Inhale

The INHALE series

Imagery in The INHALE Series arose from my recent exposure to the intricacies of plankton; the delicate tapestry quality of their shells and the interplay between the infinite forms of plankton are mesmerizing. These tiny beautiful creatures range from microscopic marine viruses and bacteria to single-celled plants with stunningly ornate shells to minuscule plant-eating animals.

I have been very lucky to have a great friend, Alanna Mitchell (www.alannamitchell.com), a well-known Canadian science journalist and author of two international bestsellers, Dancing at the Dead Sea: Tracking the World's Environmental Hotspots and more recently, Seasick: The hidden ecological crisis of the global ocean. Alanna has helped nurture my interest in science and environmental issues, and specifically, ocean acidification which is threatening the well-being of plankton, the source of half the oxygen we breathe. "They are the lynchpin on which life depends" as Alanna explains in Seasick.

I am intrigued with the scientific explanations regarding the role of plankton as the top carbon-absorbers and the oxygen-givers on earth. For instance, the ancient plankton called Coccolithophor or Coccoliths, create complex plated armour for themselves out of calcium, carbon and the oxygen they absorb from the ocean. In most of my drawings and paintings, Coccoliths are featured with their unique type of shell, artichoke-like in their layers of circular patterned forms, packed tightly into complex clusters.

My current simultaneous studio focus on trees in the Birch Poem series, and plankton in the Inhale series was more intuitive than carefully planned out. I did not realize how connected the two series are until a visit from Alanna in 2012. Her first remark was that I was creating art based on our planet's two most significant absorbers of carbon emissions ('carbon sinks'), trees and plankton.

When I'm making my plankton-based art, I work quickly, glancing at the many images of these creatures spread randomly within my field of vision. I imagine them interacting with each other. But most of all, I envision the oceans and freshwater lakes and rivers teeming with life, both visible and invisible. I marvel in the beauty of what I can't see but know is there. I'm learning about what lies in 'the deeps' and what a precious life-line it is to our inhalations and exhalations, our very existence.