Why camping is important to my art
I have gone camping since I was a little girl. My parents used to take my sisters and I to Algonquin and we would camp in a canvas tent and do extraordinary hikes. It was much less common to camp back then, almost nobody had a tent trailer and there most certainly wasn't electricity or highways near the campgrounds. We also used to go to Presqu'ile and Sandbanks which always seemed so far away to me. The world is a much smaller place now in terms of travel.
We didn't have a lot of money growing up so these trips served as our vacations and I suppose those adventures seeped into my bones. I also like to think it was a way for my parents to connect us to our Indigenous heritage, in a time when to claim this was exposure for racism.
My childhood was quite traumatic because my mother was very sick with an illness that doctor's couldn't identify. It took many years for the diagnosis of Addison's Disease to come but in the meantime, we girls were shuffled around and taken care of by our community so that my father could continue to work (often shift work) while my mother was in the hospital. There were whole summers and parts of the school year that we lived with my parent's friends or my extended family and often all three of us sisters were not in the same home at the same time.
So, I think that camping was a refuge for my mom when she was healthy and also a way to bring us all together as a family in times where we were often separated. For me, it has been a refuge as well. The outdoors has always been a place I have gone to heal from trauma and pain but also to find happiness and peace. I used to speak to the trees and birds as a little girl and I felt they understood me and I them. Now, I paint the landscapes I travel to but I like to paint them as I feel them. Each place has its own spirit and they do whisper to you if you are still and listen.
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