring fossils which surface on the ancient rocks through erosion. The cells are shiny, new, and complex yet they lay on a background of imprinted, fragmented, aged rock spotted with vegetation.
In 1990, the Niagara Escarpment was designated a UNESCO World Biosphere. The Niagara Escarpment, or “The Bluffs”, are home to Canada’s longest foot trail, the Bruce Trail. Hiking the Bruce Trail has been on my list of things to do for years.
I am a consumer of parks, trails and vistas. My wall pieces in this escarpment series are presented as ‘slices’ of the escarpment, in the shape of boxes. Much as one might buy cereal in a local big box food store. As a consumer buying cereal, one would expect the product to be the same in every box but as a consumer of our parks and trails, the experience is much different. Each piece starts in the same way with a flattened piece of clay in a box shaped plaster mold. But each ‘consumer box’ comes to represent a small slice of a landscape rich in biodiversity, home to hundreds of at risk species, a vital watershed, and an ancient geological history.
When I was a child we camped based on the old adage, ‘take nothing but memories, leave nothing but footsteps’. My pieces are meant to be part of that tradition. I impress memory and meaning into clay which is a material as old as The Bluffs themselves.