Themes: Relationships . Endurance . Team . Community . Expression
Grummans are known as hardy aluminum boats which don’t require a great paddling finesse when going through a rocky patch of river. So, it was with intention that I searched for a Grumman. Interestingly, very good friends of mine had one! Put out to pasture long ago, but still very functional once cleaned off, it had just the right number of knocks and dents to show it had once led a very active life. Of particular note for me, was that these friends had bought this boat the first year they were married, some 30 years ago. And yes, this piece is about enduring relationships.
On the belly of this canoe are over 100 pairs of hand prints from the many people, young and old – even some with four paws – who visited the studio. I had a paint palette at-the-ready. Visitors were invited to press their hands into paint and add their prints to the base of the canoe. A bucket of wash water was on the side. The collection of these hand prints came to represent those who stand by us, who uphold us and challenge us to grow, who show us grace and good humour, who help us to be better.
Not only did my friends generously give me the use of this old Grumman, they also posed as my main hand models. It is their hands featured on the bow and stern of this boat. Their hands press into the aluminum siding as though it were upholstery. Visual tension was created by painting a thin, red line which connects bow to stern and hand to hand. This is the “lifeline," an ever present, yet delicate, connection between people. Along the red string are scrawled fragments of poetry; words of love and affirmation, words of delight.
I have explored various ways to display this piece: with river rock, the mirrors, a ball of red string for gallery visitors to play with (a rather fun failure). It was especially effective to see how one gallery had the canoe hanging from the ceiling as though suspended in space!
“When the destination becomes gracious, the journey becomes an adventure of beauty.”
- John O’Donohue
- John O’Donohue