What really happened with my LUNA project: The Drifters.
I woke up around 530 am on a hotter than average spring morning… Why so early? Probably because I crushed a few too many ciders in the sun the day before and passed out hard before the sun even set. Regardless… I set foot outside as soon as I woke up and the sun is hard at work already. Bikini weather to be precise. What a perfect day to get out on the boat, right?
So here we are, floating on Lake Revelstoke, telling beers, and drinking stories. One friend starts talking about a relative famous for his driftwood art and scandalous affairs, then another jumps into the conversation telling us about his driftwood collection, and another friend tells us about how she built her patio out of driftwood… Suddenly I felt less alone with my obsession for driftwood. I’ve always made fun of myself for having a wood collection, but seems like these guys love driftwood just as much as I do… guess we’re all on the same boat! Pun intended.
I love walking by the water and picking up driftwood. The smoother the better! When I lived in Whistler, Tofino was my main source of driftwood. I accumulated so many that I decided to paint and show them in my first ever art show (State of the Art, WSSF). My first driftwood art attempt got a lot positive feedback so it made me want to recreate it at a bigger scale… When I moved to Revelstoke a few years later, I realized that even away from the sea, I could still find an infinite supply of AAA grade driftwood, right by the rivers, The Columbia River to be exact. I was STOKED. Every time we’d dock on a beach, I’d make piles of my top picks of the day in hopes that I can sneak them back on the boat without my boyfriend calling me hoarder.. The reality is, I’m not a hoarder, I’m a maker. I love making things. And driftwood is one of my many sources of inspiration.
A few months go by…
On a dark winter morning, I’m enjoying nice cup of maple syrup with a little bit of coffee while reading the local paper. One of the ads says: Call for Artists – Luna Festival. Immediately, I’m intrigued. What’s Luna? What kind of artists are they looking for? Is this my calling for a driftwood project? I sent in my application, and after a few weeks of crossing all my fingers and toes, in hopes that I would be chosen, I finally got an email from the Visual Arts Centre! I’m IN!!! YOOHOO! Driftwood art, here we go!
At first, I though: easy peasy! All I need is to get the driftwood, paint it pretty and screw it to a wall and we are set! But that’s ludicrous. Nothing ever goes exactly according to plan. It went more like a series of unexpected events. Here’s how it goes:
Unexpected event #1: The Water Level.
At the beginning of the summer, the beaches were loaded with perfectly smooth and shiny driftwood logs just asking to be picked. However, the level of Lake Revekstoke got so high over the summer that the all the beaches were submerged. The only wood left was the one floating on the edges of the lake, meaning that it’s now wet, heavy, and way trickier to collect. Trickier, but not impossible. I spent a full day driving the bumpy logging roads surrounding the lake, dragging heavy af logs into my once “cleaner” car. I got it all home and laid it outside to dry. This happened during the forest fires when the whole town was smoked out so it looked like I was trying to smoke my wood – just to add to the weirdo-hoarder factor (eye roll). Finally, the sun takes all the humidity out but then I got worried about bugs living in there. I can’t take the risk to have bugs because it’s going inside The Explorers Society Hotel… Fortunately, I had a pressure washer handy so I lined up all the wood and just went HAM in every single creases. One thing I overlooked during that step though, is that, pressure washing would take all of the shine & smoothness away from the wood… Which is THE ONE thing that makes driftwood so special. Needless to say, I felt pretty silly on my way to buy a bunch of sand paper & varnish in hopes to find that shine back… Luckily, the shine did come back, but the time I spent doing it is gone forever.
Unexpected event #2: The Location.
To give a bit of a back story, Luna is Revelstoke’s own nocturnal light festival focused on interactive art. The kick off party takes place downtown Revy and festival goers can see and participate in different art installations. Luna paired me with the elegant Explorers Society hotel, which is a modern heritage boutique hotel. In other words, the concrete walls in the lobby are part of the original building, and drilling driftwood into them would probably be illegal. So you can imagine how hard the wheels were turning in my head when I realized that I had to find a new way to display 7 large pieces of driftwood, without any attachement to the wall… Thankfully, Luna gives artists a $500 budget for their project, which came in very handy because the solution wasn’t cheap. With the help of Mount Begbie Machine Works, I got 7 steel stands made to keep my pieces standing on their own. Unfortunately, those stands are not invisible so that brings me to the next step.
Unexpected event #3, The Stands.
I had to find a way to hide the stands because it took away from the main attraction. Since we’re in the driftwood/river/beach aesthetic, why don’t I recreate the riverside rocks with some hand made sand bags. Not only it’ll hide the base, but it’ll also put extra weight on the stands to make them sturdier. A trip to Fabric Land and MANY hours (that I don’t have) later, everything seems to be ready for the show. However, at the last minute, while sewing my rock-looking sand bags, I thought to myself: “Wait a minute, I need this piece to be interactive. Right now all I have is a display, but no interaction…” I had to think for a minute and this is where the bunnies came into play. I decided to sew a couple of backpack bunnies for people to wear at the party as an extension of the main piece. You’ll see why in the pictures… But for now, my piece is done and I can’t wait to set it up for the show!
You know summer is over when it smells like Fall on a crisp September morning. I had arrange to install my piece early that day with the help of the friendly hotel manager. He made sure to test drive the backpack bunnies, and as for myself, I went back to bed, to catch up on sleep after this long, exhausting journey of unexpected events.
The Kick off Party
It was pouring rain on opening night, but Revy’s finest locals are not made of chocolate, in fact, they are made of Gore-tex. Bouncing with my friends from one piece to another, I was fascinated to see how diversified and animated Luna turned out for it’s first ever edition! From occupying Mackenzie street, to dancing to the beats of the Explorers after-party, to catching a breath of fresh air in the umbrella alley…It was the perfect event to brighten up the rainy season. My flask was empty so it was time to go to bed, but just before leaving, a man came up to me and said: “My daughter really loves your bunny backpack, can we keep it?” I told him: “Hell ya you can! If my art can make one person happy, I’m happy!” Funny enough, a few months later, I’m taking a walk in the neighbourhood, and I see something familiar in the corner of my eye. There’s the bunny! Still alive and well, just chilling on the patio. That made my day 🙂
Catch the Drift
The Drifters are still in drifting mode but they would love to finally settle in a location where they can shine to their full potential. Either on their original stands or fixed on a wall, they dream of being a statement piece and a conversation starter. If you feel like welcoming a unique piece of art made by a local artist into your home or business, catch the drift: email@example.com
Contact me here to purchase or display “The Drifters”