The Years, is concerned with time and how the passing of time changes everything. Memories recede and when they are recalled, a different emphasis is placed. History readjusts opinions and can distort details.
The Years consists of three panels hung together as one piece representing the years since the Confederation of Canada. I want to acknowledge that Canada has history that began long before Confederation. This 150 years, although significant, is only a small part of the inhabitation of this land. I would like the inclusion of one of the paintings that I made in developing the ideas for The Years to symbolize what went before Canada became a nation. This painting speaks for the complexity, diversity and long history of what is now called Canada.
My painting practice entails a process of accumulation, repetition and the building of layers of paint resulting in depth and saturated colours. For this piece, I chose a shape to repeat in each space by making trials of colour and shape until I got to a form, a circle within a square, that I thought would bear repeating 150 times with grace. First, I painted the circle, then I painted the whole square including the circle with a thin layer of paint. I then moved on to the next space, repeating the process and painting over the new square and the previous ones.
As I worked my way through the panels, the early squares became more and more layered. The first ones painted represent the past moving forward to the present, with the shape obscured as the layers of paint accumulate over time. The squares represent the years of Canada and the layers of paint remind us of the layers of history that have built the depth and richness of the country we have now. Bits of debris or flaws in the canvas accumulate paint as the layers develop. The variation that occurs gives vibrancy to the repeating of the form much in the same way that each of us adds vibrancy to our country’s history.
There are many acts which we do on a daily basis that are repetitious, a set of nearly mindless, automatic acts; looking out a window, washing a dish, eating a meal, observing a landscape. These acts are repeated day by day. These are the moments from which our lives are made and we can make these moments deliberate by focusing on them. This is the kind of creative attention I bring to my painting.
I write this in the aftermath of the 2016 United States election in which we witnessed the attributes and personal characteristics that I find least desirable in world leaders. My consolation is that I am a citizen of this country and I feel pride in our social and political systems. I am gratified that Canada is where I have been able to live for most of my adult life and that it continues to be a nation that I admire. I am enriched by being Canadian and celebrate this in the moments of my life.