A thunderous boom from the dynamite shack. It makes you think twice before entering.
But it’s just the echoing bark of a dog, in there with Seattle-based tile artist Kate Jessup, who has spent the last few weeks sweeping, tidying, rummaging, arranging, and pasting materials throughout the interior of this abandoned, burnt-out and mossed-over structure. One of many that sag there in the wet forest in our Northwest culture.
Installation-based work is a bit of a departure for Kate, whose pieces usually stand on their own, the aesthetic power of tile-based work inspiring reflections on the complex stories between the natural world and the materials that we humans derive from it. See Kate’s portfolio.
Here in sodden Northwest BC, there is no shortage of materials to get lost in. The dynamite shack itself – a remnant of WWII infrastructure that never saw use – sits across from a moss and brush-filled forest that grows from an old dump. In places that carpet of overgrowth scrapes and crackles to raise the hair on the back of your neck, as glass breaks from layers of bottles, emblazoned with bottling companies they’ve long outlived. And in around the shack, transformed nature abounds… wood and metal scraps and styrofoam and ceramic and plastics. Parts of cars and refrigerators, televisions to toothbrushes.
The irony slowly grows on the viewer, perhaps moreso if you’ve lived here for a while, because you’ve seen this Story before – the transformation of natural materials, the loss and growth, destruction and gain – it’s all a fundamental part of our relationship with this place.
Water, wood, stone, plants. Oil, lumber, metal, plastics.
The vernissage is unconventional… a short back road detour out behind the golf course, step carefully over the palettes laid across mudpuddles to the entrance. But there’s a good atmosphere inside, and chips and wine and milling about. Outside, a motory roar of a bike saws through the air, which is weirdly appropriate. Kate explains the process and ideas that inspired her to a group of our town’s artistic cognoscenti (gumboots de rigueur)
There’s a subtext to Kate’s installation… entitled Green to Black. Yes, it’s about that pipeline, that issue, what’s at stake. But more subtly maybe, it’s about being mindful of the changes we make in the world.
This town has seen a lot of change, growth and decline over the years, mostly having to do with this religion called natural resources. There’s little doubt – this is a legacy of which we’re all beneficiaries in some way or another. But it strikes me that this is now a matter of choice, not fate. Kate Jessup’s Green to Black is a reminder of the choices we make, the consequences we create.
And this town needs an art gallery… ‘The Dynamite Shack‘… I like the name. Any takers?
Other blogs on the wet and weird, plus radical musings…