Paƛšiʔaƛma is installed in the LAB for spring. The imagining part of this work, initially inspired by Emily Carr’s Elephant, was happening just about one year ago. But then Jock & Barbara Niece Macdonald entered the picture, thanks to the unexpected, beautiful open prompt for Circumstance by Gwen MacGregor and Michelle Jacques.

(Meanwhile Ms. Carr’s tiny house project becomes what it should have been all along, a project so difficult and time consuming there aren’t even words yet.)

FireIsJustStarting_InstallationAGGV_smWe are now busy planning Paƛšiʔaƛma’s first public event, Paƛqiqas (Take a fire and make another). For this we will fire up the sauna/smokehouse and invite people inside. At the end there will be a small feast of the food we smoke throughout the day. I am thinking a lot about the visual aspects of this gesture.



Paƛšiʔaƛma (The Fire is Just Starting) explores two traditions common in British Columbia shacks, the European sauna and the First Nations smokehouse. Smoke, a by-product from the wood stove in the sauna portion of the structure, is captured and used to prepare food in the functional smokehouse.


The work is informed by a long tradition of living off the oceans and lands. The smokehouse was an integral part of coexisting with the oceans; that tradition is thousands of years old.


The design of the sauna addresses a simple yet effective approach to light and heat, using only a glass pane for light and a stove that can make the room very hot with just a few branches.


The pervasive smell of smoke and cedar in the gallery are meant to spark interesting, weird and hopefully funny dialogue amongst diverse traditions and practices.


The sauna-smokehouse is primarily made from rough-cut cedar and fir from two Port Alberni mills, including the historic steam-operated McLean’s Mill. This material was re-sawn, dressed and carefully placed in relation to its companions. The remaining materials were mostly scavenged but also carefully considered.


Paƛšiʔaƛma (The Fire is Just Starting) was created on the invitation to intervene in Gwen MacGregor’s exhibition, Circumference, which works with Jock MacDonald’s diary while on Nootka Island. Gwen prompted some questions about making cultural references (or not) in artworks across indigenous/non indigenous lines; and relationships to the land and its representation (also across indigenous/non indigenous lines). This started a conversation that is ongoing.


Paƛšiʔaƛma (The Fire is Just Starting)

intervention on Circumference by Gwen MacGregor

Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

curated by Michelle Jacques

November 9 – 21, 2015

Earlier this summer Victoria McReynolds and Jose Villanueva came through Port as part of Victoria’s luminous light measuring project Light 110. A project to watch. They drove in a tricked out, Victoria-designed Pathfinder from Lubbock, Texas to Prince Rupert earlier in the month, and were en route to their next line of longitude, stopping at each all the way down the coast to Chile.


So begins The Bannock Lectures, a series of talks and dinners with people who are coming through town, providing an interchange of ideas and people in a place that has always been a point of intersection and trade, since time immemorial. The idea has always been to serve [Rod’s secret recipe] bannock at these gatherings, to feed people, to open up possibilities, to invite something to happen that feeds this place, rather than extracts from it.


This morning I came across this poster of Robert Opel the streaker in the 1979 Academy Awards. I was reading a bit about his life and here is the video of the fateful event.

I love two things that David Niven says off the cuff in the program:  “That was almost bound to happen,” and “The only love that man will ever get in his life is by stripping off and showing his shortcomings,” It’s a punch line but there is truth to that. Opel was shot and killed later that year.

[ PS Rod says around that time there were streakers anytime anything was going on. I thought that sounded like a sign of the times. ]

Meanwhile: It seems strange to me how much attention goes towards non-problems and make-work projects. Why.

Tom Sawyer
the Amish (more)
even Habitat for Humanity.

There’s got to be something more to this.

Spring is coming, the salmon will be running soon. We are getting excited about our next miniaturized art house project based on Emily Carr’s Elephant, here are our guiding images.


Clockwise: Emily Carr’s Elephant (Carr with monkey sitting in doorway); 1900s nuu chah nulth smokehouse, wood stove in Emily Carr’s studio, salmon inside a smokehouse, Kwakwaka’wakw feast bowl on wheels.


Our images: Auntie Jessie’s Smokehouse + Mary Cahan’s Sauna

My research on late Hupacasath carver Nelson Joseph culminated in an exhibition at the Alberni Valley Museum on view from June through September, 2014. Nelson’s work has up to this point been under-recognized, but is illustrative of distinctive Nuu Chah Nulth approaches to carving in addition to having its own unique voice.


For the opening, remarks were held in an adjacent room, and the Hupacasath singers and dancers led guests into the galleries.


Nelson’s brother Stuart unveiled the exhibition.

DSC_0314 Opening night had a fantastic turnout.

DSC_0317Over 70 works were on display, more were studied and photographed. Members of the community from all over the Valley opened up their homes and collections to this research.


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The book is in process. We hope to publish it in 2015.

Last October Rod and I went to California on a mini-speaking tour; lectures at three different schools. At Cal Arts, we also did a workshop with the 4th year design students called ‘Two Tents.’ It’s based on a joke about a teepee and a wigwam, and talks about history and techniques of portable dwelling structures, then lets the students go to town designing and creating collaborative inflatable-based structures all DSC_0993DSC_0973DSC_0034in one hour. We had the best time! We’d love to do it again sometime.

“How do you get to The Cloisters?” For me and the two full-time gardeners charged with the care of Fort Tryon Park’s sixty-seven acres of forest and two historic gardens, this is the question we are asked the most. Our answer changes from season to season: the paths don’t move, but the flowers do, and we always guide visitors through the most beautiful experience the season offers.

From A Winter Walk through Fort Tryon Park by Jonathan Landsman, Landscape Coordinator, New York City Department of Parks and Recreation