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Artist Statement - November 9, 2004

The Treaty 2 Suite (Where IS Treaty Land?) comprises fifteen encaustic paintings based mostly on photographs taken in the vicinity of the ruins of Manitoba House, a former HBC trading post near The Narrows of Lake Manitoba. Manitoba House was recreated on it’s original site on the shore of Lake Manitoba in 1974 by a local Métis group, but that recreation has itself now fallen to ruin. Treaty 2 was negotiated and signed here in 1871 two weeks after the signing of Treaty No. 1. From what I have been able to learn, the discussion of the terms of this treaty were very short, with the terms of Treay No. 1 being quickly accepted by the bands who gathered at Manitoba House to meet with the treaty party.

Under the written terms of Treaty No. 2, the aboriginal signatories who are identified as "Chippewa", ceded an area three times larger than the territories ceded by "the Chippewa and Swampy Cree" under Treaty No. 1. These territories, to quote from a letter written by one of the treaty commissioners comprised 55,000 sqare miles of  “... territory good for farming , settling, etc....” , across much of central Manitoba and a portion of southern Saskatchewan. Several pictures in the suite are also based on photos taken on the Ebb and Flow First Nation (the first reserve surveyed following treaty) and at the fork of the Little Saskatchewan and Assiniboine Rivers near Brandon, Manitoba on the boundary between Treaty 1 and Treaty 2 territories.

It is impossible for me to speak about the land entirely outside of political or historical contexts. In most cases, my paintings are based on photos of rather unspectacular locales. I attempt in the paintings, to convey the idea that history can have a felt presence in a place. The paintings acknowledge the beauty of the land but they are essentially about place and history and the ways that image and surface can indicate meaning.

This work has been generously supported by the Manitoba Arts Council.