About a year ago, I had an impulse to make a long, narrow painting of a single branch or stick. In my mind, I wanted to find a way to bring objects I found in the landscape into the studio. This idea led to months of searching for and collecting every stick I could find. I started paying attention to the amazing diversity and aesthetic beauty of this particular type of found object.
Most of the sticks I gathered came from my neighbourhood. I gathered them from the banks of the bow river, from construction sites, alleys, abandoned lots, and dead gardens. I came to think of these sticks as bones. They are the bones of dead trees, the discarded off-cuts from building projects, broken handles, and any manner of man-made objects that have been tossed in the trash.
I found that like the ancient symbol of the Fasces, a bundle of sticks made strong through their number, the sticks I was gathering gained aesthetic beauty and compositional strength by grouping and arrangement. I didn’t want to have any kind of a back-ground or context for the still still-lifes, so I created a number of long boxes to arrange them in for the purpose of direct observation and photography. When I finished and framed my first painting, I was instantly reminded of Hans Holbein’s The Body of the Dead Christ in the Tomb. The sculptural architecture of the frame became an extension of the box the sticks rested in, much like the portico of a crypt.
This realization led me to think of these paintings as ossuaries, tombs, crypts, and modern representations of the Fasces. They are reliquaries of natural and urban decay. Seen through another lens, they remind me also of landscapes. In my mind, romantic depictions of post-apocalyptic cities and empires, hence some having titles like “Carthage”.