In late 2009 I was lucky enough to travel to Alberta, Canada. I was there as part of an art team (led by Sans facon and including Central Station’s Emlyn Firth) to look at the relationship between the City of Calgary and water. We traced the city’s water supply from the Bow Glacier through the city and out onto the vast prairie beyond. On the Prairie we were shown the remains of homesteads

These houses were built by settlers coming from Europe at the beginning of the 20th Century. For the sum of $200 you could buy 200 acres of land. People crossed the Atlantic with families and all they owned, bought a wagon and headed out into this vast wilderness.

This is the Lunt residence – built in about 1910 – the Lunts emigrated from Liverpool

The Albertan climate is such that there is very little water, very cold winters and a growing season of approx 3 months. The european migrants came from a tradition where mostly too much water was the issue and the cahllenge was to keep lnd drained so that crops and houses did not rot.

The new farming communities were short lived with most people either returning to Europe or heading for the towns. But the climate means that the marks left in this landscape endure….machinery abandoned in a scottish filed will be rusted solid in a year yet we saw machines that had lain for nearly a century and you could still turn a gear cog.

Wooden houses endured distrted only by the wind and the weight of snow. Poking at a window frame I dislodged a wad of cloth which presumably had been used to prevent a rattle or stop a draugnt more a century ago.

Much of my work is concerned with actively engaging with with the processes of erosion and weathering in materials….I found the Prairie utterly compelling and repelling simultaneously…..It is fascinating to me, that part of our cultural identity and how we see ourselves should be wrapped in our perception of the way things age and weather down…………as our Canadian friend Heather said of her country ‘we don’t rot we shrivel’.


Hidden Spaces – a month of blogs by members about their hidden space – whether they be real, imagined, unbuilt, cut-off from the public, demolished, spiritually significant or politically sublimated. Read more from the series.