Up here, winter closes rapidly on the heels of summer. The days suddenly shorten, the nights chill, and in a matter of days, the leaves turn colour and the snows begin to fly.

We mourn the first yellowing of aspens, hasten to gather in the last of the purpling cranberries, and do our best to enjoy those few glorious autumn days before the long, dark season.

In late August or early September, if conditions are just right, the tiny Arctic willows and other miniature flora that grow above the treeline in the tundra regions of northern Yukon, burn with shades of alizarin crimson, ruby red, burgundy, orange and gold. Colours cover the mountainsides and fill the valleys, reaching for miles against the autumn sky. It is there that we fully feel the immediacy of the changing seasons; one more cycle unfolding.

These paintings, made following several autumn journeys into the Blackstone Uplands region along the Dempster Highway, represent that moment in time.

I have an on-going interest in the concept of time as it relates to “landscape”. A landscape is not a fixed place; rather, it is fluid, changing, evolving. “Places” are the rooms and streets and valleys we are familiar with; “spaces” are what surrounds those places. “Landscape” is the way we organize space as the human and geographic environment around us. In her book Elements of a New Landscape, Rebecca Solnit suggests that “landscape’s most crucial condition is considered to be space, but its deepest theme is time.” It is this idea that I keep coming back to. I see the shapes and structural elements of the land and contemplate the time it takes for mountains to rise or rivers to change their course. Through this work I am attempting to express those elements of change.

For me, the land (and image making about the land) is about both time and space. “Space” is perhaps how we more usually define a landscape, but in studying how the land is made, and in understanding how it evolves on a continuous cycle of birth, growth, death and rebirth, I also begin to understand the land in terms of “time”.

These images represent a moment in time. They are about time and they are about change. They are about the effects of weather over time on the land, about seasonal change, about nature’s cycles. They are about moving forward, forever evolving, forever renewing.

Ava P. Christl
March 2001