from the forest to the sea
The intricate, graphite drawings of Harvey’s Drift series are renderings of the natural world. But they also operate as metaphors for her experiences with her father after he was diagnosed with dementia. Harvey would accompany her father for walks along the beaches of Denman Island, where he carefully selected pieces of driftwood as gifts for his daughter. Much like her father’s mind, the driftwood seemed impermanent and fragile—the substance of a past about to disappear. The pieces had been part of something whole and, through travel from forest to sea to beach, were shaped by a lifetime of experience, now only suggested by the hints of past attachments.
The large-scale drawings in the series Dis/ Connect explore the complexity and importance of human interconnection. The detailed driftwood clusters, patterns, and solitary images in Dis/Connect engage negative space—cracks in our social lives that can easily become crevices. But the points at which the driftwood meet suggest that by moving from solitude to connection, we can find solidarity, building strength and the possibility of more resilient communities. In this way, we enact a social form of biodiversity, acknowledging what the ecological world already knows: connection is crucial for survival.
In this part of the Dendrochroma series, Harvey uses selected pieces of driftwood as a foundation, painting them with different colour gradients to reflect shifts in emotional states or moods within a short time. Harvey’s process reacts to the “thermochromic” mood rings of the mid- 1970s—a fad that mistook changes in body temperature as mood swings, indicated by transformations in colour. The fad is part of a larger cultural impulse to connect colour gradations with mood, and Harvey’s pieces pay homage to the ongoing fascination with colour as an expression of intricate and complicated experiences of emotion.
Be included in the Beaty Biodiversity Museum edition of the video Mood Ring. We are calling for photos of people expressing all kinds of moods—sad, happy, excited, angry, indifferent, it is entirely up to you!
How to participate:
By emailing your photos, you agree that you have all the necessary rights and permissions to do so, and give permission to be included in a video art piece titled Mood Ring by Bettina Harvey. Submitting your photos does not guarantee inclusion in the work.
The images in Bettina Harvey’s series Dendrochroma re-imagine the science of dendrochronology across the experience of the aging human mind and changes over time in personality, perception, and emotion. Where dendrochronology accounts for the life span and variances of a tree through counting and analyzing the concentric rings circling through its trunk, Harvey’s pieces use colour gradients to suggest the imprint of the past on a person’s aging experience. Invoking the mood of past eras—the punchy brights of the early eighties or the blending techniques of nineties design trends—the colours in Harvey’s series represent the imprint of bygone eras on the mind and personality.
The Mud Bay mixed media pieces marked the start of Harvey’s ongoing series which mapped the complex, quickly changing ecology of the intertidal area within the Boundary Bay watershed in Delta, British Columbia. Over an extended period, the Intertidal project recorded a personal effort to make sense of and respond to environmental change by mirroring the cyclic rhythms of the tides. For Harvey, the intertidal zone became a biological metaphor for resilience, grief, and hope in the Anthropocene Era.
Bettina Harvey’s exhibition Drift: from the forest to the sea investigates the ecology and physical journey of driftwood. Harvey’s intricate drawings also suggest metaphors of human experience and relationships, finding parallels between the profound passages of our personal lives and the cycles of ecological life. Different series shift their approach to these parallels, focusing on unique elements of driftwood. At times, Harvey evokes human anatomy and the resilience that lies at the heart of the ageing process. At other times, her pieces emphasize transformation, tracing the imprint of the past upon an individual’s metamorphosis over a lifetime. All her work employs an inquisitive, philosophical approach to questions about time, personality, love, and the natural world.