My residency at Woodhaven Eco Culture Centre took place from June 23 – July 2, 2014.
When I looked at the blooms on the Mock Orange, the words that came to mind were “Have you ever seen such urgency?” With their petals drawn right back, pistil and stamen thrust forward, and their beautiful fragrance, they could induce one to feel the ache of longing.
Shortly before being invited for the Woodhaven residency, I heard my friend, Lorna Tureski, read from her novel Mud Bay, in which she describes one character’s connection to the land – and that the character’s body might actually be the land. I knew immediately that I needed to respond to Lorna’s writing with my drawings.
My own work has primarily been about connection to land, so it was a perfect fit.
The opportunity to spend some time at Woodhaven was ideal. I was able to combine my own land/connection work, my response to images in Lorna’s novel, and my response to my immediate surroundings in the Woodhaven Regional Park.
The drawings themselves are still in progress and not ready to be photographed, but other images that are just as important to me are the photographs that I took as I spent time in quiet solitude, observing the land. They are a record of the time spent drinking in the place with my senses and practicing stillness.
Sometimes the things that I observed caused me to respond, not so much to the marvel of their nature, as to odd events that that they stirred in the recesses of memory.
The Woodhaven residency was a respite from daily life, providing me with the opportunity to slow down and allow art-making to be my priority, and more importantly it was the opportunity to respond to a place and allow it to influence my work. It also provided the space to work on a larger scale, which is much appreciated!
In one of my pieces, I embedded text under the layers of drawing. The text was written using the same material that I was drawing with: grease pencil. The content of the text was my personal response to specific things that I was seeing on the site.
Here are a few of the many photos that I took during my time at Woodhaven.
(Words and images by Joanne Salé)