Newsletter #150: December, 2017
© Chris Harris. All rights reserved.
Merry Christmas to all!
Christmas sleigh ride at Spring Lake Ranch
Hi everyone, It’s been an exciting year; to say the least!
It started early with Rita deciding to enter provincial politics and run for the Green Party. Her daughter Teresa returned home to enter politics in her own way; as Rita’s campaign manager. There has never been a dull moment since!
Rita and daughter Teresa on the campaign trail
2017 was also the year Rita and I decided to reinvent our Gallery back to be an exciting and energizing place; as it had been before the priorities of book projects, and the financial and tourism effects of 2008 took us in another direction. Birgit Bienek joined our team, and together we pushed ahead with new plans.
In March, Ken Marshall and I entered our newly released documentary ‘The Chilcotin Ark’ at the Williams Lake Film Festival; that was a huge success.
Soon after, I visited my sister in Ireland to assist her re-adjust to home life after an extended period of hospitalization.
Walking through the Irish countryside: approaching storm
When May arrived, Dennis Ducklow and I were off to teach our annual photographic workshop at the Tallheo Cannery on the BC west coast. It was another highly creative event with many clients coming from outside the province. Dennis and I love this workshop; it’s a beehive of creativity.
Loft window with fishnets
I had a full slate of photographic adventures lined up for the summer, and with family members and a few friends anxiously awaiting their respective sojourns into the backcountry, we were all excited.
Then our world changed. We have always known that this region of BC is a fire landscape, but never had we experienced wildfire like this before. Suddenly, uncontrolled wildfire dictated our lives for two months. No one remained unaffected.
Contemplating the herd of cattle they had to find, and then push up the mountain, away from the encroaching fire.
In late August, just in time for our Tallheo workshop, Dennis and I broke through the last highway closures heading west. Fortunately, most of our clients flew to Bella Coola, and everything worked out to perfection. Another wonderful workshop was had by all!
Photographing the mist.
The autumn season was difficult as wildfires resulted in the absolute closure of highways and businesses. Needless to say, our Gallery plans were dashed, and I never made it out on any of my planned photographic outings. I did, however, have the opportunity to artistically express my entire wildfire experience. That opportunity in turn gave our community here a vehicle for telling and sharing their stories of the wildfires of 2017. Making the documentary ‘The Wildfire Summer of 2017’, was the highlight in sharing this powerful narrative.
“………A lot of people have asked me about the wildfires this summer, after my family and so many others were evacuated from their homes due to raging forest fires. This documentary takes us into the heart of the experience, with some truly breathtaking imagery and deeply personal stories from that wildfire summer, capturing the boundless beauty, strength, and renewal of our landscape and communities”. Andar Wärje
So here we are; it’s Christmas. In terms of being a creative artist, Rita has been in full production mode for some time now. Is it any wonder why her family and friends are so excited to be coming home for Christmas? Rita and I, the house, along with every pot, jar, or container that can possibly contain Christmas food, goodies, and cheer, are all anxiously waiting to welcome them!
In straw bale constructed buildings, window sills are deep, making them the perfect places for Rita to create Christmas stories for everyone to enjoy.
A Few Words about the Wildfire Documentary
Fire on the horizon
If you have received the link to the Wildfire documentary Ken and I created, but not seen it yet; or have not got the link, here it is, with a few reviews from viewers.
“I decided to check this out after watching the stunning collaboration by Harris/Marshall on their Chilcotin Ark documentary. It can be hard to grasp the immensity of events like this from media reports but this very personal account takes you into the heart of the drama as it unfolds. From the potential life changing uncertainty of the ‘natural disaster’, Harris and Marshall capture the intimate connection between nature and our lives, and transform this into an artistic expression of hope and renewal. I won’t look at another media report on wildfires the same way”. Ian Mitchell
It is not imagery of fire; it is an intimate expression about a wildfire experience.
It is not of loss and destruction, but about hope, renewal and the preparation for similar events in the future. For this I referred to Edward Struzik, a fellow at the Institute of Energy and Environment Policy at Queens University, author of the recently published book Firestorm, and leading authority on how to approach wildfire management in Canada in the 21st century. His words are wise and worth listening to.
I conclude with an image driven story called ‘Regeneration’, put to original music settings by composer Ken Marshall.
Solar eclipse in a burnt forest
Share ‘The Wildfire Summer of 2017’ with your family, especially youth. Our future depends on them.
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Thanks. See you in 2018!