Spring, Landscapes Of Vancouver Island

In a continuation of his body of work from a spring 2014 trip to Vancouver Island, Mark Brennan’s show at Eclectic Gallery this summer in Victoria is a first for this 47 year old landscape painter, who until now exhibited only in galleries from Canada’s East Coast. This new body of work is a reflection on what Mark considers one of the most important trips he has made into nature, to both paint and record the wild sounds of some of Vancouver Islands most inspirational natural places.

Visiting Vancouver Island has been a lifelong dream, those old growth forests have been held in my imagination since my childhood in Scotland. To actually experience the overwhelming power of these places is very special.

Cathedral Grove Near PORT ALBERNI (8)Strathcona Provincial Park was definitely a highlight for me. The feelings felt there I could equate with a back packing trip through Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland several years ago. I distinctly remember sitting atop a waterfall at our remote campsite in Gros Morne, looking down into the infinite mountains, meadows and lakes and thinking how insignificant we really are in these places. I felt this in Strathcona late at night, while camped underneath the old growth. We had a fire going and up through the canopy could see stars as tiny specks of light, the night sky was a prussian blue against the dark tree tops of those giant Douglas fir. Somehow those feelings first felt in Gros Morne came back. They were more a deeper understanding that I am not as important as I thought I might have been! I don’t mean this in a negative way but more that you come to relate to something that is much larger, much more encompassing than our own small narcissistic world view I had tended to live in.

Fallen Giant, Strathcona Provincial Park Vancouver Island BC oil on board 11x14 inches 2015 smallThe campsite Mark and his friend Michael had spent several nights in had a large fallen old growth Douglas Fir stretched out on the forest floor, slowly decomposing back to the Earth. “It was perhaps 4-5 feet in diameter and being so close to this fallen giant gave us a greater understanding of time. This tree was old and had stood here in this wood undisturbed for hundreds of years. To measure this against the somewhat fleeting time of a human life helps you understand how long a place like this has taken to reach this point, and how special old growth forests are. Yet we continue to unravel the forests of the planet at an incredible rate in such a short amount of time. To take this further that fallen giant has been a part of the cycle of life, death and rebirth on a timescale we can only imagine. What is interesting, is when you come to understand that humans are also a part of this cycle, it is possible to see yourself as a part of the web of life.

Listen, Recorded Sounds

In his largest work, “Spring, Myra Falls” oil on board 24×36 inches, Mark has attempted to convey the power of this huge waterfall in Strathcona Provincial Park. “I recorded the falls here, they were spectacular and standing in the middle of  two huge waterfalls, listening with headphones, gave me a better sense of the immensity of the volume of water disappearing over the edge. The falls had a deep bass sound that the microphones picked up and you could almost feel the ground tremble beneath you. It is hard to capture this in a sketch but while painting this in a larger landscape in the studio, I did listen to the falls many times from that recording as a reminder of the emotion felt at the time.

Below, Listen the the Myra Falls.

Mark and his friend Michael, travelled most of Vancouver Island in May 2014 for two weeks exploring, camping and living out of a rented car. Other work from the trip includes paintings from the Stamp River, Saltspring Island, Port Renfrew and Quadra Island.

Giant Cedar, Kennedy RiverThe trip was a year ago now and the landscape is of course very different from Nova Scotia, I have had more time to reflect. I felt a sense of wonder much of the time, especially in the old growth forests, we don’t have anything on that scale in the East. The island felt very rich and diverse and seemed to embody the essence of what an untouched landscape might have been like hundreds of years ago, this is something I have been drawn to for many years. I was particularly affected by the incredible resurgence by First Nations Artists. Learning how they have rebuilt their tradition of relating to the natural world through art was for me life changing. I came to admire both their art forms and that they have held onto their deeply rooted connection to nature. I spent a lot of time in museums and public galleries learning about how they were persecuted and died of disease when the first European settlers arrived. It is hard not to be affected by that and I suppose this has also become a part of my own experience of Vancouver Island. I think the show at Eclectic Gallery will be the first of a large body of ever changing work to come out of this trip, I certainly hope to get back.”

The show opens at Eclectic Gallery, August 17th 2015.

Eclectic Gallery, 2170 Oak Bay Avenue Victoria, BC V8R 1E9
Phone, 250 590 8095
Email eclecticgallery@shaw.ca

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