In my last post in July, there was some pondering and wondering,
remembering and reflecting,
gathering and wrapping – up ‘drawn to respond’.
Since then many things, important, significant things have happened –
a little backtracking…
In April, my lifelong teacher and mentor, GyoZo, Ron Spickett, passed away, left this dream world for another, he was 92. Without question he was my biggest champion in life and in art. He ‘saw’ me and loved what he saw. He understood what no one else understood. He encouraged me, showed me possibilities, gave me perspective, saved my life more than once, loved me unconditionally. His passing changed everything for me, from my weekly routine of checking in with him, cleaning for him, bringing brownies and butter tarts… to my emotional/psychic equilibrium. I literally went into shock. It took me weeks to get my energy reorganized and rebooted. It was as though the major thread in the tapestry of my life, my energetic framework, was pulled out leaving an empty space, filled only with the echo of his last words to me
‘ be at peace Okori, be at peace.’
With the encouragement of a friend I decided to once again apply for the residency in Finland. There was also a call for a residency at the Banff Center that would suit me and the project that I had in mind. So I spent the month of May writing residency proposals, getting clear on my next project and figuring out how to make it happen.
June and July were taken up with household chores and maintenance. I sold Bill, which was relief filled with some sadness at the same time, that part of the ‘hai’ lights journey now complete.
A friend introduced me to the Equinox Vigil which has been happening in Calgary at Union cemetery for the past 7 years on that day. After meeting with the organizer Sharon Stevens at the cemetery she invited me to participate in this years celebration. We chose a site that could work, not the choice I had envisioned, but I could work with it just to have the opportunity. I had seen several cemeteries on my road trip through western Canada that would have been perfect for an installation – and now here was a cemetery, with permission, at night – I was excited about the possibilities!
At the beginning of July I heard back from Arteles in Finland, I was accepted to the residency ‘Silence, Awareness, Existence’ for the month of January. I was over the moon excited! And just before leaving for Vancouver, I heard from Banff that I had been wait listed for the Sept. residency. I was ecstatic, that meant that there was a good chance that I could get in!
August in Vancouver was very, very busy. I arrived during the Fireworks festival, Pride, and swarms of summer tourists. The beaches were closed for swimming due to the high e.coli count, there was a ban on watering because of the drought, so no green grass or beautiful flowers everywhere, and the smoke from the fires everywhere in the province made being outdoors difficult at times. But I loved all my visits with friends, reconnecting with people, some that I haven’t seen in years, bumping into others by surprise, some much needed down time on Mayne island with a friend, all made for a happy, hectic holiday!
The day I got home there was an email from Canada Council informing me that there was a meeting the next morning in Calgary to announce new funding. I showed up at that meeting and found out that not only could I apply for money for the residencies, but also for the research that I wanted to do in relation to my project proposal…hurray!
When I got home from that meeting there was an email from Banff saying that I had been accepted into the fall BAiR (Banff Artist in Residency ) program….beyond ecstatic!!!!!
I had exactly 2 weeks to write funding proposals, one for AFA due on Sept 4th, and one for Canada council due on the 12th. Banff started on the 16th… I had no time to lose!
I wouldn’t find out about the grants until the end of January, but I was going to go to both no matter what, figure out the money later.
First time I ever sailed through writing a grant application…relatively speaking… excitement and anticipation buoying me through the process.
Arriving in Banff was –
I’m actually at a loss for words – not because there aren’t any, but because there are so many. My 5th floor room was beautiful, the bed faced the mountain view, I left the blinds open and fell asleep with that view every night and woke up to it everyday for 5 weeks.
Room with a view Banff Center for the Arts, Alberta
The first person I met was a writer/violinist from New York who was working on a musical in the glasshouse studio in the Leighton colony on campus. There were people, artists from all over the world, Germany, Ukraine, UK, the US, France, Australia, all across Canada – writers, musicians, performers, dancers, all hanging out together, connected by a common drive to create, to bring forward something of ourselves, for ourselves and for others – everyone supportive, encouraging, curious, respectful, understanding, non judgemental, all the faculty there to do what they can to make sure you succeed. Grateful!
The studio they assigned me was perfect. I rented cameras and tripods, photographic services helped me set everything up that I needed for the success of my project. My facilitator was very patient with me and super helpful with all the details, making sure I knew everything that I needed to know before moving ahead.
Studio 15 Glyde Hall. Banff Center for the Arts
On September 22nd I drove into Calgary to install the ‘hai’ lights piece for the Equinox Vigil. Installing in Union cemetery was a challenge – rocks and asphalt – cold, wind, mist, rain – weather!
It took me about 3 hours to put it up and about 30 minutes to take down.
People responded very positively to the piece. As the evening grew darker and mistier the piece took on an even more ephemeral presence – people were moved by it, touched by its simple beauty. I heard a few weeks later from someone who was there that the piece still haunts her –
I was happy to have been a part of this ceremony, acknowledging the universal cycles of life and death, collectively and personally – in ritual and remembrance.
‘hai’ lights : Union cemetery Calgary AB September 2018
I was able to put up a ‘hai’ lights piece at the Banff Centre during my time there. Not initially where I had intended but in the end maybe the best place in terms of visibility and accessibility. The facilities manager went out of his way to help me find a suitable location. In the week that it was up, there was a lot of curiosity, and once again positive responses. I wasn’t allowed up on the roof to take photos, but the head of photography Don Lee, went up for me and took amazing shots. Grateful!
‘hai’ lights : BAiR Banff AB October 2018 photos Don Lee Louise Pagé
We had studio visits, interactions with curators, writers, archivists, from Hong Kong, Amsterdam, Toronto, LA, all responding to our work, talking to us about our process, our thinking. There was an open studio event 3 days before the end of the residency. Banff centre people, towns people, Canmore and Calgary residents came and wandered through our studios, to see what we had been up to. We were a productive group of artists. Curious, innovative, bold, courageous, thoughtful, open-minded – everyone uniquely creative.
I loved being part of the community that we created for those 5 short weeks –
The entire experience was intense and focused, inspiring, exciting, encouraging, and utterly freeing – to be relieved of all day to day activities/chores – except laundry – having only to decide where to eat and what – the amount of time and space that that created all directed to creative work was totally liberating!
Every minute of being at the Banff Center was beyond rewarding, I’m grateful for all of the learning and expanding that happened – excited about what it means for what’s next.
In the end I learned what I need to know to make work that I have been wanting to make for a long time, a piece about the heart. I know now that it’s possible and what to do going forward to make it happen.
animated projections : ‘sketches’ of the heart piece work in progress 20’x30′
There is more – much more – to work out, that will be Finland’s job, in the quiet remoteness and endless space making room to ‘see’ the unfolding of the idea –
going to where I need to go – following my heart.
PS I began writing this in October and finished it today, December 9th….some things just take a long time to get done!!
Happy holidays wherever you are in the world.
Peace Peace Peace and more Peace 🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻
All images / text © Louise Pagé 2021