Peace River Screen Printing Workshop trip

After much anticipation and preparation (see “Peace River Screen Printing Project” post below), Claire and I packed up the car and drove to Fort St John on May 11 – about an eight hour trip. This is a fine time of year to drive north, not just because there’s so much daylight at our latitudes, but also because the remaining patches of snow in the northern Rockies delineate the contours of the mountains that tower over the Pine Pass in their undulating folds.

We don’t drive as fast as Google.

Verena Hofmann welcomed us to the Treaty 8 Tribal Association building in FSJ upon our arrival and helped us unpack. The T8TA building has wonderful spaces for meetings and we set up in the back where we could access water, as well as the back parking lot for sunlight photostencil exposures. We were honoured to be able to hold the workshop there and very appreciative of T8TA’s support, as well as Verena’s organizing assistance.

In addition, we were given permission to stay at the Tse’K’wa house above the cave at Charlie Lake. It was an enormous privilege to stay in this very special, significant place. To see the cave is a powerful experience and we’re grateful to have had that opportunity.

We had a small, but enthusiastic and extremely productive group in the workshop, with various friends dropping in over the course of the weekend. On the Saturday, we explored hand-cut and torn wax paper stencils, simple registration systems, printing gradients, and then coated screens with photoemulsion so they could dry in a dark closet overnight.

On Sunday morning, the weather was still perfect for exposing these in sunlight outside the back door. The first exposures took about 12 minutes, but we shortened that gradually to 8 minutes as the day progressed. At one point we were able to test three kinds of film positives: a retouched photocopy on acetate, hand-cut rubylith film & hand-painted Fotostrip masking fluid. The weekend went by very quickly and the participants gave some really helpful feedback and ideas for ways to improve on it if we have the chance to do another. Thanks again to Verena and T8TA for hosting and helping to organize the weekend, to Matt, Donna and Claire for their participation, and to Nathalie and Reg for dropping in!

Sunlight exposure with 3 kinds of film positives.

Screens post-exposure hardening in the sun.

Once we finished packing up, we drove 15 minutes south to Arlene and Ken Boon’s farm at Bear Flat on the Peace River where they generously treated us to a lovely supper, breakfast, overnight cabin stay, and tour of their land and buildings. We hadn’t realized they had worked in the log building business, so having a chance to see some of their handiwork – especially their creative renovations and reconstructions – was inspiring. Their museum houses many precious items, including a photograph of a horse-drawn plane for planing logs into timbers. We didn’t take any photos inside; you have to go there to see it!

Arlene and Ken were planting corn when we left – a crop not possible to grow in many places north of Quesnel! From Bear Flat we drove back through FSJ and east of Pouce Coupe to Demmit, just inside Alberta to visit Teresa and Peter von Tiesenhausen. Just as we arrived, they plugged in a brand new 10 KW array of solar panels on a new timber frame structure. Very exciting to watch their electrical meter start to go backwards!

Teresa kindly took us on a tour of the Demmit Community Hall. She and Peter were instrumental in the planning, fundraising and construction of this beautiful timber frame & straw bale building. An inspiring, successful project on every level.

From Demmit we made our way back to Gundy for an overnight visit with Verna Savor and Rick Broswick who moved there several years ago from Wells. It was a pleasure to catch up with them as well as enjoy their usual big-hearted hospitality.

After a short pit stop in Dawson Creek, a visit to the art gallery and a short chat with the Curator, Kit Fast, we were back on the road in time to return to Wells at sundown. In our last hour on Highway 26, we saw five black bears and one porcupine – a beautiful ending to a wonderful trip.

Special thanks to our many friends and Chuffed donors without whose support we could not have held the workshop or made the trip!

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Into the fire and ash

Once in a while a shuffling music playlist will randomly select just the right song for that  particular time and place. While driving north yesterday from Williams Lake on the Old Soda Creek Road towards the Rudy Johnson Bridge across the Fraser River, I entered one of the intense burn zones from the summer’s extensive fires just as Sarah McLachlan started singing, “Into the Fire“. (without the video!)

Burnt trees & roots

Burnt trees and roots near Soda Creek, BC.

Burnt tree roots

Burned out tree roots near Soda Creek, BC.

I encountered many stark, poignant and haunting views. Some charred, vaporized tree roots looked like dinosaur footprints left as they fled a shield volcano millions of years ago. If I was Harold Rhenisch, I might write a poem!

When I reached Mackin Creek Farm on the west side of the Fraser, north of the bridge, Cathie Allen was hard at work gathering the last of their cabbages, broccoli and cauliflowers before a heavy frost was to arrive that night. After many years of enjoying the wonderful vegetables she and Rob Borsato produce, I was glad to finally visit this beautiful place. And buy some food for the winter!

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Cathie Allen works another row before frost sets in at Mackin Creek Farm.

For those who live outside the Cariboo-Chilcotin region of BC, here are some maps:

Here are some of the burnt needles that fell on our metal roofing in the summer. I wonder if some came from the Soda Creek area?

Burnt needles

Burnt needles

For some very powerful images from the summer’s fires, see some of the recent newsletters by photographer Chris Harris and the Facebook photo albums of Jesaja Class.

Under the Field

After bringing the field of yellow mini-stakes back from the Far Afield exhibition at Omineca Arts Centre (see the previous two posts), and after having it on display with “Reservoir” at Amazing Space Gallery here in Wells through the summer, it was time to dismantle it. The dried, unfired terracotta clay can be reused one day. I can cover the canvas board framed in reclaimed fir with fresh clay if the opportunity arises again to replant the stakes and add more to the many voices resisting the Site C dam on the Peace River. It can have another life.

Pulling up the stakes revealed a lovely pattern left by the donors and other contributors when they pressed their stakes into the wet clay, as well as the cracks formed by the clay as it dried.

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Dried terracotta field beneath “Stakes in the Peace”.

Removing the chunks of dried clay from the supporting canvas board revealed yet another pattern, this time similar to a watershed.

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Under the dried field; terracotta on canvas.

Scraping and rinsing the remaining clay exposed a subterranean drainage pattern.

Stake in the Peace - under the dried field

Under the dried field; terracotta on canvas with fir frame; 48″ x 16″.

Stake in the Peace - under the dried field

Under the dried field (detail).

Stake in the Peace - under the dried field

Under the dried field (detail).

To keep up to date on efforts to stop the Site C dam, see this Facebook page (one of  several), Sierra Club’s site, or follow Desmog‘s investigative reporting on this and other issues. And the stakeinthepeace campaign.
To learn about the BC Utilities Commission hearings on Site C, to attend a hearing or to make a submission, see their site here.

Reservoir

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“Reservoir” as seen from above. Cast resin, silkscreened mylar; painted canvas courtesy of Claire Kujundzic. Base approximately 22” x 18”. Photo courtesy of Denis Gutiérrez-Ogrinc.

Like the “Stakes in the Peace” terracotta field with screen printed stakes in the group exhibition Disturbances in the Field  (at the Omineca Arts Centre), “Reservoir” deals with the Site C. Since BC Hydro’s proposed dam lies within Treaty 8 territory – a treaty signed in 1899 – I visualized the reservoir submerging the treaty. So I screen printed a two page layout of the text of Treaty 8 on mylar, then cast it in resin in a clay mold shaped like BC Hydro’s renderings, with a small corner of the treaty remaining above the surface of the reservoir to represent my hope that we can still stop this project.

On the sides of the acrylic stand are Cree and Dane-zaa words for the Peace River, in tribute to the strength of these cultures and the power of their languages. And as a reminder that we are all treaty people, as our friends in the valley have patiently explained. Claire gave me a piece of painted canvas to place under the resin to catch light and colour – another element of hope to balance the daunting challenge we face.

 

Plant your own mini-stake in the Peace

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Forest of stakes outside the Boons’ farm; photo courtesy of Darcy Shawchek.

The Stakes in the Peace campaign began when I heard that BC Hydro was drilling on Ken and Arlene Boon’s property in preparation for the Site C dam on the Peace River. Most of this work was way ahead of schedule and unnecessary; a form of bullying leaders of the resistance to Site C. I thought, if they Boons are getting drilled, we can pound a stake outside our house, too. So Claire and I pounded a yellow stake into the ground, then posted a photo.

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Claire & I pounding in our first stake in solidarity with the Boons last summer outside our place in Wells, BC.

Wendy Holm and others took this idea and transformed it into a brilliant solidarity campaign in which people (singly or in groups) could pay $100 to have their name on a yellow stake outside the Boons. It took off, and now there are over 600 stakes forming a forest of solidarity which has raised over $60,000 towards legal costs for resistance to Site C.

In the group exhibition Disturbances in the Field  (the inaugural exhibition at the Omineca Arts Centre, ) I have made two pieces about Site C, one of which is a 15″ x 48″ terracotta version of the real field, plus seven inch tall yellow stakes, all hand silkscreened with stakeinthepeace.com and various anti-Site C hashtags. I’ve made about 600 stakes 😉

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All the stakes had stakeinthepeace.com on one side, with Cree, Dane-zaa or various hashtags on the other side.

At the opening on Friday, May 12, I began inserting the stakes (short video here). People attending had the opportunity to put their own stake in the Peace for a minimum donation of $5 (all funds will go to the stakeinthepeace.com campaign). For anyone outside Prince George who’d like to participate, they can contribute via the PayPal button below.

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Slab of terracotta to simulate the field at the Boons – ready for staking out! Photo courtesy of Caitlin Chaisson.

Stakes on Saturday088

“Stakes in the Peace” (silkscreened wood, terracotta, reclaimed fir; approximately 48” x 16”) after the opening night.

In the course of the exhibition, we raised enough money to pay for six actual stakes at the Boons, thanks to the contributions of many generous people.

The clay has now hardened and dried, so it’s no longer possible to insert mini-stakes in the “field”. But it will still be possible for people in the Prince George area to buy stakes to take home to plant in their own gardens, potted plants, cactus gardens, terrariums, etc. (If you live outside Prince George, feel free to contact me through the “About & Contact” page on this site; I might be able to mail you a stake or two 😉

We have set a minimum suggested donation via PayPal @ $5.00 btn_donate_SM

(PayPal will display Amazing Space Studio & Gallery ~ William Horne ~ Reference: Stake in the Peace donation.)

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Mini-stakes return home; terracotta has dried and cracked.

Thanks to: Caitlin Chaisson, Curator, for her enthusiasm and support; Denis Gutiérrez-Ogrinc for photodocumentation; John Howarth for plinth construction; Khast’an drummers for performing at the opening & Kym Gouchie for welcoming all to Lheidli T’enneh territory; Claire Kujundzic for all-round support, including technical; Denise Dauvin for hospitality; Randy Hadland for feedback; Yvonne Tupper for the hashtags; Art Napoleon for the Cree translation; Verena Hofmann and Treaty 8 for the Dane-zaa translation; the peoples of the Peace for their courage and persistence in the face of adversity.

Online donors:
Anne Kelly, Rita Neighbor, Holly & Julie (Vancouver), RanD Hadland, Elizabeth & Aashima Mathias, Gail Noonan, Colette Chisholm in memory of Joe A Chisholm, Jennifer Iredale, Caitlin Chaisson. Thanks, everyone!

The Far Afield blog:
Curator Caitlin Chaisson has posted photos, thoughts and observations online. Here are two posts about the mini-stakes, here and here. Thank-you, Caitlin 😉

 

Claire’s Collograph Workshop

Claire has extensive experience with presses and traditional printmaking processes, so she offered a Collograph workshop during our time in Tolosa. Collography is the low-tech cousin of etching, with cardboard or matte board plates, leaves, feathers, string, sand and other materials that create printable textures. Typically we ink the plates with a roller, then rub off the excess ink with a rag so that we can print the ink remaining in cracks, hollows and scratches in the plates. Usually a thin residue of ink will persist on the flat areas of the plate, which results in a thin unifying grey throughout the print.

Garikoitz made arrangements to do the workshop in the ceramics studio upstairs in Tolosa’s Casa de Cultura – Kultur Etxea (Culture House) where a small press was available, and designed another beautiful, bilingual poster:

pantallas-solClaire only had one participant, Gurutze, an aspiring landscape and garden designer, but I assisted and the three of us did a lot of printing and had many good laughs.

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Claire & Gurutze preparing plates.

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Gurutze & Claire laughing & working on their plates.

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A few plates and test prints.

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Placing an inked plate on paper in the press with blankets.

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International collography team; Garikoitz C. Murua Fierro photo.

Here are some short video clips from the workshop:

Gurutze printing #1 – onto paper.
Gurutze printing #2 – onto fabric.
Gurutze printing #3 – with leaves.
Claire inking plates.