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Shelter in the Clear Cut


Location: Above Robert's Creek, Sunshine Coast, B.C. Canada

Date: 30th August 2011
Time: 9.30 a.m.
Weather: Sun breaking through cloud, then bright sun. Hot and dusty.

This area of temperate rainforest was cut two summers ago, in 2009. It was mechanically re- planted with conifer that will be harvested in 50 - 60 years, so that the complex and rich eco-system of the forest will now be a tree farm and will never become rich forest again.


When an area is cut, the temperature rises by 20 degrees Celsius. The soil micro -organisms therefore die. Winds from the Pacific now funnel through the clear space, set up turbulence and cause uprooting of further Cedars on the periphery of the cut area.



I am standing on a battlefield after the assault. Dead wood lies tumbled all around. Fractured tree trunks still stand upright, lifeless sentries of this desiccated land.


Fire - weed stands valiant and tall all around, nature irresolute in her commitment to return the land to life. Alder, native and Oregon blackberry, ferns and Salal all clamour through the thick carpet of sawdust and debris.

From the dead material I begin to create something new, to give birth to something as a medicine for this insulting scar across the Earth's mantle. I build a temporary shelter, symbolic of all the shelter that has been destroyed for flora, fauna and humanity. A refuge from sun, wind and rain. It feels good to seek out branches from the wounded scatterings, and to place them with intention and purpose.

As I build the tipi form, a truck hauling freshly cut timbers drives past, only 3 m. away. We sit, in the dust trail, witnessing those trees, which rightly belong here, be taken away to feed the global 'need ' for insatiable consumerism.
During the 3 hours I am on the site, one truck per hour rolls past. The scale and rate of this destruction is unimaginable to me.
I use wire to bind the top of the structure, which will remain after all other material decays. Its permanence is a reminder of the fact that this damage to our earth is also permanent.


A truck driver stops, curious about what I am doing. When I explain, he says " Cool".
"These logs go down into Howe Sound, are scaled and re-sorted, bundled and put on the water, then sold all over the world, to whoever has the most money I guess".

I wrap feathered, delicate fronds of fern around the structure, weaving the layers through one another, building a safe, protective space within. The inside is cocooned; soft cool green light permeates this interior space.
It is very difficult to be up here, on this vast wasteland, alone. It feels overwhelming and hopelessness seeps in. The land is calling out for healing.


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