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Love Letters – A First look at the Gushul output

Kootenay Lake writer Luanne Armstrong’s personal memoir, Blue Valley, is described as “writing language back into land” – a kind of communion or reunification of person and place necessary if we are to help a world in ecological distress.

But all such writing – whether through words, music, or visual imagery — is also first and foremost a personal enterprise, and experience.

Hence the title of this sample album – Love Letters.

The images were initially edited with a generous amount of orange tint, producing a tobacco-stain warmth that seem to fit my generally dark mood coming into the project – that of a world seemingly on fire, socially, metaphorically, literally.  In truth, that was already a departure from the originally proposed The Land-Sky Nexus Project, which was pitched (vaguely, I now see) as somehow exploring meeting points at the here and the way out there, between Terra Firma, und das All.

But nothing much happens in the region captured by these images that is beyond the ever-watchful presence of Crowsnest Mountain — rising up in a “perfect cone,” to borrow Malcolm Lowry’s description of Popocatepetl in his novel Under the Volcano. Crowsnest rules its domain, and during my two weeks in the Gushul Cottage in Blairmore, the mountain loomed and intervened relentlessly, imposing a paternal presence in ways that jostled soul and sensibilities, demanding more hard-won and legitimate work.

The result are images that I hope reflect Armstrong’s plea and own expressed need for meaning, communion and identity in the context of place, that in operational and practical fact, there is indeed something deeply personal and very powerful in writing the land in ways that reunite memory, unsullied beauty, and hope – for a world seemingly on fire.

Mark Wolfe
August 2022

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