The Forgotten
By Mia Johnson

THE FORGOTTEN is a large-scale, powerful series of portraits of women’s faces. Sixty-nine portraits, to be precise – the number of women from Vancouver’s downtown eastside who have been missing for more than a decade. The majority of them have now been identified, yet the public’s knowledge of them has, for the most part, consisted of small police photos aligned in a grid on a poster, showing most of them as blurred and haggard representations at their worst.

At one time these women had multiple faces and roles in the community. They left thousands of memories and historical details. They were mothers, friends, wives or daughters. They had run from abusive relationships, they were drug addicts, mentally challenged, or had families to support and little means to do it other than prostitution. Many were First Nations people. [In the year 2008], 26 of the missing women have been identified as slain by Port Coquitlam farmer Robert Pickton.

The horrific tragedy has affected creative persons – artists, photographers, writers and musicians – in a myriad of ways. Some artists want to create a memorial to the women through their work; some want to advocate for sex-trade workers; some want to personally work through the senseless anguish and pain. Many are drawn to the police photos themselves. Volunteer artists working for the Eden Project are re-drawing the faces, giving each one a warmer presentation so they’ll be remembered as victims, not criminals. “Dorette”, a Vancouver artist, has drawn and painted small images of the poster pictures repeatedly in an effort to find meaning.

The most intense and commanding project to date about these women, their stories and their plight is a searing initiative by Vancouver artist Pamela Masik. Believing it is our collective responsibility to support and empower individuals of high risk, Masik is painting each woman on a 8 x 10 foot canvas using a style raw with energy and passion. The cinematic scale by itself is scary. She is taking the tiny faces off the poster and forcing us to see the narratives of sadness, anger and fear.

The process is not an easy one. Masik has immersed herself in their stories and the details of the last sightings through their families and social records. She has been deeply challenged by the physical and psychological demands of painting each one on such a large scale. Each enormous portrait is densely layered with powerful brushwork, collaged with personal information and materials, slashed with deep cuts, sewn with stitches, and emblazoned with text written by Masik.

The FORGOTTEN portraits are designed to provoke a personal emotional reaction – something that is becoming harder and harder to accomplish. One hundred years ago, news that a man nicknamed “Jack the Ripper” killed five prostitutes sent shock waves across Western countries that still reverberate. Yet a monstrous anomaly in today’s news is like just another body in a television show like CSI.

Are human beings wired to accept only just so much horror? Are we selective about what we respond to? And should we be? These are the kinds of questions that motivate Masik.
Some of the women will fade like ghosts because little, if anything, is known about them. Many, hopefully, will be memorialized and the healing process begun for those who knew them. But Masik’s project shouts at us. It speaks of women marginalized in societal structures, made dependent and disillusioned about their own power and self-worth. It points to our own geographic and spiritual distance from them. After all, they are not where we live; they are “downtown”; they are sick, or poor, or “on drugs”. We might even think they could help themselves if they really wanted to. We certainly believe other people will help them if we don’t. They are invisible both physically and socially in the alleys where we don’t go, behind cars where we can’t see them, in buildings we will never visit.

This is the moral distance that Masik goes, to make us see their faces and hear their voices, to force us to face the passion, anger and despair in lives and deaths like these. She brings the missing women to us and wraps us in the violence.


By Mia Johnson

David Haughton has made a significant contribution to his growing body of work with Deja-Vu: Remembrances of Past Journeys. Based on an extensive collection of pencil drawings he created while travelling through Europe during the 1980s, this new series seems to capture in acrylics the essence of memory itself.

Haughton brings us the loose and calligraphic lines of Greece with its abrupt and rocky islands; the towering Normandy cliffs against the sea; the yellow ochres of fields in France; and the deep red clay hills of Italy. There are vistas of roads through Spain, Moorish mountain fortresses in Northern Africa and a flash of Hungary. The images are very small in scale, more like real lived moments than memoirs. We’re given glimpses of the sea between deep V-shaped hills, or, in the Ksours and Kasbah (Afternoon Light) paintings, silent views of ancient buildings between strong foreground branches. With the exception of several panoramic long views of Castille, Spain, most formats are more square than horizontal. Buildings, walls and trees feel tucked into their landscapes: his imagery goes inwards, on a z axis, rather than sideways.

In the series Stone Walls and Fields, the images give a wonderful tangled impression of boulders pushing out through dry grasses. In this, they are more about shape and space than the kinds of intense forms and colours in earlier work. At his best, Haughton projects deep layers of imagery receding back plane by plane, as he has done in House with Blue Gate and Through the Vines.

He is a master of negative spaces. These have as much to say in his work as the positive. A church on a hill becomes, instead, a pattern of windows punctuating an opening in the hills. The opening in the hills becomes, in turn, the silhouette of a chapel. In Chapel with Eucalyptus Trees (Afternoon), the spaces between the branches of the trees are more emphatic than the branches themselves. In Triptych/Grand Canal and Village with Dovecotes, the buildings are dotted with Haughton’s enchanting iconography for windows: quick jots of casually aligned brushstrokes.

This palette is entirely southern in feel, with a range of Mediterranean blues predominating: turquoise, cerulean, manganese and aquamarine against the deep yellows and crimson reds. Dry surfaces in works like View from the Ridge I and II are scumbled like the aging, crumbling walls themselves. By conjouring the rough, dry plaster and clay of the walls and turrets, these paintings appear to absorb light rather than reflect it. This quality gives them as intensely arid a sensation as his previous paintings of the British Columbia coastal region area felt drenched and cold.

Again, Haughton reveals his drawing skills in blithe touches that run like mice along the delicate outlines of forms. His lines show an absolute joy in their curves and pauses. Foliage, walls, dwellings and paths are loose yielding clumps of colour, defined here and there with a stroke or two of contoured edge. Thin fleshy washes define skin-like stretched hills, like mounds of softly kneaded colour. The paintings appear full of unconsummated longing and desire, yearning and reaching.

Rambling, picaresque, framed by his roving eye, Deja-Vu is less about drama and more about description. Perhaps because each image is singular rather than part of a diptych or triptych, they have more picture plane depth. However, the bronze, box-like frames that enclose them affirm their status as art objects rather than windows to the world.



Sculpture Garden at Hastings House
Salt Spring Island BC, May-November, 2008

Salt Spring Island, the largest of the Gulf of Georgia islands stretching from northern Washington to British Columbia, is described as “the jewel of the Southern Gulf Islands.” Located off the east coast of Vancouver Island, Salt Spring is home to a large colony of artists and artisans. It is particularly renowned for its stone masons and fine woodworkers.

Continuing through the summer and early fall, an innovative sculpture project has been created by Celia Duthie and Nicholas Hunt of Salt Spring Woodworks Gallery. The joint venture showcases work in two adjacent locations by artists from Salt Spring Island and British Columbia.

The sculpture garden at Hastings House is open by appointment to the public through arrangements with Salt Spring Woodworks Gallery. There is also a 1.5 kilometre public sculpture trail that can be accessed from Churchill Road above Hastings House.

Sculpture Garden
Visitors travelling from the Long Harbour ferry to the town of Ganges will glimpse a startling installation in a pasture at the intersection of Upper Ganges and Churchill Road. Clad in cape-like wraps fashioned from red car hoods, The Gatherers by Denman Island’s Michael Dennis, guest feature artist, is a capricious lineup of nine figurative artworks ranging from five to eight feet. Like ancient warriors coming over the hill, the striking figures inspire a mix of trepidation, curiosity and amusement.

At the entrance to the Hasting House drive, visitors are greeted by Michael Dennis’ Sentinel, a tall figurative sculpture carved from natural red cedar that is both welcoming and vigilant. In the distant field can be seen another series of his work: Redheads, a line of blackened cedar figures with metal heads resembling exotic women in wild headgear, or a new and curious species of barnyard life.

Six additional art pieces are installed at Hastings House, which was built between 1900 and 1940 as a working farm on 22 lush acres of gardens, meadowland and forest. It is now home to the Hastings House Country House Hotel. The property echoes the charm and elegance of an English country manor with its luxurious flower beds, gently sweeping lawns and winding walkways, with a wishing well and sunlit terraces overlooking the Ganges harbour.

The open-faceted form of Nike by Michael Dennis conjures up the Winged Victory of Samothrace. Dennis’ Nike, referring to the Greek goddess of wind, it was originally shaped from cedar and then cast in bronze. The colossal grey sculpture, like an ancestral shadow, is prominently located outside the Manor House in the shade of an enormous red cedar tree.

Nearby stands Sandstone & Red Brick Pillar by Ron Crawford, a master stonemason and noted painter on the island. The towering structure, complete with capstone, was hand-built for the Sculpture Garden from hundreds of carefully selected stones.

Ghost Salmon by Paul Burke, from the Blue Horse Folk Art Gallery on Salt Spring Island, consists of three saucy, slightly iridescent hand-carved salmon on plinths climbing the lawn in front of the harbour. A lone figure is seated at the crest of the hill: Here & Here, a sand-blasted terra cotta and hydrostone sculpture by Salt Spring’s Kathy Venter.

Reminiscent of abrased figurative art from the early Greeks, the serene piece has beautiful hand and face details. A third installation, Ponticus, by the island’s “mad metalsmith” Michael Robb, mixes salvaged metals welded and molded into a mysterious figure evoking a moose-like creature or the Egyptian jackal Anubis. In a nearby garden is Pas de Deux, a whimsical pair of child-sized bronze chairs by Vancouver sculptor Peter Pierobon that are finished with a green patina and tipped off balance as if tussling.

Sculpture Trail
In the mossy forest above Hastings House, guests are invited to walk along cedar bark paths where outdoor site sculptures using natural and found materials have been built. The public sculpture trail is a developing exhibit that will have pieces of art added throughout the season.

One of the most interesting pieces is Rewind/Fast Forward, a fictional archeological “dig” by Salt Spring artists Illtyd Perkins and Nicholas Hunt. It combines pottery shards from the work of local artists with objects unearthed nearby from a former dump site they describe as a “late colonial midden”. Complete with historical display boards and digging tools, the conceptual work is ironic and whimsical.

Closeby is a massive project by UBC M.F.A. graduate Susanna Kong. Taken from her 2007 Salvage exhibition, the towering piece is suggestive of Smithson’s Spiral Jetty. Around the bend on a trail below, Stefanie Denz’s Ascension climbs the trees. Using pieces of metal screen tied with wire cables in ascending staggered layers, she extends her belief in the environment as “interchangeable with what occupies it.”

Denz’s delicate touch can also be seen in her ephemeral paintings at the Salt Spring Woodworks Gallery. At the top of the trail, two pillars made of long willow branches form Vessels constructed by Melanie Thompson and Steve Paterson.

Placed near the trail opening on Churchill Road is Act of Faith by Ron Crawford. The hanging rock, suspended from trees far above the path, both entices and dares visitors to enter the sculpture trail and begin their exploration.

Salt Spring Woodworks, a gallery of fine furniture and outdoor sculpture, is owned by Celia Duthie and Nicholas Hunt. Specializing in the decorative arts in wood, they show and represent many of the best furniture makers, woodworkers, joiners and turners in British Columbia.

The constantly changing collection includes country, folk and rustic pieces by artists like Jim Barker, Wes Giesbrecht and West Coast design company Button Design, and exquisite one-of-a-kind and limited-edition fine and studio furniture by artists like Judson Beaumont and Illtyd Perkins. They also exhibit a lively collection of paintings and sculptures by Salt Spring artists.


By Mia Johnson, December 2009

Lina Delano’s assemblages thematically refer to the story of Joan of Arc, with additional references to Isis, Eurydice and other “foolish” hearts. Assembled from relics, souvenirs and artifacts – some objects mysterious, with their original purpose lost or forgotten – they express a repertoire of human emotions. They are by turns ironic and lyrical, classic and romantic.

The artworks at first glance appear dark, intense and possibly ominous (like an excavation, or a glimpse inside a wall). On closer examination they have a whimsical touch and an intelligent, sardonic humour. Delano has composed her constructions like shrines, each framed and offset with an informal balance. Many are anchored with small heads or busts. She has integrated relics and clusters of found objects, shards of pottery and bone, fragments of driftwood, scraps of lead type, the residue of broken toys with a 19th Century sensibility, and snippets of wire in meticulous presentations.

The three-dimensional collages she describes as “intentionally ambiguous” in theme nevertheless have clarity of form and style. Delano frequently arranges natural materials, including stone, marble, wood and tree branches, in sophisticated borders and patterns. A heart-shaped box of chocolates is played off against a wire heart stapled to the backing. Stencilled wooden blocks, ironing boards, polished stone spheres, abacus beads and rods – all are used as compositional elements to strengthen the forms and surprise the viewer. There is little left to chance but much left to the imagination.

Lina Delano’s personal history is likewise filled with intrigue and romance. Born in Vancouver, British Columbia, she emigrated from Vancouver in 1944 to Los Angeles, where she attended the Otis Art Institute. She was forced to leave Hollywood with her husband, a screen writer, in the era of McCarthyism. In the early 1960s, during Europe’s heady Nouveau Vogue years, she worked in Rome’s film industry with Federico Fellini and Marcel Mastroianni. She began creating her distinctive assemblages in London, England in 1972. Almost 40 years ago, they were described as “hallowed by the patina of age and the dignity of antique craftsmanship” by the London Arts Review. Delano subsequently maintained a studio in New York City for 30 years, with frequent trips across “the pond” to London. Now settled again in Vancouver, at the age of 87 she continues to live and work in the Commercial Drive area.

The term “assemblage” was introduced to the North American public in 1961 by curator William C. Seitz for the exhibition The Art of Assemblage at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. The show, which featured the work of Duchamp, Braque, Picasso and Robert Rauschenberg among others, described assemblages as being made of preformed natural or manufactured materials, objects, or fragments not originally intended as art materials. Lina Delano’s assemblages provide a rare glimpse into the mind and life of a sophisticated, worldly woman and post-Dadaist artist.


A series of 22 short essays written for the City of Surrey Public and Community Art Collection, posted on the City of Surrey Tourism website. Please use their locator maps to find the following articles:

1. Manadala After Prayer Wheel
2. Growth
3. On the Wind
4. Winged Lion Woman
5. Four Elements
6. A Million Summers
7. From Frozen Ponds
8. Newton Community Art Mosaics
9. Terra Incognita
10. The Meeting of Mind and Body
11. The Jungle Project
12. Memory Stones
13. All Intertwining
14. Redwood Forest Mysteries
15. Multiples of Three
16. Fleetwood Mosaics and Ceramics Mural
17. Out of Thin Air
18. Stillpoint
19. From the Centre Outwards
20. Tree of Knowledge
22. Convergence

Sample article

Multiples of Three is a distinctive landscape sculpture that acts as a fence fronting the Fleetwood Booster Pump Station. Chunky steel shapes resembling large, geometric jigsaw pieces are welded into three groups and aligned asymmetrically along a base of granite slabs.

Argentina-born sculptor Alberto Replanski designed the flat sections to be arranged three-dimensionally to make a row of stand-up cutouts. Through window-like negative spaces, he invites visitors to view the more conventional pump station. The rhythmic line and the connected pieces have a modernist sensibility. They are cleverly designed to play light against shadow, concave shapes against convex, and voids against solids.

Replanski’s work emphasizes the play of Cor-Ten steel against natural materials, especially granite and marble. He follows the tradition of British sculptor Sir Anthony Caro, who created revolutionary assemblages, welded and bolted, of factory-produced metals in the 70s and 80s. Like Caro, Replanski has finished the Fleetwood sculpture with a patina of rust to dramatize the fundamental beauty of the metal.

Replanski has taught sculpture at the Vancouver Academy of Art since 1998. He was the driving force behind Portals of the Future outside the Richmond Cultural Centre, when twelve sculptors transformed 20 tons of limestone into works of art during a three-month period in 2000.

Courtesy City of Surrey Public and Community Art Collection