Urban Forest is a body of work about location, memory and the desire to insert the forest into urban spaces. In the older neighbourhoods of Western Canadian cities the trees dramatically impact the light and shadow, visually breaking down the planned geography of the traditional street grid. Like the shelterbelts of the home quarter on prairie farms the trees shield and protect our homes, and transplanted species connect us to distant geographies. The trees defy containment, stretching out in organic irregular shapes, shifting shadow patterns change as each season brings new growth, density and then loss.


It is part of a larger body of work that I have been exploring for the past decade. I am interested in creating paintings that give viewers a sense of a memory of place, not just a geographic location. My approach has been to create a more cinematic approach to documenting locations, using video and multiple camera angles and shots that are eventually stitched together into a digital drawing. Although at first glance the images suggest a specific reality, soon small visual details take on greater visual presence and proper perspective is frequently defied. This drawing is combined with multiple layers of opague and transparent acrylic paint, light and colour, the paintings appearance subtly shifting in different light and from different viewpoints.

In mid 1970’s my parents returned home from a trip to Ontario with a hand full of acorns, picked up from one of our original family homesteads. They nursed several frail saplings through several bitter Saskatchewan winter’s hoping that just one tree would survive and thrive. Eventually one tall rugged tree dominated our back yard. When I started creating the work for urban forest my attention was captured by the SOS Elms Saskatoon tree tour project. In their ‘Saskatoon Tree Tour’ booklet they highlight some of the rare and unusual species of trees growing in Saskatoon. I spent a day with my family visiting the various locations featured in the booklet. This tour through older neighbourhoods on Saskatoon’s east side was the starting point for many of the images in the ‘Urban Forest’ series.