Sunday, September 9, 2018

Inspired - Dumoine River Art Camp 2017 - Part II

"The next day we set off to explore, using the buddy system for safety.  Several of us set up at Grande Chute while others canoed further down Robinson Lake to the next set of rapids. The river trail along the Chute is rough, and has spectacular rock falls with some boulders the size of small houses.  One could only imagine what the people travelling in this area felt thousands of years ago. Like us they must have been in awe of the power of the water and like us they also feared the churning rapids – and one could only wonder how many travellers have been swept away by the swirling currents. 

"Hear the Rapids Roar" wall plate by  Eva Gallagher inspired by stay at Dumoine River Art Camp. Photo credit - Scott Haig 2017.

In the evening we sat around the campfire and traded stories of canoe trips and art experiences.  We also discussed Wally Schaber’s book on the Dumoine, “The Last of the Wild Rivers” and how important the River was to First Nations people as a north/south highway. 
The Indian Point Pot
I had brought clay for everyone to make a pot the way the aboriginal people made them here thousands of years ago as evidenced by the “Indian Point Pot”. Radiocarbon dated at 2500 years BP (before present), it was excavated during an archaeological dig at Indian Point across from Deep River in the early 1950’s and is now on display at the Museum of Civilization in Ottawa. One evening we sat around the fire, surrounded by the dark forest and silence, channeling spirits from the past. We coiled the clay into a beehive shape that was then turned over and pinched, paddled and scraped into a thin open vase. It could have been an evening thousands of years ago, our hands repeating the same motions made millennia ago and resulting in pots very similar to the Indian Point Pot – with a flared lip and a rounded bottom to better withstand the thermal shock of cooking over open fires.
Eva Gallagher (center) demonstrates how  First Nations first made pottery in this area thousands of years ago. Photo credit Scott Haig 2017.
I came back from the camp energized, ready to continue working on several pieces that I had started at the camp. In October CPAWS hosted a very successful gala and silent auction of the donated art in Gatineau at “The Moore Farm”, a National Capitol Region restored post and beam barn that is open to hosting various events. With featured guests, singer/songwriter Ian Tamblyn, artist/environmentalist Robert Bateman, the event raised over $11,000 for the Dumoine River project." 
The idea of an art camp - that idea of bringing together artists to work on a common theme are becoming more popular and I highly recommentd this type of experience . Hopefully CPAWS is going to offer another Dumoine Art Camp in August 2019 so in interested look to apply early in the spring.of 2019.

Inspired - Dumoine River Camp 2017 Part I

Again I am way behind in my blogging so here's my effort to catch up by reprinting an article that I wrote about the Dumoine River Art Camp last August 2017. - my first art camp experience! The Dumoine River is a famous canoeing river that joins the Ottawa River about 20 miles west of Deep River. My article was first printed in our local paper the North Renfrew Times last year.

"Mention the Dumoine River and it conjures up scenes of rapids, lakes, canoe paddles and portages. But art? Not so much! But that is what The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society – Ottawa Chapter (CPAWS-OV) was offering to artists last August – an Art Camp on the Dumoine. There was  one this year as well!
         Bridge over \Grande Chute attracts art camp participants. Photo credit - Scott Haig 2017

It is all part of CPAWS-OV effort to raise funds to preserve the Dumoine River as a protected wilderness river for future generations. As they state on their website, “it is the last un-dammed Quebec tributary of the Ottawa River and one of only a few rivers in central Canada free of dams.”
In return for offering free tent accommodation and meals (CPAWS staff turned out to be excellent cooks!), the artist would get to stay for up to 6 days at the camp. They would then donate a work of art, inspired by their stay, for a silent auction at a gala in Ottawa in October. Here was an chance to meet other creative people in a unique environment. Always open to new artistic opportunities I applied as the life of an artist is not a destination but a journey.                 
 We were to camp at Lake Robinson, that widening of the Dumoine River just below Grande Chute. To minimize parking, we met up in Swisha to carpool to the Lake. Kids leaving for their first summer camp couldn’t have been more excited than our group! It was a challenge to load all our sleeping bags and mats, folding chairs, boxes and suitcases of art supplies, easels, cameras, and tripods, including my box of clay and tools into the few cars that would be driving up the rough road.
Although it has been many years since I have been up the Dumoine, I still remember that first drive over 50 years ago – up along the rough road past the old Bonanza Inn and the long-closed downhill ski hill and tow on the hill opposite. It was always an adventure there to drive into the unknown, but one always had to be wary of meeting a fully loaded lumber truck that might come around the corner. One year we even skied to Grand Chute after driving part of the way. 

Lake Robinson Campground

The fifteen artists who attended were a pretty diverse group, not only in age, spanning six decades – but also in artistic media. There were several photographers, a glass artist, botanical illustrators, acrylic and watercolour artists, both realistic and abstract and of course potters. We came from as far away as North Bay, Vankleek Hill, Ottawa, Pembroke, Shawville and southern Ontario. There were two of us from Deep River, photographer Bruce Winterbon and myself.
As part of our orientation, one of the CPAWS staff – conservation biologist Elena Kreuzberg took us on a nature tour. The Dumoine watershed is huge, covering 4400 km2 with some of the last remaining stands of old-growth forest in eastern North America. The area is also important as a connection between Algonquin and La Vérendryer Parks, acting as a corridor for animals moving further north from southern areas. This will be even more important as the climate continues to get warmer."