Saturday, October 19, 2013

"The Landing" recognized by NiCHE

My New Zealand grandson enjoying his first Yukon campsite. Photo: E. Neufeld
I am pleased to share the news that my art installation, The Landing, in this summer's Yukon Arts Centre show Traversing Yukon Landscapes, has won third prize in the NiCHE (Network in Canadian History & Environment) competition "Snapshots of the Field 2013." An international event, the competition addressed the ways that environmental historians do their work. I've attached an excerpt of their announcement of the winners.

First and Second went to serious projects that did lots of hard work. I split third prize with a Scandinavian woman who likes muskox. I think we got the thinking outside the box award or "we're not sure what you're talking about but it looks cool."

Claire Campbell and Graeme Wynn were the judges and offered the following remarks on the submissions.

"One of the great things about being environmental historians is that we have to reach beyond texts, beyond archives; we have to raise our gaze from our desks and our laptops and actually look at the world we study. This summer, dozens of environmental historians from around the world submitted photographs and screenshots of where their journeys had taken them, from mountain trails to coastal seashores, from museums to mining sites, from New Zealand to Germany. And with these photographs came brief but eloquent descriptions about the scholarly, and personal, experience of these places.
Our warmest thanks to all the contributors for giving us one of the more enjoyable tasks of the past few weeks. We look forward to next year’s contest ….
Choosing the “best” of these was extraordinarily difficult, because of this range but also because each was clearly so important in its own way and to its creator. (We each had lists of potential winners twice as long as the contest rules allowed.) That said, we were particularly intrigued by the following submissions:
Nicole Bauberger's paintings and my installation.  Photo: Paul Gowdie
The third prize was a tie between Dolly Jørgensen and David Neufeld, whose submissions transcend the lines between inside and outside, public and private history, humans and nature. Both ask us to consider how we communicate our knowledge and experience of the environment; how effective these means are; and what happens when we explore other types of expression. Seemingly simple single photographs are layered with meaning and given resonance by the accompanying texts, which convey highly personal reflections about encountering our scholarly work in other places."

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Paddling the Yukon River 2: Thirty Mile Heritage River

A canoe trip has its own routine. By the third day we had it it all figured out. An awakening in the cool of the morning, mist still rising from the river, get the fire going, put on the coffee, then breakfast. By now it is getting warm, time to pack up. Rolling up sleeping bags, dismantling the tent and packing all our kit - snug in the dry bag. Marie has been sorting the kitchen and we haul everything over to the river bank. The canoes are pushed into the water and loaded. Discussion of the day's route and some, well quite a few, stretches - hey we're not that young you know - and its back to paddling.
The Thirty Mile Canadian Heritage River is a lovely piece of water. We stayed at one of the campsites just beyond Lake Laberge. The shores of the lagoon behind our camp had blueberries!
Mary getting organized in the morning. You can tell she started out being organized and never lost track of the game.
Lou on the other hand managed wonderfully without any organization at all. As our senior colleague he set an example by entertaining us with his backpack full of stories and jokes. These became more colourful the further we went down river - Heart of Darkness country for sure.
Manoir Butte looms over the river ahead. This was the same site where Nicole Bauberger and I camped two years ago on the river art residency. Her painting of the butte was made from this same perspective.
Marie and Mary getting breakfast ready for the rest of the crew. Marie did an amazing job of the meals. We had an interesting and healthy array of food. Every day there were different meals and snacks, all tempting and flavourful, easily digested and easy to clean up after. And she had an incredible knack of reading the group - "Hey, I think its time for break."
Mid-afternoon we'd stop and relax. Fishing was popular, grayling were biting, but not always waiting for the pull into shore. We dined on them one evening. Not a fisher, I relaxed with a book and watched the river go by.
This summer there were many fires. In the last two days of our trip we paddled through still smoking forest.