“Coming from a Kwakiutl background, fundamental principles for stewardship of the land were of utmost importance for the determination of individual or communal conduct. This is in stark contrast to ecclesiastical ideologies, which speak of salvation for a very few… and of a Life Everlasting that will be achieved in Heaven, and not on Earth. This can sometimes lead to the idea that it doesn’t really matter what we do with the planet, as it is only a temporary construct.”
‘namaxsala is inspired by a story told to the artist, Mary Anne Barkhouse, by her grandfather Fred Cook. In the story, her grandfather helps a wolf cross a treacherous piece of water in a boat, on the West coast of Canada. “My grandfather’s stories always offered an alternative view for considering the world around me,” the artist remembers. “And so, I relate one of them here, to help negotiate cooperation with the ‘other’ and inclusion of the wild.”
Installations from the Boreal Baroque exhibition situate indigenous wildlife amongst 18th Century furnishings. By combining the wild with the opulence of colonial domestic furnishings, the work reflects on issues of sovereignty and survival in our northern environment. Hares demonstrate their obeisance to the natural order and a fox reclines on a velvet chaise with colours and textures evocative of a different kind of luxury inherent to the boreal forest.
From the echoes of trumpeting hadrosaurs traversing the valley floor to being buried under a kilometre of ice, this territory has witnessed radical change over the years. It has been home to hunter and hunted alike, be it Albertosaurus and Edmontosaurus, or coyote and hare. The plants depicted have their own history as important to both body and soul. For those that have gone before, for that which has sustained and for those that have survived, Reign pays respect to the healing and adaptive nature of the land and to the original inhabitants of this territory.