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 The Limestone Barrens Project

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Research: The Limestone Barrens Project
 Limestone Barrens
The Limestone Project, a partnership involving Grenfell Campus/Grenfell Campus Art Gallery, the Tom Thomson Memorial Art Gallery, and the Niland Model Arts Centre, investigates art-science themes among three limestone barrens areas: those on the Bruce Peninsula in Ontario, the Burren in County Clare, Ireland, and those on the Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland and Labrador. Links will be explored through the disciplines of science, visual art and creative writing. Scientists will be asked to set the brief and provide background information for the participating artists. 
Limestone Barrens

The limestone barrens support unique ecosystems characterized by extremes of temperature, cycles of drought and flooding and frost. Flora and animal life, supremely adapted to living in these harsh conditions, are often rare or endangered. For example, while the limestone barrens on this island represent less than one per cent of the total area of the island, they harbour 10 per cent of the province's rare plants. The barrens are also areas of a great peculiar beauty.

Over this past summer and fall, visual artists and writers walked the three regions, and subsequently produced artwork based on their experiences and briefings by researchers associated with the barrens in each region. The resulting photo-based art and writing will be shown this year in an  exhibition at the Sir Wilfred Grenfell College Art Gallery which will go on to tour to the in Owen Sound, Ontario, the Niland Model Art Centre in Sligo and the Limerick City Art Gallery in Ireland. Other galleries have expressed great interest; thus the exhibition may tour to other venues. Research and documentation of the project will appear in a major publication and will be discussed in a symposium on the limestone barrens this summer. The symposium will take place at the Sir Wilfred Grenfell College.  
Owen Sound, Ontario, home of the Tom Thomson Art Gallery, has been designated as a Cultural Capital of Canada for 2004 addressing the theme of “People and the Land”. The Limestone Barrens Project will be a cornerstone in the program that the city will present during its banner year.


On one hand, survival and adaptation, and on the other, fragility, have been identified as themes. Research has shown that the three regions are also linked through history and culture, as well as similar geology and botany. This raises questions about the exchange of ideas about and cultural attitudes towards "Nature", environmentalism and landscape. The project seeks to cultivate a lasting relationship between three areas which share much in character and culture.


Three legs of the journey:
Leg one:
At the end of July, artists, writers and curators from Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario and Ireland walked the limestone barrens of Watt’s Point, Cape Norman and Burnt Cape as well as Port au Choix and Flower’s Cove on the Northern Peninsula. While in Corner Brook, the artists and writers were briefed by Joe Brazil and Gerry Yetman, scientists associated with the Limestone Barrens Conservation and Recovery Team, regarding the ecological significance of these unique areas which support a number of endangered and rare species of plants. During their visit to the Northern Peninsula they were also accompanied by Dulcie House, program supervisor of the Limestone Barrens Stewardship Program and met with Michael Burzynski and Anne Marceau of Parks Canada. Participants in this first leg of the project were: Greg Staats, Har Prakash Khalsa and Stuart Reid, all of Ontario; Liam O'Callaghan of Ireland; David Morrish, John Steffler and Charlotte Jones, all of Corner Brook.
The second leg: 
The second leg of the research trips and walks began September 22 on the Bruce Peninsula with Marlene Creates, Joe Brazil and Charlotte Jones (Newfoundland and Labrador); Sean McCrum, Liam O'Callaghan, Orla Kenny and Rob Canning (Ireland); and Har Prakash Khalsa, Greg Staats, Liz Zetlin, and Stuart Reid (Ontario).  The artists attended presentations by Jim Faught, Executive Director of the Ontario Federation of Naturalists, Lorraine Brown of the Escarpment Centre Ontario and Dr. Doug Larsen, the researcher who identified the ancient cedar forests clinging to the cliffs of the Niagara Escarpment, the oldest forest in Eastern North America. They were given tours of limestone barrens along the Bruce Peninsula by Ethan Meleg and Don Wilkes of Parks Canada where they viewed cedars which were dated to 550 years, a stunning alvar at Baptist Harbour, sea stacks, and the magnificent limestone cliffs of Georgian Bay. They also were given tours by botanists Mark Wierczinski and Nels Mahar, a specialist in ferns.

The third leg: 
In November, David Morrish, Kris Rosar, and Liz Zetlin, and Sean McCrum visited the Burren. There, they met with Penny Bartlett, Park Conservator for the Burren, for a half-day walking guided tour of a significant area of the Burren. They spent three days walking areas of their choice. They also met with Suzanne Woods, the Director of the Model Arts and Niland Gallery in Sligo and Mike Fizpatrick, the Director of Limerick City Art Gallery.                                                                   


Artist and Curator Biographies:
Visual Artists:
Marlene Creates: graduated with a BAE from Queen's University in Kingston in 1974 and in 1985 moved to Newfoundland. Since 1977 Creates has maintained an active exhibition schedule, exhibiting her work in group and solo exhibitions across Canada and the United States and in Great Britain and Europe. Her work has been included in many exhibitions which deal with landscape, environmentalism and social issues such as: North and South: tradition, invention and intervention in Labrador at the Art Gallery of Newfoundland and Labrador in 2002 and River City at the Edmonton Art Gallery, in 2001. Creates' work may be found in many public collections including the National Gallery, the Agnes Etherington Art Centre (Kingston), the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, the Art Gallery of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Canadian Museum of Civilization. The artist has received grants from the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council, the Canada Council and the Ontario Arts Council. In 1996 she was named Artist of the Year by the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council and in 2001 she was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. Creates' work—in photography and photographic installation--looks at the convergence between social history, landscape and the environment.
Orla Kenny: holds a diploma in Art and Design Education and a Degree in Fine Art from the Institute of Technology, Limerick. Kenny uses video to explore the relationship between landscape and memory. Her work has been included in the Claremorris Open in 1995 and 1997 and in many other group exhibitions in Ireland.. Kenny has worked with children as an artist-facilitator on several projects using new technologies. One such project, Charlie Bailey and All His Friends, brought together children from both the settled and traveler communities in Co.Sligo .
Har Prakash Khalsa: was born in Toronto, graduated from the Ontario College of Art and Design and currently lives in Owen Sound, Ontario. His exhibition, The hole project, which was organized by the Tom Thomson Memorial Art Gallery in 1999 toured public galleries and artist-run spaces across Canada.. Khalsa has exhibited work nationally in solo and group exhibitions since 1979. He has been awarded several Ontario Arts Council grants for exhibition assistance.. In Khalsa's current work, he seeks to synthesize the wider landscape with the minute.
David Morrish: received a BFA (Honours) from the University of Manitoba and his MFA from the University of Calgary. Morrish's work has been seen in solo, two, three and group exhibitions across Canada since 1981. His most recent solo exhibition was Photogravures: 1996-2001 at the Centre Culturel Franco-Manitobain in St.Boniface, Manitoba. Notably his work has been included in the upcoming, SAW Gallery exhibition, No Such Animal, in two Marion McCain Atlantic Art Exhibitions and in several juried print exhibitions in Japan, Great Britain and Canada. The artist is the recipient of several Canada Council Artistic/Creative Grants as well as a similar award from the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council. His work may be found in private, corporate and public collections including: the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, the Canada Council Art Bank, the Winnipeg Art Gallery, the Edmonton Art Gallery, and the Art Gallery of Newfoundland and Labrador. Many of Morrish's bookworks, photographs, and prints evince his interest in the social underpinnings of our relationship to nature. As photographer for two books on social history in Newfoundland, Morrish has insight into both the landscape and the social issues arising from land use.
Liam O'Callaghan: has exhibited his work in group and solo exhibitions in Ireland since graduating from Dun Laoghaire College of Art and Design in 1990. In 2001, he collaborated with Anna Rackard to produce the book, Fish stone water-holy wells of Ireland. In 2004 he will be artist-in-residence at the Irish Museum of Modern Art. O'Callaghan' has recently been working with video projections of organic material collected in his the Irish countryside.
Kris Rosar: Kris Rosar's most recent solo exhibition, Domestic Possessions/Obsessions was exhibited at the Art Gallery of Peel, Brampton in 2003. She has exhibited in solo and group exhibitions nationally since 1981. Group exhibitions include Arts2000, a juried exhibition at Gallery Stratford; In Camera at the Tom Thomson Art Gallery in Owen Sound; and The Garden at the Durham Art Gallery. She is the recipient of numerous Ontario Arts Council Exhibition Assistance Grants and was an award winner at the 1996-1998 Juried Photography Show organized by the Blue Mountain Foundation for the Arts. Her work is in public, corporate and private collections. As well her photographs have been published in many journals and exhibition catalogues. The artist received her Bachelor of Applied Arts, Photographic Arts, from Ryerson Polytechnical Institute.
Greg Staats: is a visual artist resident in Toronto. He was born on the Six Nations Reserve in Ontario, studied photography at Sheridan College and has been exhibiting his work in solo and group exhibitions in galleries across the country. In 1999 he was awarded the prestigious Duke and Duchess of York Award in Photography. He is the recipient of several Canada Council and Ontario Arts Council Grants. His work may be found in several public collections including the Art Gallery of Hamilton, the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography and the Tom Thomson Memorial Art Gallery. His most recent solo exhibition, Animose, amongst other things, explored the notion of shelter and the urban landscape. For The Barrens Project, Staats continues to explore the architecture of shelter in natural space.


Writers and Composers:
Rob Canning: graduated with a B.Mus. from University of Wales Cardiff in 1997 and went on to graduate with an M.Litt in composition at the University College Dublin, Ireland studying with Seóirse Bodley. In 1998 he was awarded 1st prize in the composer class of the RTE Musician of the Future Festival for his piece Through Cages. In 1999, he was awarded 1st prize in the International section of the New Music for Sligo Composition Competition with his work for mixed ensemble Creole. He has received commissions from RTE, Concorde, Music for Galway and the Galway Arts Festival. In 2001 he received the Macaulay Fellowship administered by the Arts Council of Ireland and the Emerging Artist Award administered by Wicklow County Council His compositional output includes chamber, instrumental and electro-acoustic works. Recent works have premiered at the 21st Nuovi Spazi Musicale festival in Rome, Italy in 2000, Costruzione Illegittima (2001); at the Galway Arts Festival 2001. The work commissioned by RTE for the London Sinfonietta, Garden of Forking Paths, was performed by the RTE Symphony Orchestra at the Helix, Dublin, in November 2002. This work has been selected to represent Ireland at the International Rostrum of Performers. He is currently working on an electro-acoustic/acoustic piece, commissioned by Concorde and lectures in composition at Trinity College, Dublin’s Music Department.
John Steffler: is a noted Canadian author resident in Corner Brook where he teaches at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College. Steffler is the author of The Afterlife of George Cartwright, which was shortlisted for the Governor-General's Award in 1996, and several volumes of poetry. Most recently, Vehicule Press, Montreal, published Helix: New and Selected Poems and Brick Books of London, Ontario brought out a new edition of The Grey Islands. Steffler's work has been included consistently in The Malahat Review, The Fiddlehead, and TickleAce. In 2002 his work was anthologized in The New Oxford Anthology of Canadian Literature. Steffler is the recipient of many awards and honours including Canada Council Project and Travel Grants, the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council Artist of the Year Award, the Atlantic Poetry Prize, the W.H. Smith/Books in Canada First Novel Award and the Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Prize.
Liz Zetlin: received her BFA (Honours) in Visual Arts and Art History from York University and a BA (Honours) in Modern Languages and Literature from Antioch College, Ohio. Her work has been published consistently in collections of Zetlin's own work and anthologies. Her most recent collection is Thing with Feathers, a chapbook. She has given readings, talks and workshops across Canada and has read her work on CBC Radio's, Fresh Air and Ontario Today. She is the recipient of several grants and awards including the Canadian Poetry Association's Shaunt Basmajian Award (in 1999), first prize for poetry from Carousel Magazine, second prize in the Stephen Leacock Orillia International Poetry Contest, an Ontario Arts Council Grant, and two Toronto Arts Council Grants. Currently, Zetlin divides her time between Toronto and Traverston, Ontario.


Charlotte Jones, Project administrator and curator for Newfoundland and Labrador: received her B.A. Honours in Psychology from the University of Manitoba, M.A. in Communications from Simon Fraser University and her Masters of Librarianship from the University of British Columbia. Since 1984 she has been an independent curator and arts administrator. In 1988-1989 she was the Research Officer for the Art in Public Places Project at the University of Ulster in Belfast. This entailed establishing an archives on public art, administering the commissioning of public artwork and writing a report mapping out a public art program for the City of Belfast. She was co-administrator and curator of The Wood Project, an interdisciplinary cultural exchange between the island of Ireland and the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The exchange comprised a touring exhibition of visual art and craft by Newfoundland and Irish artists; a publication; and six artist-in-residency exchanges. She was interim director of the Sir Wilfred Grenfell College Art Gallery from 2001 to the end of 2002 where she curated exhibitions of work by such artists as Andy Fabo and Michael Balser, Diana Thorneycroft, David Hoffos, Anne Meredith Barry and Barb Hunt. Other current projects include The Art and Science of Forest Ecology, a collaboration between artists and scientists at the Canadian Forest Service. She has written extensively on art and art-related issues, most recently contributing an essay to Barb Hunt: PINK.
Sean McCrum, project administrator and curator for Ireland: received his BA Honours in Classics from Trinity College, Dublin. McCrum was the Director/Curator of the Douglas Hyde Gallery, Trinity College from 1976 to 1982. From 1981 to 1987 he was an independent critic, writer and broadcaster contributing frequently to such media as The Irish Times, Art Monthly, Arts Review, the BBC and Radio Telefis Eireann. He has been an independent curator and project administrator since 1987. Since 1997 much of his work has focused on cultural exchange programmes and cross-disciplinary and multi-media programmes. One of his most recent projects was Soundshapes, which brought together artists and composers. The resulting exhibition with accompanying publication and cd-rom toured throughout Ireland.
Stuart Reid, project administrator and co-curator for Ontario: Born in Dundee, Scotland, Reid received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from York University in Toronto. He is the Director of the Tom Thomson Memorial Art Gallery in Owen Sound. During his tenure as Director/Curator of the Craft Gallery of the Ontario Crafts Council, the John B. Aird Gallery, the Art Gallery of Mississauga and the Tom Thomson, he has curated numerous exhibitions by Canadian and Irish artists and contributed to many publications. Among the touring exhibitions with accompanying publications that Reid has curated or co-curated are: Sylvia Safdie: Extensions; Further: Paintings by Monica Tap; Kai Chan: Rainbow Lakes; Sheila Butler: Sympathetic Magic; Shane Cullen:Fragmens sur les Institutions Republicaines IV; Janet Werner: Trust.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, the research for the project and artist visits have received financial and in-kind support from the Sir Wilfred Grenfell College; Memorial University of Newfoundland; Canada Council for the Arts; Natural Resources Canada-Canadian Forest Service, Tourism, Culture and Recreation-Parks and Natural Areas and Science Divisions; Cultural Economic Development Program-Tourism, Culture and Recreation; and the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council. The project is supported in Ontario by the Ontario Arts Council; City of Owen Sound; Cultural Capitals; the Escarpment Centre Ontario; and the Canada Council for the Arts. In addition, Owen Sound, Ontario, home of the Tom Thomson Art Gallery, has been designated as a Cultural Capital of Canada for 2004 addressing the theme of "People and the Land". The Limestone Barrens Project will be a cornerstone in the program that the city will present during its banner year. In Ireland, to date the project has been supported by the Model Arts and Niland Gallery; and the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism.
For further information:
Charlotte Jones
(709) 634-0607
Photo Credits:
1. Har-Prakash Khalsa, Burnt Cape, July 2003
2. David Morrish, Cape Norman, 2003
3. Liam O'Callaghan, Frost Polygons, Burnt Cape, July 2003
4. Liam O'Callaghan, Cape Norman, July 2003
5. Liam O'Callaghan, Juniper, Port-aux-Choix, July 2003
6. Har-Prakash Khalsa, Burnt Cape, July 2003

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