|Momentary installations made between the tides
on the beaches of Vancouver, Victoria, and Saltspring Island.
April to October 2003
|Gesture was made on public beaches where the artwork could be seen as it was being created - and for a few hours afterwards (until the tide came up and washed it away). It was important that the work be seen on site and that I was able to speak with those who were interested in the work. Much ephemeral environmental or site-specific art is only experienced third-hand, through photographs - which lack the immediacy and impact of the real thing.
The work was created out of what was found on the
beach -- stones, shells or sand. Each temporary installation was made with an awareness of the paths and actions of people on the beach, and the shape and nature of the beach itself. The work reflected whether the beach was man-made or natural, whether it was used for recreation or contemplation. It was made to fit the place, to work with the landscape, and created with the intention of doing no harm to the environment. Little or no trace of the work could be found the next day.
The individual works took from two to fourteen hours to complete. People often asked why I would make something that wouldn’t last, so I’d mention to them that chefs make grand dinners that only last an hour, and gardeners tend flowers that bloom only once a year. The pleasure for me is the process of creating the work, and the sensibility that comes from being there.
The awareness that something exists briefly can heighten the experience. It's like the saying "life is not a dress rehearsal" – it's this very moment that needs to be savoured, there will never be another time or day like this. It's also important to me to show people what is there - the thousands and thousands of shells on the beach, the millions of pebbles, the colours of the stones, the movement of the sand.
A significant component of Gesture was the time
Spent tending and caretaking each place. I began
Each day by walking the length of the chosen beach
and picking up debris - mostly plastic bags, scrap metal,
glass shards and styrofoam. Sometimes I picked up
globs of tar, syringes and items that could be dangerous
or unhealthy for children or animals to encounter.
It felt like a healing gesture to do this.
I used this time to try to understand the beach and to
perceive what was happening there on that particular day
- the distribution of seaweed, the way the beach had been
rearranged by the tides, and how people and animals
were using it. I didn't begin to work until I was able to
gain some insight into what would be appropriate on that
beach on that particular day. That insight comes with
being there, taking time and giving full attention
to what was around me.
|This project was made possible with the support of the BC Arts Council
|ephemeral art environmental installation art experiential art organic sculpture ephemeral art outdoor installation art eco- art canadian interactive art