Author Archives: Tara

Murphy, Kevin


August 13 – September 18, 2015
ODD Gallery

Opening Night: Thursday, August 13
Artist talk at 7PM in the KIAC Ballroom | Gallery Reception to follow


In 1955, the Quaker Oats Company launched the Klondike Big Inch Land Co. promotion. Accompanying boxes of puffed cereal, consumers received elaborate and apparently official deeds to one square inch of land subdivided from a plot outside of Dawson City. Capitalizing on romanticized notions of the North at the turn of the century, the promotion was a tie-in to Quakerʼs sponsored television show Sergeant Preston of the Yukon, and explicitly framed the titles in the context of the Klondike Gold Rush. Slogans such as “Get Free Gold Rush Land Today!” were wildly successful in capturing children’s imaginations and encouraging cereal sales. 21 million deeds were drawn up and rapidly claimed in a strange echo of the earlier rush.

More valuable than other cereal prizes, many of the deeds were saved through the years. However, they were never intended to have real property value. Quaker had considered the cost of so many land transfers unfeasible, and none were ever registered. To make matters worse, in 1965 the land was repossessed for non-payment of $37.20 in taxes. Over the last 60 years, generations of deed holders who didn’t read the fine print have contacted various administrative bodies, only to be redirected to Quaker and subsequently disappointed. The response from Quakerʼs legal department was that, “the real value of the deeds was based on the romantic appeal of being a property owner in the Great Yukon Territory rather than on any intrinsic value of a one-inch square of property.”[1]

Plotting the lots on today's survey plans (detail)

Plotting the lots on today’s survey plans (detail)

So the land was real land, but was never truly intended to exist anywhere except as an idea in the consumerʼs mind. This confusion, and the tension between the various partiesʼ expectations, nicely opens up the complicated relationship between land and landscape- between a physical place and the accumulated human and social lenses through which we view it.

Now fully detached from the land that they signify, Klondike Big Inch deeds are readily available for sale online. Revisiting this bizarre property and settlement microcosm, I have been collecting these deeds for the last year. While in Dawson, my project has involved locating each corresponding one-inch land parcel using survey plans and GPS. Using the physical deeds themselves as the material for tiny paper sculptures, I have built camps, homesteads, claims, and the various other built objects and environments of this second imaginary Gold Rush. Photographed on their respective lots, the scale of the resulting landscapes is confused, allowing the sculptures to become models for larger potential sites. In the end, I see the exhibited project as a complementary paradox: the imagined space of the deed finally made real by its location and documentation, and the real space of the land made imaginary- transformed into model, picture, and landscape.

[1] Quoted in Arthur F. Marquette, Brands, Trademarks and Good Will: The Story of the Quaker Oats Company (New York: McGraw Hill, 1967) 121.



KEVIN MICHAEL MURPHY is a Vancouver-based artist working primarily in three dimensions, using a variety of materials, often in combination with pre-existing systems, cycles, or organisms. From his contemporary urban perspective, and against a backdrop of growing environmental crises, Murphy explores the ways that humans interact with the living world around them in material, economic, and imaginative terms.

Murphy received his BFA from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver in 2009, and went on to work there for a number of years as UBC’s Drawing, Painting & Sculpture Technician. Past projects have included Atlantean Timepiece for UNIT/PITT Projects’ What Future series, and New Xanadu at the UBC Botanical Garden and Centre for Plant Research. This September he will begin his MFA at the University of Guelph.



The Natural & The Manufactured 2015

Klondike Institute of Art & Culture
Dawson City, Yukon, Canada

August 13 – September 18, 2015


Gallery Installation
Artist Talk: Thursday, August 13, 7PM, KIAC Ballroom
Gallery Reception to follow


Outdoor Site-specific Installation (Midnight Dome)
Artist Talk: Thursday, August 13, 7PM, KIAC Ballroom
Reception & free shuttle to Midnight Dome to follow

Scheduled shuttles to the Midnight Dome will provided by Husky Bus during Discovery Days weekend (August 14 – 16). Visit the gallery for more info.


Friday, August 14th, 7 PM in the KIAC Ballroom



The Natural & the Manufactured post-exhibition essay



Conversation with Terrance Houle, Dylan Miner, David Garneau

with Terrance Houle, Dylan Miner and David Garneau

Photo by Michael Maclean

Photo by Michael Maclean

Sunday, August 17th at Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre
Doors at 2:00 PM, discussion begins at 2:15 PM


Using the ODD Gallery’s ongoing exhibition series the Natural & the Manufactured as their starting point, internationally recognized Indigenous artists Terrance Houle (Kainai/Ojibwe), Dylan Miner (Metis), and David Garneau (Metis) discuss the state of Indigenous contemporary art in relationship to their own artistic practices.

Garneau, David


sm“Entrancing Bird.” Oil and acrylic on canvas. 122 x 152cm. 2006

Friday, August 15, 7:30 PM in the KIAC Ballroom

This philosophical, poetic, and occasionally humorous, illustrated artist talk considers wild life art as the anthropomorphic expression of our desire for family and freedom; roadkill as spiritual objects; the ditch as a site of existential and spatial anxiety; and how the Métis experience shapes the Plains landscape.


DAVID GARNEAU is Associate Professor of Visual Arts at the University of Regina. He was born and raised in Edmonton, received most of his post secondary education (BFA Painting and Drawing, MA American Literature) at the University of Calgary and taught at the Alberta College of Art and Design for five years before moving to Regina in 1999.

Garneau’s practice includes painting, drawing, curation and critical writing. His solo exhibition, Cowboys and Indians (and Métis?), toured Canada (2003-7) and Road Kill toured twenty one centers throughout Saskatchewan (2009-11). He is most interested in the collision of nature and culture, metaphysics and materialism, and in contemporary Indigenous identities. His paintings are collected by The Canadian Museum of Civilization; Parliament Buildings; Indian and Inuit Art Collection; The Mackenzie Art Gallery; Mendel Art Gallery; Dunlop Art Gallery; The Glenbow Museum; NONAM, Zurich; Musée de la civilisation, Québec City; City of Calgary; the SaskArts Board; Alberta Foundation for the Arts; Paul Martin foundation; and are in many other public and private collections.

He has curated several large group exhibitions: The End of the World (as we know it); Picture Windows: New Abstraction; Transcendent Squares; Contested Histories; Making it Like a Man!, Graphic Visions, TEXTiles; two person exhibitions: Sophisticated Folk; Reveal/Conceal, and solo shows: Diana Thorneycroft, Tim Moore. Garneau has written numerous catalogue essays and reviews and was a co-founder and co-editor of Artichoke and Cameo magazines. He has recently given talks in Melbourne, Adelaide, New York, San Diego, Sacramento, Saskatoon, and keynote lectures in Sydney, Toronto, Edmonton and Sault Ste Marie. Garneau is currently working on curatorial and writing projects featuring contemporary Indigenous art and curatorial exchanges between Canada and Australia, and is part of a five-year, SSHRC funded curatorial research project, “Creative Conciliation.”




Miner, Dylan



Dylan Miner, Michif Michin, 2014, photo by Janice Cliff


Dylan Miner, Michif Michin (installation), 2014, photo by Janice Cliff


Dylan Miner, The Elders Say We Don't Visit Anymore (performance), 2014, photo by Nate Jones


August 14 – September 19, 2014
Opening Night: Thursday, August 14
Artist talk at 7:30PM in the KIAC Ballroom | Reception to follow

This new body of work will investigate Métis medicine. As the descendent of Métis from across the subarctic and boreal forests to the prairies and Great Lakes, I am intimately interested in the physical and spiritual capabilities of Indigenous medicines. Recent events, including the #idlenomore movements, the Daniels’ Decision (and Canada’s legal battle against this decision), and the land claim decision in favor of the Manitoba Métis Federation, have reinvigorated our
society’s desire to look at various healing practices. This projects does exactly that.

Since, my great-grandmother was known for her ability to make healing salves (as well as for her beadwork and oatmeal cookies), I have a familial relationship to Métis medicine and its ability to heal. Michin – Michif, as this project is called, uses traditional plants as its starting point. From this initial moment of creation, I think of healing in complex and multidimensional ways. The title of this project plays on the linguistic similarities between the Métis word for medicine (michif) and the word we use to describe our language and ourselves (Michif).
Accordingly, I will focus extensively on language and herbal remedies as the core to community healing.

The Elders Say We Don’t Visit Anymore, Tea and Conversation with Dylan Miner
Friday & Saturday, August 15 &16, 2:00 – 4:00 PM in the gallery

Ongoing Tea and Conversation
Tuesday – Friday 10am – 5pm & Saturdays 1 – 5pm in the gallery


DYLAN MINER (Métis) is Associate Professor at Michigan State University, where he coordinates a new Indigenous Contemporary Art Initiative. He holds a PhD from the University of New Mexico and has published more than fifty journal articles, book chapters, critical essays and encyclopedia entries. In 2010, he was awarded an Artist Leadership Fellowship from the National Museum of the American Indian (Smithsonian Institution). Since 2010, he has been featured in thirteen solo exhibitions and been artist-in-residence at institutions such as the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, École supérieure des beaux-arts in Nantes and Santa Fe Art Institute. His work has been the subject of articles in publications including ARTnews, Indian Country Today, First American Art Magazine, The Globe and Mail, The Guardian and Chicago Sun-Times. Miner is descended from the Miner-Brissette-L’Hirondelle-Kennedy families with ancestral ties to Indigenous communities in the Great Lakes, Prairies and subarctic regions.


Houle, Terrance

TERRANCE HOULEFRIEND OR FOE #5 (Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, Dawson City)

August 14 – September 19, 2014
Opening Night: Thursday, August 14
Artist talk at 7:30PM in the KIAC Ballroom | Reception to follow

Friend or Foe
is an ongoing performance/ installation series spanning across the Americas, using Native American Sign Language & Signals to communicate personal/general stories, history, time travel, myths, legends, life and diverse points of view. Houle will be creating a performance installation using local environments, buildings, historical and local sites with the help of participants from the area. The final product will be a walking hiking tour to significant places to enact stories told by the local, historical, traditional indigenous people of the area. This piece will connect with the other series that have been created in South America, Quebec, Alberta, Ontario, & British Columbia.

Friend or Foe Projections by Terrance Houle
Thursday – Sunday, August 14 – 17, beginning at 7:00 PM at the Macaulay House

Friend or Foe Walking Tour / Performance with Terrance Houle
Saturday & Sunday, August 15 & 16, 4:00 PM (meet at the ODD Gallery)

Video and map for outdoor installations available in the gallery


TERRANCE HOULE is an internationally recognized interdisciplinary media artist and a member  of the Blood Tribe. Involved with Aboriginal communities all his life, he has traveled to reservations throughout North America participating in Powwow dancing along with his native ceremonies. Houle utilizes at his discretion performance, photography, video/film, music and painting. Likewise Houle’s practice includes tools of mass dissemination such as billboards and vinyl bus signage.

A graduate of the Alberta College of Art and Design, Terrance Houle received his B.F.A in 2003. His groundbreaking art quickly garnered him significant accolades and opportunities, including the 2003 invitation to participate in the Thematic Residency at the Banff Centre for the Arts in. This Residency focused on 34 international indigenous people exploring issues of colonization and communion. Houle received the 2006 Enbridge Emerging Artist Award presented at the Mayors Luncheon for the Arts, City Of Calgary. After receiving many screenings of his short video/film work at the Toronto 2004 ImagineNATIVE Film Festival, Houle was awarded winner of Best Experimental Film. His work has been exhibited across Canada, Parts of the United States, Australia, Europe and England.

Recently, Terrance Houle’s work was represented in his first “Major Solo Exhibition” GIVN’R opening at PLUG-IN Institute for Contemporary Art in Winnipeg, Manitoba, GIVN”R is a small retro exhibition of Terrance’s works in film, video, performance, installation, mixed media, and photography between 2003-2009.

Terrance Houle lives and maintains his art practice and is a founding member of Indigeneity Artist Collective Society.

Judd, Alison


July 3 – August 1, 2014
Opening Night: Thursday, July 3rd
Artist talk at 7:30PM in the KIAC Ballroom | Reception to follow

Alison Judd is an artist working in printmaking and installation. Her work makes evident her ruminations on transience, impermanence, loss and landscape as she thinks about time, the distance between individuals and the erosion of our relationship with the environment.

The Moosehide Slide is evidence of a landslide that serves as a backdrop to daily life in Dawson City. It is an ancient landslide that the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in call “Ëddhä dädhëcha”, which literally means “weathered moosehide hanging”.

In the gallery installation Living with a Landslide, Alison Judd has brought the landslide into town and into the gallery. Working with handmade and Japanese papers she has ‘collected’ the rocks by walking to the slide daily and taking paper castings. The artist is interested in this place where the sudden movement of the earth is evident because it allows exploration of time and its implication for both our personal and natural ecologies.

Working slowly, repetitively with her hands and body are important aspects of the work. “I need to think slowly and use repetition as a tool to understand change. It is the slow accretion of construction and insight that subsequent elements impose on me – not I on them”.

Alison Judd
is a Guelph based artist. She earned a diploma from Ontario College of Art & Design in Toronto, a BFA from Concordia University in Montreal, and obtained my Masters of Fine Art at York University in Toronto.

She teaches printmaking at the Ontario College of Art & Design University (OCADU) and at the University of Guelph.


The Natural & The Manufactured 2014

Klondike Institute of Art & Culture
Dawson City, Yukon, Canada


July 3 – August 1, 2014

Alison Judd | Living with a Landslide
Gallery Installation
Artist Talk: Thursday, July 3, 7:30pm, ODD Gallery
Reception to follow


August 14 – September 19, 2014

Gallery Installation
Artist Talk: Thursday, August 14, 7:30pm, ODD Gallery
Reception to follow

The Elders Say We Don’t Visit Anymore, Tea and Conversation with Dylan Miner
Friday & Saturday, August 15 &16, 2:00 – 4:00 PM in the gallery

Ongoing Tea and Conversation
Tuesday – Friday 10am – 5pm & Saturdays 1 – 5pm in the gallery

Terrance Houle | Friend or Foe #5 (Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, Dawson City)
Outdoor Site-specific Installation
Artist Talk: Thursday, August 14, 7:30pm, ODD Gallery
Reception to follow

Friend or Foe Projections by Terrance Houle
Thursday – Sunday, August 14 – 17, beginning at 7:00 PM at the Macaulay House

Friend or Foe Walking Tour / Performance with Terrance Houle
Saturday & Sunday, August 15 & 16, 4:00 PM (meet at the ODD Gallery)


David Garneau | Road Kill Wild-Life Art and Métis Imagination:
An Illustrated Artist Talk
Friday, August 15th, 7:30 PM in the KIAC Ballroom

A Conversation on Contemporary Indigenous Art
with Terrance Houle, Dylan Miner and David Garneau
Sunday, August 17th, 2:00PM at Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre


Post Exhibition Essay by David Garneau





August 15 to September 20, 2013

Klondike Institute of Art & Culture
Dawson City, Yukon, Canada


griffin01 Paul Griffin | Welcome Stranger

Gallery Installation
Artist Talk: Thursday, August 15, 7pm, KIAC Ballroom
Reception to follow in the ODD Gallery

fuller02 Sarah Fuller | The Homecoming

Outdoor Site-specific Installation
Artist Talk: Thursday, August 15, 7pm, KIAC Ballroom
Arts Festival Installation Walk: Thursday, August 15, 10pm


Reiffel Bird Sanctuary, March 1996


Robert Bringhurst | The Facts will Form a Poem in Your Minds


The Natural and Manufactured lecture:
Saturday, August 17  |  7pm in the KIAC Ballroom



fuller01 Meg Walker | If We Could Bottle Light
The Natural & the Manufactured post-exhibition essay

N+Mbrochure2013 (PDF)

The Natural & The Manufactured is a unique thematic project jointly organized by the ODD Gallery and the Artist in Residence Program at the Klondike Institute of Art & Culture. Conceived as a speculative research and presentation forum, the N&M looks to the myriad ways in which we both influence and are influenced by our natural and constructed environments.

Through a rich program of exhibitions, installations, actions, lectures and essays, The Natural & The Manufactured endeavours to engage both artists and audiences in a re-examination of the cultural, physical and economic values imposed on the environment. This project seeks to explore alternative political, social and aesthetic agendas and strategies towards a reinterpretation and new understanding of our relationship to the environment and our social infrastructure: the indelible ways in which our natural landscapes influence, inspire and sustain us, and conversely the ways in which our perceptions of- and actions upon- these landscapes directly impact the environment itself.

Canada-Council-Logo-300x68   yukon tour-culture_black

Walker, Meg

N&M 2013  |  post-exhibition essay 

If we could bottle light

Meg Walker


Surprises make a child of us: here is another. A moon rising, edge so sharp you can feel it in your back teeth. … Unexpectedness moves us along. And the moon – so perfectly charted – never fails to surprise us. I wonder why. The moon makes a traveler hunger for something bitter in the world, what is it? I will vanish; others will come here, what is that? An old question. 

– Anne Carson


Imagine the things we could share if we could capture light. Not just the imprints and effects of light, but light itself: the physical, moving thing that touches the surfaces of phenomenon around us and lets us understand at least something with our eyes before we touch with our skin. If we could bottle light, we could experience time differently too, saying: here’s a sliver of sun from a morning that knew mammoths; here’s a bright flare from the first night your city used electricity; here is the light from the day you turned four.

Recreating a condition of light that existed elsewhere is an intriguing way to bring us into a contemplation past events. The two installations in this year’s edition of The Natural and The Manufactured connected with long swathes of time by wrapping visitors in light conditions that offered contemplation of past phenomena as much as past human events. Slowing down to observe them was a bit like slowing down to watch a sunset or a blaze of sundogs in the sky, opening the possibility of altering our sense of time’s speed, too.


The Homecoming (Sarah Fuller, AB) and Welcome Stranger (Paul Griffin, NB) both changed dramatically when their lighting changed. Their transformations were unapologetically beautiful, nuanced and enticing, as well as expertly crafted and carefully thought through.

On a leafy August evening, small groups of people walked through Sarah Fuller’s installation The Homecoming in the woods that were once part of Bear Creek, a former townsite a few kilometres southwest of Dawson. We were waiting for the “magic hour” – the period of warm, golden sunlight that photographers wait for at the end (or start) of each day. The duration of pinkish-orange light lasts longer than an hour this far north, which Fuller observed during her visit to Dawson City in summer 2012. She created The Homecoming for that specific time of day.

Fuller works in both large-format photography and digital video and is actively engaged with photographic techniques across the centuries. With The Homecoming, she created five large-scale photographs of houses that were originally homes in Bear Creek, and now exist as homes in Dawson City. Bear Creek was the local administrative headquarters for companies that ran massive dredges through the gold-bearing creeks in the Bonanza Creek area from 1905 to 1966.2 The five homes Fuller used were moved to Dawson during the late 1960s and early 1970s. During the installation, Fuller placed signs in front of these buildings in their current locations, describing briefly the family ownership of each and when they were moved.

The Homecoming drawsinspiration from earlier history too, including Louis Daguerre’s diorama techniques for theatre. Before the success of the daguerreotype, the image-fixing invention that preceded photography, Daguerre had partnered with engineer Charles Bouton in the early nineteenth century to invent painted backdrops that were translucent in some areas and opaque in others. The images would “move” as theatre workers moved shutters or screens to alter the light on the paintings, in a fully darkened, rotating theatre. From the start, according to Daguerre’s notes after he opened the Diorama in 1822, the spectator expected the illusion “to represent the effects of nature.”3


Two key ideas from the diorama inventions appear in The Homecoming, though of course Fuller may have drawn from multiple sources. First, she adapted the idea of activating a large-scale image through changes in light. Using large-format photography, Fuller took contemporary images of the Bear Creek houses and inserted them into photos of the forest that has taken over parts of the former town site. She printed the hybrid images on strips of linen, sewed them together and painted the backs blue, which left the houses opaque except for the window areas.

Next, Fuller hung the images between birches and spruce that now thrive in the spots the houses once stood.4 High-powered work lights were set up behind each one. When the right amount of paleness lit the sky, the artificial lights would glow through the imaginary panes of glass and balance with the natural light. For several minutes each night, the houses looked as if someone was home, waiting for visitors and friends to knock at the door.

The second idea borrowed from Daguerre’s diorama is Fuller’s decision to move the audience through the images, instead of moving the images directly. The installation is not an attempt at theatre, but instead leads to a jump in time. It presents a moment in Bear Creek history that emerges because of the quality of light at a particular time of day. We experienced textures and hues that would have been there when Bear Creek was bustling, that began long before Bear Creek was even imagined, and that continue now.

In the trajectory of Canadian art history, there has long been a push against the late-nineteenth and early twentieth century notions of landscape as a wilderness that supplies a backbone to Canadian identity. Art historian Peter White comments that, since the 1960s, artists, historians and others “have been actively engaged in the process of re-examining landscape in the process of its traditionally instrumental, universal and strongly sentimental role in the construction of Canadian identity.” Once the dream of a modernist Canada slipped into one of post-industrialism and late capitalism, he says, “traditional history was displaced or superseded by the less codified and personal imperatives of memory in understanding or relating to the past.”5


The Homecoming joins this flow by offering a “wilderness moment” that is also a domestic one. The installation brings specific household memories into the semi-wild forest space and, because the only way to see it is by walking through the woods, it also points to the forest’s lifespan, a timeframe longer than the lifecycle of a wooden house. Landscape and personal/national identity are thus explored together, instead of demanding a hierarchy.

Paul Griffin, in turn, embraces the impact of romanticist notions of landscape on human activity – not on the landscape itself – by looking to the gold exploration history in Victoria, Australia, for the source of Welcome Stranger. He named his sculpture after a gold nugget discovered on Friday, February 05, 1869 near Moliagul, a small town north of Melbourne.

An immigrant named John Deason was prospecting for gold when his pickaxe struck something hard at the bottom of a stringy bark tree, the story goes. As he tried to pry the mysterious chunk out of the ground, the pickaxe broke. Deason called for his co-miner Richard Oates to help and they pulled up an irregular mass of gold intermixed with black quartz.


They named the nugget “Welcome Stranger,” likely because the largest nugget previously found in Australia before had been named “Welcome” – in retrospect, a colonialist’s dream of an “empty” land relieved at the chance to be worked and brought into the relentless streams of “progress.” Deason and Oates spent the next two days heating and cooling the nugget, to break the quartz away. On Tuesday, the miners took the nugget to nearby Dunolly, the closest bank, but the bank’s scales couldn’t handle the weight. Solution: they found a blacksmith’s shop and cut it into smaller pieces.

In less than a week, most of the “Welcome Stranger” nugget was melted into ingots; the miners kept a few chunks for themselves and their friends, but the soon-to-be-mythologized shape itself was gone. By February 21, the ingots were on a steamship to London. “Welcome Stranger” ended up containing 2316 troy ounces of gold (just over 71 kg), making it the largest alluvial gold nugget ever found in the world, to this day.

Surprisingly, both Deason and Oates carried on prospecting, continuing their working lives. This is where Griffin’s sculpture picks up the narrative and takes it down a different stream. Deason and Oates’ sweat-driven willingness to pickaxe their way through dusty ground had paid off dramatically. Arguably, they could have looked at their new wealth and been satisfied, especially since they had been mining the area for some time and knew it wasn’t rife with giant nuggets. But they were in it for the dream, the thirst for another moment of awe, another experience of wonder. Or so we might imagine, looking back.


The Welcome Stranger sculpture starts with the lustre of the dream, turning the nugget’s name into a metaphor for a person’s experience of feeling they are “called” by the wilderness, the journey, the gold itself. Griffin, a former logger and carpenter, combined precision and fluidity in a compelling way. He used dozens of metres of fishing line to hang 5,500 four-inch metal deck screws in the outline of an irregular, oblong, somewhat oval shape hovering over a “shadow” of stones laid on the floor.

Griffin spent hours hanging the fishing lines in perfectly spaced rows, which gave the light a “corridor” effect when the eye caught the straight line for a moment among the otherwise imprecise shape. The low angles of the gallery lights added to the illusion of a strobe caught in slow motion. It was a seductive, delightful experience to get lost in the Welcome Stranger’s sheen and weightlessness.

The “nugget” spanned 24 by 12 by 9 feet at its longest, widest and highest dimensions. Each time people walked by, bringing their own subtle breezes, a few screws would move and lightly strike each other. The sounds were delicate, enticing. During the dozen or so visits I made, it seemed that the moment anyone heard them, the bell-like chimes intensified an already-present desire to run fingers along the fishing lines as if running them over a musical instrument or a chainlink fence.

No direct images are left of the “Welcome Stranger” nugget today: no models, photographs or direct drawings were made before the melting began. Various replicas of how the nugget likely appeared are based on a drawing made from memory after the fact, according to the report to the Mines Minister on February 12, 1869.6  Thus, even if Griffin had wanted to make a sculpture based on the nugget’s factual size, dimensions and visual features, it would be de facto approximate and, by extension, curling towards the realm of desire, of elusive dream. So it is fitting that Griffin created an experience
of yearning.


Griffin’s sculpture elegantly separated thousands of screws from their typical relationship with machine time and suspended them, for a few weeks, in the qualities of time relating to searching, questing, roaming. In his own search for the Welcome Stranger sculpture’s shape, Griffin looked to Chinese scholar’s rocks – appreciated as tools for meditation and for cultivating beauty – as an example of stones valued outside of commerce. Following this route, Welcome Stranger can be read as the shimmering outline, the ghost shroud, the spiritual and porous border of a not-quite-solidified shape of knowledge still to come, that will never quite be held in hand. Yearning is the hunger that creates energy for moving us through the practical. Our internal wilderness demands a dream that draws us forward.

Because the nuances of Welcome Stranger and The Homecoming depended on seeing the artworks shift as the light changed, they eluded definitive documentation. Uncertainty is embedded not only in archiving any sculpture or installation, but also in “capturing” any natural phenomenon. What would the authoritative image be – one with the screws motionless or as they sway? The larger question then becomes: why do we want to encapsulate a time-based experience in a flat, two-dimensional image, or even a four-dimensional video archive? What is the source of the desire to freeze a moment in time?

Each year’s opening weekend for The Natural and The Manufactured also includes a lecture by a writer, exploring our interactions with the ecosystems that surround us and that we assemble. Robert Bringhurst, a poet and linguist well known for his work in translating Haida and Navaho literatures in particular, was the guest this year. His image-rich, associative presentation included challenging us to think about machine-encoded time and whether the machines we’ve made are driving us, or whether we are still making decisions about how we want machines to fit into our lives. If we immerse ourselves only in machine-time, he proposed, we end up losing the ability to experience, much less appreciate, cultural ways of being that exists on forest time, or sun time, or ocean time, or animal time.

Bringhurst’s poetic speech was not a direct reflection on The Homecoming and Welcome Stranger, but all three events were immersed in understanding time as a changeable phenomenon instead of a stringently measured one. The outward-folding, sensual experiences that came from passing an interval with The Homecoming and Welcome Stranger can be understood as physical metaphors of relationships with time that are harmonious, not confrontational. The art works were optimistic and leave behind, at least for a while, the commerce-driven use of time as chronology.

The upswell of creativity that carries art from individual minds to publicly shared spaces is a surge that can’t be kept measured and segmented. This is why art – including art about landscape, art about light – doesn’t remain tied for long to any governmental or state agenda. More personally, when art touches more than just the artist and the few people who know him or her, it also eludes being tethered to individual chronologies of memory. It draws us into experiences larger than that of a single personality.

The urge to freeze an experience in a “perfect moment in time” comes, in part, from our awareness that we’ll want to recreate the experience later, either for ourselves or for others. We know it’s impossible to call any image a record of “now” – already gone by the time the shutter closes or the fishing line dangles – yet we find resonant beauty in our relationship with that elusiveness. Maybe this is for the best. “If we look at time as the physicists do,” writes poet Christopher Dewdney, “it makes more sense to think of time as an ocean. We and everything else in the universe float, or bob, in this fluid medium. The present, past and future are merely drifting currents.”7 If we could grasp all the moments of time in one handful of perfect, shiny nuggets, what yearning would be here to keep us swimming forward?

– Meg Walker, Dawson City


1. Carson, Anne. “The Anthropology of Water” in Plainwater: Essays and Poetry. Vintage Canada, 2000.

2. Lewis Green’s book The Gold Hustlers (Alaska Northwest Publishing Company, 1977) gives a detailed look at the competitive business wranglings that drove Joe Boyle and A.N.C. Treadgold to fight for financing, water, and of course gold, as they ran the dredges. The first dredge ran under the Canadian Klondyke Mining Company; the last under the Yukon Consolidated Gold Corp.

3. For the purposes of appreciating The Homecoming, the storyline in focus is the social one. The town was a going concern, to use an old saying. It had a bunkhouse, individual houses, a gold room and machine shop. In fact, because large-scale machinery was required to maintain and repair the gigantic dredges, Bear Creek had the biggest machine shop in western Canada for a time, with equipment that included a 10-ton overhead crane, five lathes of differing sizes, and a 900-ton hydraulic wheel press. The dredges ran 24 hours a day for about 250 days each year, stopping only when heavy ice formed in the ponds.

4. Daguerre, Louis-Jacques-Mandé. An historical and descriptive account of the various processes of the daguerréotype and the diorama. London: McLean & Nutt, 1839, quoted on’s_Diorama

5. In the summer of 2012, Fuller located the houses in Dawson City, visited the current owners, and photographed the buildings as well as locations in Bear Creek that became the homes’ new, artificial, backdrops. During the winter, she printed them, transferred them to squares of linen and then sewed them into images about 80% real-life scale. Come summer 2013, she carefully hung the homes among the spruce and birch at Bear Creek and lit them from behind.

6. White, Peter. “Out of the Woods”, in Beyond Wilderness: The Group of Seven, Canadian Identity and Contemporary Art. McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2007.

Dewdney, Christopher. Soul of the World: Unlocking the Secrets of Time. HarperCollins, 2008.


Meg Walker alternates writing with art-making, hiking between the topographies of sight and word.. Her wanderings across Canada landed her in Dawson City four winters ago and, thanks to the incredible invention called the internet, she continues to write from here for magazines and small-press publications. Recent work includes “Crocus Bluff – open arms” as part of the group show Traversing Yukon Landscapes at the Yukon Art Centre, Whitehorse.