Mixed Media

Forest Fire Pilgrimage

Forest on Fire (#3), acrylic and ink on carved wood, 30 cm x 23 cm, 2015

Images of wildfires in western Canada prompted artist Phyllis Gordon to begin researching fires and creating artwork of burning forests, working on wood supports and making woodcut prints to depict the beauty and danger of fire. Then she was inspired to take a journey. 

“Forest on Fire (#4)”,acrylic and ink on carved wood, 30 cm x 23 cm, 2016

Gradually, I felt an urgency to witness and to embody in my art the aftermath of fires.  Almost with a sense of pilgrimage, I undertook road trips to burnt forests in Arizona, Nevada and California (2016), and Saskatchewan, Alberta (including Fort McMurray) and the Northwest Territories (2017).

Gordon, a former lawyer based in Toronto, spent long stretches in these areas investigating through observation and photography. Her intent is to “address the beauty and power of fire, and examine the deterioration, survival, and new growth that is the aftermath of fires, now greatly intensified by global warming.”

Fort McMurray Postcard No. 2, 16 cm x 21 cm. coloured pencils on paper, 2018

Gordon’s portfolio includes numerous projects related to her focus on “the current formidable risks facing the natural world and humankind as a result of global warming.”  The work above is in a series called Postcards from Fort McMurray, where a devastating 2016 wildfire in that northern Alberta community evacuated 80,000 people and burned through 2,500 buildings.

Phyllis Gordon’s website, here.

NOTE: Since this piece was published, another series of wildfire works has come to my attention as the result of meeting Annerose Georgeson when she left a comment on this post. Based in the interior of British Columbia, she created these works after she went out in the bush with her logger brother and saw the forest on fire.

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