Distant Early Warning is a portrait of Tuktoyaktuk, an Arctic village where the Inuvialiuit people still live close to the land and their history is embedded in the landscape. The title is borrowed from the iconic local DEW line, a radar system set up during the Cold War. The Arctic has become a sort of environmental 'canary in the tunnel', as the melting ice reveals a wealth of new resources to exploit, and the resulting pollution threatens this delicate eco-system. At this time, nature is in its still pristine and almost primeval state: raindrops are visible suspended in cloud and the pure blues in the sky are surrounded by prisms of colour. During my visits I saw the earth fall away from a distant slope exposing the glint of permafrost in the sun. The smoke shacks at the end of the spit, where the town used to sit and for which it is named (Tuktoyaktuk means looks like caribou in Inuvialuktun) disappeared in a storm one night, along with the end of the spit.
These paintings have developed concurrently with an ongoing investigation of suburban sprawl outside Toronto (Into the 905: The View From the Car, 2002-2005, Peace Village 2006, High Tech Road 2007, The Necessities of Life, 2009) an environment based on car culture with far reaching environmental influence, where nature is suppressed and destroyed as opposed to nature treasured.