The Landscape of Shorelines – Charlotte Jones
[excerpt from catalogue essay]
Shorelines is a project that explores the many readings of the term, shorelines and specific coastal landscapes through the forms of multimedia, photographic and video installation by Canadian and Irish artists.
This essay will outline the history of the project, give some background information on The Port au Port locations and briefly look at how both this information and the site visits have folded into the work of the artists. Trevor Bell examines the effect of climate change on the physical landscapes and the implications for archaeological research, issues of import in both regions; and Ciaran Walsh discourses on the revitalization of the Irish language and culture. Although his comments relate to the Irish language, the issues raised by him, likewise bear on the similar revitalization of the French and Mi’kmaq cultures currently occurring on the Port au Port.
To explore these many readings of shorelines, we approached three Canadian artists and three artists based in Ireland and asked them to visit two regions: the Port au Port Peninsula on the west coast of Newfoundland; and Co. Kerry on the west coast of Ireland. We identified these specific and significant shorelines to explore how communities – human and otherwise respond to change and assembled background information about the locations that would inform the visits. We selected sites that were specially compelling for several reasons – cultural. historical, ecological and so on. These landscapes are quite beautiful and become even more intriguing given that these embody many layers of interest.
All the artists visited the Parr au Port together In early July 2008. Four of the artists made a similar visit to the west coast of Ireland in November 2009. Additionally. the Canadian artists visited the Port au Port to work with specific community groups and sites and participated in activities In order to connect with the communities.
Pierre LeBlanc participated in the annual St. Jean Baptiste Day walk from Boutte du Cap over to Mainland. This walk traces and retraces the trail. which historically linked the two francophone communities. The walk allowed the artist to explore his own Acadian background and to explore the Acadian diaspora as it evolved in Newfoundland.
Anne Troake enlisted he help of a group of young people from the Community Youth Group Network on the Port au Port. They threw rocks into the water from the beach at Mainland, which looks out to Red Island while the artist filmed them in action, and filmed the rocks underwater.
The third artist, Angela Antle, visited the francophone school in Cape St. George, Notre Dame du Cap. There she worked on a Journalism project with the Grade 4 and 5 students (ages nine to 11 approximately) in Victor Aucoin’s class. The students interviewed older friends and family about the major changes that they had seen over their lifetime on the Port au Port. Antle also invited the students to relate local ghost stories, which she recorded. She asked students to make drawings to illustrate the stories. She wove the recordings and image into six short films, which included clips of moving and still Images that the artist had taken during her initial site visit During Antle’s visit to Tralee and environs in Ireland, she interviewed high school students al the Irish-speaking school there.
The sites on the Port. au Port that we identified were; Port au Port West, Sheaves Cove, the trail between Boutte du Cap and Mainland, Mainland Beach and Red Island, Black Duck Brook and Blue Beach. In early July 2008, the six artists and two curators all visited the Port au Port.