Artist Residency at the Yorath House

One of art space set ups at Yorath House during the residency One of art space set ups at Yorath House during the residency Photo- Julie Drew
26 Feb

At the end of my residency, I had a spontaneous show on April 1, 2023. Here is the unedited video my daughter recorded as I shared my Art Talk. 


Below, I include some close ups of what was set up for display on the tables during the show.


For over a decade I have been painting, writing and thinking about Water, from the perspective of water crises as a metaphor for our thirst for Living Water to Saturation. I was in the process of reworking the Living Water series, but I was stuck. I couldn’t seem to get past the idea of connecting and collaborating as the next part, but how?

This Residency gave me the opportunity to devote some time and energy into it, giving me a direction to pursue further.

I shared the poem on Water I wrote in 2010. You can read it here.

water paintingsJulie Drew NSaskatchewanRiver fall Acrylic 9x12inWater - acrylic pouring 8x8inwater2water3water3

 Connections: Connecting with People

Part of preparing for the Residency, was gathering what I already had in paintings, unfinished paintings and sketches, as well as photos of the river valley.
In 2020, during covid, weekly Plein Air workshops were a way I could still connect with my students. These paintings were all started during that year as we explored different parts of Edmonton and the surrounding area.

Thank you to all who came to paint on the Plein Air Excursions, especially my friend Marjie who came all 13 weeks in 2020.

connecting with peopleRundleBridge NSask.River 6x12in watercolor JulieDrewWolf Willow Beach N Saskatchewan River  7x11in artist Julie DrewFort Edmonton Footbridge wc 7x11inGovernmentWayPark watercolor unfinished

Connection: East to west – transportation route

Flowing to Lake Winnipeg, the Saskatchewan was the major transportation route that connected eastern Canada to the Rockies before the railroad.

The North Saskatchewan River begins at the Saskatchewan Glacier in Banff National Park in the Rocky Mountains and flows southeast through the northern tip of Banff National Park and into the foothills where it opens up into Abraham Lake, created by the Bighorn Dam.

The South Saskatchewan River is formed by the junction of the Bow and Oldman rivers, the headwaters of which are in the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains.

Today we can canoe or kayak down the river. Part of the photos I reviewed for the residency were of our two kayak trips down the river through Edmonton.

N Saskatchewan River transportation connection Transportation - canoeing the river at Devonseasons NSaskRiver

Connection: Seasons of life along the river
The basin of the North Saskatchewan river supports life, animals, plants and people. It is the source of water for Edmonton.
Wahkohtowin, a Cree word which denotes the interconnected nature of relationships, communities, and natural systems. Its literal meaning is "kinship."

seasons connection to life cyclefromthesketchbooksHawrelak BeunaVistaFootbridge watercolor 15x30in JulieDrew

Connection: Building bridges
When we build bridges we connect two places together, two sides of the river, different parts of Edmonton together.

As I worked the bridge paintings, reworking, drawing them until they looked correct, building the one out of handmade paper, piece by piece, it took effort. It was even painful as my hand took a few days to recover from the overextension of muscle.

This made me also think about relationships. We can build bridges between people as well, like the LRT bridge. And like my paintings and hours of work to get the bridge right, it takes effort to put aside our differences and build bridges to another person.

buildingbridges with handmade paper Buena Vista footbridge mixed media 18x24in artist Julie Drewbuilding the bridge

Connection: Treaty 6 territory  - Building Bridges in Community
We acknowledge Treaty 6 territory—the traditional and ancestral territory of the Cree, Dene, Blackfoot, Saulteaux and Nakota Sioux. We acknowledge that this territory is home to the Métis Settlements and the Métis Nation of Alberta, Regions 2, 3 and 4 within the historical Northwest Métis Homeland.

The North Saskatchewan flows through Treaty 6 territory. As we have taken steps in Canada to honor the First Nation people through Truth and Reconciliation, Edmonton built the newest LRT bridge to make connections between the indigenous and Canada. Below the main deck of the LRT, is the footbridge for people to walk, bike, roll and enjoy the beautiful artwork on the ceiling that tells the story of the First Nation people. The artwork on the ceiling is by Indigenous artist David Garneau.

I will work on a painting of this in the spring when the greening of the trees begins, reflecting the new life building bridges can bring to relationships. I went to sketch the bridge again as the buds on the trees were opening. I have one of the hotos I will reference as I begin the painting.

 LRT bridge -  building bridges in community photo Julie Drewspringgreen LRTbridge



February 26

Last week, I started a self-directed artist residency at the Yorath house in Buena Vista Park in the North Saskatchewan River valley here in Edmonton. I will be pondering the word “connections” and see where it leads me. I wrote in my proposal that I would “explore the metaphors I find of the connections of the river valley between the river, the land, the animals and people that are connected to it.” This residency is giving me an opportunity to take the time I need to explore what has been percolating in me for that last three years.

tracks across the river IMG 3489 tree with deep grooved bark
The first two days it has been cold (-17C and -22C) I did take a half hour walk along the river at the end of my day there on Tuesday and took some photos. At Buena Vista park, the river is a solid swath of white – with animal tracks bounding over the snow covered ice.

At other parts of the river which we drive over, there is a dark ribbon of river that ripples along near the middle. 

Since the weather was not conducive to painting outdoors yet, I decided to look through the photos I have taken of the river valley over the years and pull out the unfinished plein air paintings I started in 2020 and 2021 of the river valley.

As I started swiping through the photos from our kayaking trips down the North Saskatchewan, all of the unique bridges spanning the river caught my eye. Here is a way of seeing connection that I had not been thinking about, connecting banks of the river, building bridges. Also, three of the four unfinished plein air paintings were of bridges. It is a place to start.

bridge paintings in progress 

I look forward to seeing where this takes me in the next few weeks.

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