Raincoast at risk uniting B.C. artists
Fifty prominent British Columbian artists are picking up paint brushes and sculpting tools to protest Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline — and two Cowichan Valley artists are joining them.
Portrait painter David Goatley of Shawnigan Lake, and Collin Elder, an up-and-coming Lake Cowichan artist, have been invited to accompany well-known artists Robert Bateman and Roy Henry Vickers on the Artists for an Oil-free Coast project sponsored by Raincoast Conservation Foundation.
These 50 painters and sculptors will travel to the Great Bear Rainforest on British Columbia’s west coast, which extends roughly from Powell River to the Alaska boundary,
Their aim is to produce art that will show Canadians what is at risk if an oil spill should occur as a result of transporting tar sands through the region.
Elder was surprised but delighted to get the call.
“I’m one of the lesser-known artists for sure. This is huge for me in so many ways. It connects my past to my art so well.”
Elder started painting just over two years ago after working as an environmental conservationist for many years.
“This is one of the reasons I wanted to get into my art: I really like to use art to create dialogue,” he said.
Elder believes using art as a means to sway public opinion is a positive way to affect change.
“It’s opposing a project but it’s doing it with a ton of beautiful, amazing artwork.”
In contrast with Elder’s status as an emerging artist, Goatley is well-established. His resume of about 300 commissioned portraits includes official parliamentary portraits of Prime Minister Kim Campbell and Speaker Gilbert Parent as well as three lieutenant-governors, artists, business leaders, academics and families.
He believes his role in this project is to paint the people who live in the affected area.
“In the news, in the next several months, we will hear from the First Nations people whose land the pipeline will come through, and where the tankers are going to pass by,” he said.
“They are not happy about it. I want to give those voices a face.”
Goatley understands most people haven’t had the opportunity to visit the Great Bear Rainforest, which he says may be one reason why it is under threat.
He feels the project will help people connect with what’s at stake.
“You’re getting 50 unique points of view on an issue; 50 different takes gives hope for a greater understanding of the issue.”
Once complete, the 50 pieces of art will be toured across Canada and published in a book entitled Canada’s Raincoast at Risk: Art for an Oil-Free Coast.
To learn more about the project, click here.