Since starting the book, I was interested by the contrast the book created between concepts that would be considered at odds, or even opposites, like life and death, ocean and the forest, light and dark. However, the dichotomy that stood out most to me was that between the urban world and the natural world. I thought that this theme was explored a lot more explicitly in the book from a wider variety of perspectives. I liked that this theme was explored through the perspective of European traders and settlers, First Nations peoples, the logging industry, the British Columbian economy, the environmental impacts, and through the perspective of Grant Hadwin. This theme really stood out to me, as it did to many others, and I was very excited to start this project with this idea in mind.
I wanted to show the dichotomy between the natural world and the urban world. At first, I was unsure about how to do this, but I knew that I wanted to step out of my comfort zone and do something that was artistic, symbolic, and less traditionally analytical. This decision to push my boundaries, and forced me to think for some time about how I could to show my ideas physically. Showing my ideas in a physical medium is not something that I am used to, so it took me a lot of time to figure out how I could show my ideas, and to learn how to properly achieve the techniques I wanted to showcase.
One day Mr. Jackson left an old aerial picture of Coquitlam on the table, and I became very intrigued by it; this photograph gave me some inspiration. I found a few more similar pictures with the help of Mr. Jackson, and decided to use the two photographs as my medium and to show the dichotomy between the natural world and the urban world through those pictures.
I struggled for a long time about how to show the urban world and how to show the natural world, but decided in the end on mediums that I was relatively familiar in working with in other contexts. Yet, it still took me some time to learn how to sew through the picture and how to create textures with paint on the photo paper. However, I am glad that I took my time to learn how to properly do the techniques because I think that they turned out well on the good copies.
The two pieces are meant to go together to show the relationship between the natural and urban world. I will now do a piece by piece explanation of the pictures.
Picture 1: The green paint is meant to represent the nature, and I wanted to show with the paint how powerful the forest can be even when it is tamed, and how different the forest looks in contrast to the surrounding urban development. I tried to create some depth of colour and texture to show that the forest varies a lot where as urban development looks similar across the world. The part of the book when Grant Hadwin begins to get upset about the ways of the logging industry inspired me to do this piece. Looking at the pictures of Coquitlam reminded me how close to home the issue of deforestation is.
Picture 2: I strung yellow string across the second picture where there were urban environments to show how linear and unnatural urban areas look in comparison with the curving land and bodies of water surrounding it. I chose yellow because the Golden Spruce meant a lot to the Haida people, and it symbolized the sacred relationship between nature and humans. I thought that yellow would show the relationship between the urban environment and nature; the urban environment was created on top of the natural environment with materials from the natural environment; the natural environment was used to create the urban environment, but was disregarded afterwards. I also wanted to almost create a cage-like look with the string, to show how the urban environment can imprison the natural potential of an area.
With both images, I really liked that they depicted areas that are familiar to me. It made me think on a deeper level about these themes in the context of my community. I really enjoyed pushing myself during this project to show my ideas in a new way. I really enjoyed doing this project, and I was so happy to see the projects of others! Everyone was so creative, thoughtful, and everyone had such unique ways of expressing their ideas, so good job everyone!