Alice Burton 2013-2023 Centered Mixed media on canvas 56 x 46
Lake Atlin, Yukon BC, Tlingit First Nation
William Henry Bartlett 1842 Scene Among the Thousand Islands
1. Impressions created deliberately by the use of various materials and techniques.
2. Results brought about by an action or other cause.
Until this exhibition in June 2023 I had primarily been working with the first definition of “Effects” in mind. The first few paintings I completed are results of that technique. “Shades of Grey” are colour studies: a grey pigment was mixed into other colours to create more muted and blended shades. I have always used line and mixed media to create a variety of impressions of the Canadian landscape.
I was working in this manner on September 30, 2022, our first National Day of Reconciliation.
I usually have the radio on in the background as I paint, and that day many speakers were addressing this topic. Suddenly, I asked myself about the manner in which I was depicting the landscape: I was rendering nature in a unique manner following on the work of previous painters, but I was rarely telling a story. I reviewed my past landscape paintings. I liked to think I was painting a more imaginative aspect of the Canadian landscape, influenced by traditional painters but combining that influence with memory and personal experience. As we spent much of our time holidaying in the lands and waterways of the Precambrian shield, those memories entered my work. But in fact, much of what we considered “Canadian adventure and outdoor activities” were in fact an “Effect” of our long-term romanticizing of Indigenous lifestyles. Where were Indigenous people in my work?
In my most recent works, I have paid more attention to these influences, sometimes adding elements to past works and thereby making them more complete. The magnitude of the scenery with its overwhelming beauty often moved Indigenous peoples to expressions of spirituality, visible artistically in various mediums. I have felt and done the same, such as in graphics and mathematical symbols in my work “Centered,” revised in 2023. I was moved to paint this work after spending time on the shores of Lake Atlin in Northern BC – the home of the Tlingit. To spend time there is awe-inspiring.
Seeing the Indigenous contributions to our culture and our country, and writing them back into our histories and narratives, is one small part of the work we all have to do to achieve Reconciliation.
Alice Burton, May 2023