April 21, 2008

Banff Centre Residency - WOMEN ROCK

Back from our weeks in the mountains and had a wonderfully productive time. With six speakers over two weeks, we hiked to see geology, ecology and glaciology. The Whyte Museum archives figured prominently and with help from librarian/archivist Elizabeth Kundert-Cameron we learnt how to use them and discovered their treasure trove of remnants from the past. All around us were opportunities for many photographs and inspiration for designs were everywhere.

Jennifer Salahub, art historian of ACAD and U of C, discussed how 'research rocks!' With three main points (1) tracking - where did you find the info? (2) management - how do you organize your info? (3) critical reading - what is important in what you have read? She gave us lots to think about. We toured the Whyte Museum with her and upon picking a photograph of Mary Schaffer, she gave us homework to each produce a personal response to this particular photo. We then took her to the Banff Springs Hotel for afternoon high tea, echoing the doings of late 19th C women in the mountains.

Margaret Anne Knowles, museum curator, spoke to us over three days on visioning - looking at the big picture of our group Articulation and where we want to go in the future. She had us doing exercises on our goals, and much discussion was spent on applying for grants.

Wilhelm Schmidt, professional photographer, shared his art with us with many photographs taken in the mountains and locations for great shots. He also brought some old cameras that the early explorers would have hauled over the mountains with them to show us how glass lantern slides would have been taken.

Ben Gadd drove down from Jasper to join us for an evening lecture and morning walk to share his immense knowledge as an environmentalist, naturalist, adventurist and geologist. With his slides he took us along with him on a hike up Mount Robson; across the Wapiti Ice Field and the Continental Divide; as well as through the Castleguard Cave.

Tara Moran from the University of Calgary is doing climate change research on the Canadian Rocky Mountain glaciers and spoke to us on the disappearing glaciers and glacial dynamics. Depressing statistics all around, like how there used to be 150 glaciers in Glacier National Park but now only 30 survive - and those are expected to be gone by 2050.

Paul MacKay, prof. geologist, spoke to us on plate tectonic theory then took us out into the field and showed us examples of it. Thrusts, faults, erosion, sedimentary rocks - and how most of the mountains around Banff are composed of rocks from the Palliser, Banff, Rundle formations.

At the end of it all, we had an open house in our studio cabin in the woods and decorated the walls with our design work and photographs and had lots to discuss with everyone who came through to see our productivity.

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