In the lead-up to the Yukon Geoscience Forum each year the Yukon Chamber of Mines runs the Yukon Geoscience Forum Visual Arts Competition. The winning art work from the annual competition is purchased by the Chamber of Mines and used as the prizes for their annual award ceremonies.
My piece The Climb won the 2017 competition.
After the competition concluded the Chamber of Mines reached out asking if they could commission a second geology-themed piece from me for a special award they were presenting this time around. I agreed and created The Dredge for them. Given that I was trained as a geologist in university I really enjoyed bringing my past academic world together with my art.
The piece explores several time slices in the history of the Klondike. A dredge dominates the scene, but the landscape that it is working over references a wider swath of the region’s history than just the period between the 1900s and 1960s when the dredges were active. The right side of the canvas includes bones of extinct megafauna and a series of ash layers to capture the Beringian history of the Dawson Region and the palaeontology and tephra studies that shed light on this period for us today. The left side is designed to represent the white channel gravel and the placer gold found within the unit. Stones within this section form an image of a placer miner with a gold pan to link to the origins of the Klondike gold rush. And the landscape in the centre of the canvas is designed to mimic the view of dredge tailings piles as viewed from the air. The water flowing across the base of the canvas exposing the full vertical profile of the section is included to create a link to current placer mining and the process of water monitoring to work through the overlying permafrost.
I understand that my two pieces now reside in the hands of Alkan Air and Sally Howson.
Alkan Air was awarded the Yukon Chamber of Mines Award for their support of the Yukon Hospital Foundation, Yukon Imagination Library, and for their creation of a flight training academy aimed at engaging northern youth in the northern aviation industry. My daughter Inara is one of many Yukon children who benefit from the Imagination Library program that sends her a new book each month for free, so I was pleased to see my artwork going to recognize a company that helps make the program possible.
Sally Howson was recognized for her contributions for setting standards for early and respectful engagement with communities and First Nations and for engagement in environmental best management practices. As these two issues are close to my heart it was gratifying to know that my art was being given in recognition of this important work.