Margaret Witzsche, Painting

Salt   Sweet   Bitter

Shown at Gibsons Public Art Gallery as  Looseness in the current


The paintings are a free interpretation of my study and thoughts on the Fraser River.  I grew up beside the Fraser, experiencing the love and fear that one has as a child, of swift and dangerous current, the equally dangerous log booms accessed easily from shore, the wildlife, beauty, wonderful scent of the river.  Through poetry, I explore my family history on the river, the history of the sturgeon and the ecology of the river.  I am concerned and amazed at how the river continuously renews itself, as do other major rivers throughout the world, while remaining a working river.  I’m hopeful, how with help, the Fraser will recover from the degradations of industry, over-fishing, the problems of our simply living alongside and the heavy weight of our building on the fragile flood plain. 

I began the series with semi-abstract paintings.  I wrote on the paintings with coloured pencil, erasing and rewriting to form what began to be a kind of palimpsest, reminding me of the river bottom, how it is continuously renewed by the current.  In the paintings I represent the underwater structures of piers and log booms.  Following, my focus was more on cross sections of the logs, how logs might behave if they separate from the booms to settle, forming habitat for river life.  The log images also serve as representations of cycles of life, of fish eggs and underwater river life.  Two of the paintings show images of sturgeon as ghost fish among the supports for wharfs.  

Work on the paintings followed several years of writing poems about the river and very much depend on them for imagery and feel. 

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