Project: Glacial echoes

These works focus on the changes present in the landscape of the Rocky Mountains; while researching locations and traveling to the mountains for flux, I was able to compare archive imagery of those same places. The difference between the experience of being in that space and the older imagery was striking – in some places glacier no longer exist, or are much reduced. This is just one part of climate change, and part of a much larger, complex system even within the watershed, but it remains a very visible one and one close to home for many Albertans.

Each of the works looks at how climate change has impacted Alberta’s glaciers through the repeat photography process. I wanted to use specific locations well known to those in Alberta to express just how much glaciers here have changed over the last 100 years. While we are used to images of a shrinking Antarctica, or Greenland melting at an unprecedented rate, it always seems less urgent than when it is close to home.

I was very fortunate to receive access to archive imagery provided by the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies in Banff. Coupled with my own photos and experiences, I selected several well known, iconic locations in the National Parks of Jasper and Banff to work with. Digital imagery comprises the more recent work, while etching was used for the imagery pulled from the archives.

Originally many of the images by Byron Harmon would have been used in marketing for the fledgling tourism industry – the survey images were used to map the ‘unknown wilderness’ of the mountains, and to definitively place the Alberta/BC provincial boundary. These images set in place a colonial narrative of Canadian national parks – my more recent images play on that aspect of tourism, but also question how much ‘preservation of wilderness’ is possible when policies allow oil and gas emissions, or coal exploration in the eastern slopes.