The Geography of Home and My Obsession With the Notion of Place

Presently reading, Geography of Home: writings on where we live by Akiko Busch and have always had quite a thing for thinking about space/place/where I live.  At this very moment, I am rearranging/sorting/cleaning out the studio.  The weather can only be described as  ‘autumn’ here in Calgary, so this is the perfect time!  I found this photo reference in a box in the studio…a photo of Angel Glacier up Edith Cavell-way back in 2004.  Now, there’s a place that, even as I think about it, gives me chills.  It is such a mystical experience to do the alpine hike and to hear huge chunks of the glacier crash down into the milky green water below.

At the same time as thinking about this place, I move my painting of Angel Glacier onto my back deck, as I sort and stack.  There it is leaning against the bench, beside a snow shovel.  It is an interesting thing how paintings attempt to give some impression of PLACE, but can only succeed to a point.  Landscape paintings, I think, are about inheritance and about leaving future generations with some sense of how beautiful our world is/was.  At least, this was something really on my mind as I approached landscape painting.  Who knows.  I first thought about this when the protagonist, Morag, of Margaret Laurence’s The Diviners explained to her metis daughter, Piquette, what a buffalo was.  It’s interesting, but from one generation to the next, something is lost.  I think artists of all kinds, try to capture a bit of the sense of ‘the dance’ once the audience goes home.  I love typewriters and old records for just this reason.  They remind me of another place, as much as another time.

The Upside to Being Ousted

It is good to have my paintings come home to me. This is truly the upside of down! When paintings DO return, I am able to look at them with fresh eyes and really enjoy them.  This particular painting has not yet been professionally photographed, but it is such an important piece to me, I thought I would feature it here!  The painting was inspired by two very special people; one, a poet named Paulette Dube who lives in Jasper and the other, a gent who uses film as his medium, Cam Koerselman.  You can enjoy some of his work on Vimeo.

Paulette gave me permission to embed her words into this painting.  I cried in the dark, while she gave her reading of these very words while Cam’s film rolled during the Caribou Blues festival two years ago.

Paulette’s words…as a response to my request of her words, were these…

You could “sail through an army of angels and not notice anything more than a mere freshening of the air.” (Thank you Ms. Lessing.)

Kathleen, well, right off let me tell you two things.  I went for a walk today and I dreamed that my work would grow legs and walk into someone’s life.  Looks like it is yours.  Next, I opened the jpg and saw the elephant and the number 5.  Elephants and me, well, I love them, and the number 5 is truth.  So, long story short, of course I will send you the text I made for the Caribou piece.  And I will do that after supper – right now, my sauce is boiling.  Wanted you to know that I am honoured to send you the little bit I have to offer right now.

Thank you,



The text embedded in the piece are, as she describes…a bastardation of works collected from, First Mountain, Thistledown Press, 2007, Gaits, Thistledown Press, 2010 and scenes written for the event.  All rights reserved by author:  Paulette Dube

Cropped: Paulette’s Words Take Flight

Detail: Atmospheric Environment inspired by Cam Koerselman

Huge  ‘magic’ led me to Ellen McIlwaine and her music as she played for the Caribou Blues festival that same weekend.  The first caribou piece was featured on the information publication for Parks Canada because of Ellen’s recommendation and for that I will always be grateful.

Porqupine Herd