Monday, October 8, 2012

British Columbia & Happy Thanksgiving

British Columbia

The symbols of British Columbia, its provincial flower, the Pacific dogwood (Cornus nuttalli) and its animal, the Spirit Bear (also known as the Kermode bear, a white morph of the American Black Bear, Ursus americanus kermodei) cover the hand-carved map of BC in this linocut. The block was inked 'à la poupée' (with different colours, green and gold, in different areas) and printed by hand on lovely Japanese kozo (or mulberry) paper. Each print is 23.5 cm by 31.8 cm (9.25" by 12.5"). The print is one of an edition of eight.

The lovely dogwood flowers thrive along the west coast, and can even be found aas far north as Haida Gwaii. The Pacific dogwood has been a symbol of British Columbia since 1956. Once protected it is now considered secure and not at risk of extinction. The same fate is hoped for the newest symbol of the province, the Spirit Bear. This colour morph of the Black Bear is due to recessive alleles common in the population. Genetically, this means they are more like human redheads than albinos. National Geographic estimates the spirit bear population at 400-1000 individuals. Because of their ghost-like appearance, "spirit bears" hold a prominent place in the oral stories of the First Nations people of BC. They were named after the Kermode Bear after Francis Kermode, former director of the Royal B.C. Museum, who researched the subspecies.

I was never lucky enough to spy a spirit bear in the temperate rainforest of Canada's west coast, but saw many dogwood. I was a bit torn when designing this linocut. The provincial bird is the Stellar's Jay, which was very common and a bird I saw quite regularly when I lived on Vancouver Island. In the end though, there is something magical about the Spirit Bear and it was on my 'to do' list of animals to depict in linocuts.

I hope everyone celebrating had a great Thanksgiving long weekend! I know Minouette loves any holiday which involves turkey. This is a photo RJH took two years ago. He titled it "Turkey Dazed". I hope this is how you are feeling, but not too much.


No comments: