Anna Gaby-Trotz
“How are we so different from those that came before?” – Stan Rogers, The North West Passage

The landscape is on my mind. We are at a point in our existence where we are on the teetering point between a world that can sustain us and one that will destroy us. As an artist I believe it is my duty to bring the landscape into people’s consciousness. I aim to do this by showing the beauty that still exists in the most remote parts of our landscape. During David Suzuki’s “Legacy Lecture Series” I asked him what he thought the role of art was in terms of how we can change our environment. He replied, “Art can be an anthem.” I have spent the last five years travelling through the Northern landscape of Canada searching for images that might add to this anthem. As a landscape artist I look for images that can subtly subvert the viewer’s awareness of our environment.

This fall, thanks to a grant from the Alberta Foundation of the Arts, I travelled by icebreaker ship through the North West Passage. This space is one of the most political areas in Canada. Not only is it of great historical significance, as explorers such as Franklin tried to navigate these perilous waters, but it is also of great contemporary significance. The North West Passage is literally melting due to climate change, leaving this area open to commercial passage as well as potential mineral exploration the likes of which Canada has never known. This Northern passage is opening up a number of questions about Arctic Sovereignty, Canadian Sovereignty, as well as how far we are willing to go for economic gain at the expense of our environment.

During this trip I saw the absolute beauty and remoteness of the North West Passage. I spent every waking moment I had on either on the deck of the ship, or out on the land. I imagined explorers with no knowledge of the land and water that surrounded them travelling through this seemingly endless landscape. This is a remote and wild landscape that should be at the forefront of Canadian consciousness. Our awareness should focus on the preservation of a landscape that is melting away from us, not on simple economic terms.