Canada’s Raincoast at Risk – Art for an Oil-Free Coast

The artist is a translator: one who has learned to pass into her own language the languages gathered from stones, from birds, from dreams, from the body, from the material world, from the invisible world…. From love
Jeanette Winterson, Art Objects

The Northern British Columbia coast is home to the last significant temperate coastal forest on the planet, – intact and rare ecosystem communities, some of which never experienced the glaciation of the last ice age. Those visitors who take the time to travel the West Coast are overwhelmed by the beauty and lush life to be found here.

There is no place else like this place, and even if there were, this would in no way decrease its value. Beyond scientific arguments, the value of home, of culture, and of community is not to be found in corporate ledgers or GDPs. Also not found there are these rich waters, deep forests, and myriad other creatures with whom we share this complex and astonishing coastal habitat, – one that we require every bit as much as do these humpbacks, bears, wolves, and ravens. So rare a gem is this place that it is imperative that the rest of the world know and understand the value of its being, and this being must be respected.

This precious bit of wild is important to everyone alive in this world, being the last place of its kind. As such it is a matrix of life and meaning and a taproot into the depths of ourselves. The threat represented by dozens of very large crude carriers, each carrying some 227,000 dead weight tonnes of diluted bitumen through these wild and dangerous winding waterways, and the inevitable consequence of doing so, provides a terrifying vision.

Fear often causes us to disengage. One of the best responses to terrifying visions is the power of art. Art is not the first option most people consider for effective action, but recall for a moment that for centuries art and artists have been targeted for control or repression by dictators. If art were merely a nice piece of icing on the cultural cake, this would not be the case.

In her book Art Objects, writer Jeanette Winterson reminds us that artists deal in visions. And in many cultures, visions are recognized as messages from something or someone more than human, from beyond the boundaries of our standard perceptual map of the world.

In contradistinction to many campaigns on behalf of the wild, which offer us visions of broken lands and poisoned waters, the artworks in this book affirm the life of this place: they meet head on the nightmare vision of oil-drenched sea and shore. These works in their strength and beauty, open us, affirm what is here, and call for a different future for this place than that planned by corporate interest. These works speak on behalf of this place, of community, and they speak from the heart. They call us to stand forth ourselves and speak on behalf of this place.

Beth Carruthers
Maps without Borders
Canada’s Raincoast at Risk – Art for an Oil-Free Coast

Beth Carruthers is an internationally known writer, artist, educator, and curator. Focused on applied ethics and the vital role of aesthetic engagement in cultural change, her work addresses a range of topics within culture and sustainability. Recent and forthcoming publications include “Possible Worlds” a juror’s essay in The Time is Now: Public Art of the Sustainable City, and “A Subtle Activism of the Heart” in Sustaining the West: Cultural Responses to Western Environments, Past and Present.

Canada’s Raincoast at Risk – Art for an Oil-Free Coast

The 160-page book, now on its second printing, highlights the art pieces, most of which are originals, from 50 incredible Canadian and First Nation artists like Robert Bateman, Robert Davidson, Craig Benson, Carol Evans, Lissa Calvert and Roy Henry Vickers. The art is featured with writings from esteemed Canadian scientists such as David Suzuki, Wade Davis and Paul Paquet. All works are grouped into one of nine chapters that cover the region, the people, sea birds, land mammals, marine mammals, forests, estuaries, salmon, and the underwater marine life of Canada’s raincoast, including the Queen Charlotte Basin and the Great Bear Rainforest.

Canada’s Raincoast at Risk – Art for an Oil-Free Coast

Raincoast Conservation Foundation

Raincoast is a team of conservationists and scientists empowered by our research to protect the lands, waters and wildlife of coastal British Columbia. We use rigorous, peer-reviewed science and community engagement to further our conservation objectives. We call this approach ‘informed advocacy’. As a charitable, non-profit conservation science organization that operates a research lab, research field station and a research/sailing vessel, we are unique in Canada.

Raincoast Conservation Foundation