Doubt.

Many years ago I made my first visit to Quebec. I spent the month of October in Quebec City as an exchange artist with Paul Beliveau. The people I met were optimistic, friendly and curious about the rest of Canada. Most were widely travelled outside of Canada but within its borders few had ventured beyond Ontario and the Maritimes. It was the year of Expo ‘86 and many who came to Vancouver were stunned by the hospitality and friendliness they encountered. It seemed they had been brought up to think of the rest of Canada as the “other” and did not expect such acceptance.

Les Amis DeQuebec 2
Title: Les Ami de Quebec 2.

Two years later, in 1988, I returned to work in Quebec City on the invitation of L’Atelier de Realisations Graphiques de Quebec. The mood had changed. A few months earlier the nation had participated in Meech Lake. Now the optimism had faded and a saddened resolve seemed to be taking hold; if they weren’t wanted they would have to go it alone. It was after this second trip that I began working on the installation that became known as Doubt. For several months I worked from the two slides that had haunted me. One slide showed a group with wine glasses around a table in a back yard; taken at one of the many evening parties in Quebec. The other slide was taken when I returned to Vancouver in the late fall; our trees were golden, leaves were falling and the back yard was empty. The contrast of mood in the two images gnawed at my subconscious and seemed to represent the different paths the nation could take. One was of happy camaraderie,warmth and generosity while the other showed the emptiness and feeling of loss that would surely follow separation. When the installation was finished I sent proposals to several galleries but could find none who were interested. Separation in the eighties was not taken seriously so it was not relevant. I decided not to send the idea to a Quebec gallery for fear of in some way offending them. Eventually, about sixty people as part of an art tour, viewed it in my studio with very favourable response as to the importance of the message.

It is now easier for me to look at it critically and see the ironies. My first response to the slides was to make photo etchings of them since this was how I was working at the time. Next, I did watercolour monoprints of the same images. Later, I made linocuts and finally I painted a large acrylic painting of the same images and it was on this painting that I projected the text of opposites: Love, Hate, Trust, Distrust, etc. The irony is that I was attacking the problem that I had set for myself in the same way the federal government grappled with the separation issue. I used the same images (model) over and over; hoping that each new technique would somehow convey the urgency for dialogue and understanding. The government did the same; repeating the same mistakes, the same arguments, every time they addressed Quebec discontent. As I view this project now I notice that the table is the same in the Quebec shot as it is in the Vancouver picture. Does the table become a symbol of a people; we are all the same but will we be recipients to happiness or of isolation and discord?

This was an installation at artists’ studio in 1991 consisting of a large painting with text projected on the surface followed by a talk and discussion.