As most sane-thinking residents of British Columbia continue their efforts to save the Great Bear Rainforest from becoming the oil industry’s next accident-waiting-to-happen, local Sea to Sky artist Chili Thom has found a way to pitch in as well. He recently took part in a sailing expedition along the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline tanker route with a handful of other Canadian artists as part of the Artists for and Oil-Free Coast project.
“The idea is to create a book of photos and art, and a documentary film, to show people who are unable to get up to that zone just how spectacular it is,” Chili says. “And why it is so integral to protect it. The one thing that really got driven into me was just how fragile the interdependence between everything just below the water’s surface, the intertidal zone and the land on the coast is… it’s all very connected.”
Chili is currently working on his painting, to be donated to the project and says that he intends to “create a piece that shows all three of those at-risk zones in one image – below the surface, the intertidal zone and the shore.”
Voted Whistler’s favourite artist for the past ten years by readers of the local newspaper, Chili’s rich and vibrant style is world-renowned for capturing the colours and sense of motion and time that so many outdoors lovers witness in the wild.
“I grew up in the forests and mountains of BC,” Chili says, “but to get up there into the Great Bear Rainforest was amazing. It is so massive and such a beautiful and incredible place. We saw wolf, lots of eagles, a mother and cub grizzly, porpoises, humpback whales, fin whales and tons of sea birds and tidal life. There really is no area quite like this anywhere else, to put it all at risk, not to mention our tourism and fishing industries , it just doesn’t make sense to me.”
The book, entitled <i>Canada’s Rainforest at Risk – Art for an Oil-Free Coast</i>, is set to be published fall 2012 from Raincoast Books. In the meantime Chili has put images up of some of his first kelp forest paintings since returning from the trip as he figures out his colour palette and theme for the larger piece. Find them on his Gallery Page
- Feet Banks