Monday, October 26, 2009

Finally, a product

Yes, I will finally be exhibiting an actual work dealing with my Grey Islands experience. It is a short looping video (19 seconds) titled Iceberg Paintings. At some point last winter I got it into my head that I was going to paint icebergs. Not on a canvas or anything like that, but actually go out in a boat and put paint on an iceberg. When I considered how ridiculously unsafe it would be to try to do that with a brush I had the brilliant idea that I would use a paintball gun. By the time I got to the Grey Islands, it seemed more than poetic enough - and a little less simplistic - to just have at an iceberg with my 12 gauge. Here's a still from the video:

The video will be exhibited at Eastern Edge Gallery in the soon to be opening Annual Members Exhibit.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


I've been searching the net to find good images of a double bourry box kiln so that I can explain the design of my inside out kiln. So far, I've only found this really great example of a single bourry box kiln, but I will keep looking.

How To Build an Inside-out Kiln - Part 1

I am often asked, "How do you build an inside out kiln?" Well, here is how the bricks go together:

Saturday, October 10, 2009


One day while strolling on the beach in French Cove I came across this peculiar looking stone:

It is semicircular, the size of a quarter, made of an amber translucent material, and has a very deliberate looking worked quality. The two large faces (the top and the bottom) are nearly perfectly parallel and the edges are chipped all the way around to one of two distinct angles. I picked it up wondering what it was and wanting to find out more about what human had made it.

It didn't take much work to figure it out. I asked Tim Rast, a local craftsperson, archaeologist and flintknapper what he made of it and he got back to me in no time flat.

According to Tim:

"Its definitely a French gun flint. A very nice one. Here's a link with photos of a few more modern reproductions of French and English gunflints.

"When gun spalls are made the original flake is trimmed to a standard size and shape by taking off lots of little chips around the edge. Thats the shaping that you noticed on your flint. There are also small chips removed when the flint is used in the musket. There will be a relatively flat unworked surface in the middle and lots of little flakes around the edge creating the square or half-moon shape. The underside will be almost completely flat.

"Muskets that used gunflints started to replace matchlock muskets in the 1600s and they started to be replaced by percussion cap firearms in the 1800s. I have a reference that says that large scale gunflint manufacture started to decline in France in the 1820s, although at least one family was still shipping gunflints to Chile in the 1920s. Your flint could date to pretty much anytime during that period (17th-19th century), which also coincides with the time of the French Shore."

Cool! Thanks Tim!

Friday, October 9, 2009


Last week I went fishing with my father during the annual cod fishery. Some people call it the recreational fishery, but I don't end up with this much food when I go to play ultimate. This was the first time I've gone cod fishing in decades, and I had forgotten what a miracle the ocean is. Or used to be before we fished all the fish.

On the Grey Islands I spent most of my time up on the hills or in the woods, and it was easy for me to forget that the reason people lived there in the first place was to work on the ocean.

Monday, October 5, 2009

What am I actually doing?

The question I've gotten most in the past two weeks is "What are you doing now?", so I thought I should take a moment to put it in print here.

Aside from eventually blogging all about everything on the Grey Islands, I've got a lot of other shit going on. I've wrangled back my BikeShare job, and there is a ton of stuff to do before our funding finishes up in December. Tomorrow there is a sustainability fair at the university and I'm doing free bike tune ups for anyone who dares defy the weather by bringing their bike outdoors. We've also got an exciting line up of bike courses for the fall - I'll post them as soon as they are made public.

In the world of art, I've taken on the position of chair at A1C Gallery. This is something that anyone who's done it before knows can easily turn into a full time job (without pay, of course). I've been involved in A1C since the beginning, and now that we are past the initial crises of birth I think this could be a really good time for the gallery and contemporary art in St. John's.

Soon I'll be getting back in the studio and I can hardly wait! I don't want to give too much away yet, but I've got this great idea about caribou antlers, pottery shards and gravestones. And there are other old and new projects: I've determined to finally finish up my little Tim Horton's intervention and I'm working on two separate film and video ideas. And I want to make pottery, too. I'll have to blame Alexis for that.

Oh yeah - and I've got this elaborate plan for a series of exhibitions/lectures next year. There are a bunch of deadlines happening in the next couple weeks that I've got to prepare for. It's a lot of grunt work, but it's got to be done.

To top it all off, I missed a whole summer of ultimate and bicycling so I'm determined to do as much of those things as I can before the snow flies. I've got a beautiful new bike on order from Cychotic which should be here in just a few weeks!

Not to be all full of myself, but I have to post this:

25 Greatest Works of Art Ever Made in Newfoundland and Labrador

Subjectivity aside, this does seem to be a pretty good cross section of art in Newfoundland over the past 30 years (was there any art in Newfoundland before then?). The reader comments at the bottom are reasonably predictable - ranging from the irate "those artists are a bunch of Canada Council sissies", to the generic "I like some of these selections, but I hate the others", and of course CFP's belligerent counterattacks. Naturally some people are against the arts in general (at least art that is not their own), and naturally some people can't seem to get past a subjective response in their reaction to art. I don't doubt The Grey Islands is one of those selections that one reader feels is "downright laughable".

Another that I'm sure caused more than a few giggles of disbelief would be The Stage. It's exclusive, it's debatable as to whether it is actually art of any sort, and as CFP says, "You don't know about it" which is enough to turn most people off. I've never been there for poker, but I have been part of the St. John's art poker scene occasionally, and have to admit it's quite the interesting and eclectic experience. But aside from that I'd like to defend The Stage from another perspective: it has another art history that even less people know about. Many years ago, a young Neil Conway lived in the stage, where he played country jams, battled the weather, and made pottery on an ancient kickwheel. As I remember, those were quite the times. The story of the stage is deeper and stranger than most people realize, and the unlikelihood of it as a venue for art is enough to make me appreciate that CFP has included it in his list.

We now return...

OK - so you've been wondering where I am and what happened? I needed a little break. I've spent most of the past two weeks eating, drinking, and catching up on the parts of my life that I've neglected for 3+ months. While I still feel exhausted and somewhat overwhelmed I think I'm at least at the point where I can make a few blog posts about stuff. So here I go!