Landscape as Muse, Season I (2004)

(Documentary Series, 13x30 minutes)

The Gemini Award-winning Landscape as Muse showcases both the world-class artists and spectacular landscapes that are found in Canada. Following the artist's gaze, this beautiful cinematic program examines the inspirational relationship that exists between art and landscape.

Shot in nine provinces, two territories, and two countries; and featuring major Canadian artists, Landscape as Muse has established itself as one of the most comprehensive documentary programs of contemporary Canadian visual arts that exists.

Gemini Award Winner
(Best Arts Documentary Program or Series)


S1E101: "Athabasca Sand Dunes with Chris Herwig"

The Athabasca Sand Dunes are among the largest active sand dunes in the world. They are also among the planet's most remote. To visit this haunting landscape, one must either charter a floatplane, or canoe several hundred meandering kilometres northward. But there is a third way - forging a trail for 7 days using map and compass. Watch the adventure unfold with photographer Chris Herwig.


S1E102: "Boreal Forest with Bob Boyer"

Canada's northern boreal forest is incredibly diverse; in it we find alder, aspen, birch, fir, larch, pine, spruce, and willow, as well as numerous shrub and bush varieties. In recent years, preservation of these "lungs of the earth" has become a significant part of global conservation strategies. Working in oils, with a tree for an easel, Bob Boyer creates a Group of Seven-Like "Plein-Air" painting in the forest over three cool spring days.


S1E103: "Northern Nights with Patricia Leguen" 

Working on the edge of an ice-jammed lake with the wind blowing steadily on-shore is all in a day’s work for fire / snow / ice sculptor Patricia Leguen. On this chilly spring day, she and her local crew construct a massive wood and straw structure. Finally, around midnight in the dark calm, Leguen sets fire to the work -- a flaming eagle seemingly suspended against a blue-black sky. Later as the ashes smoulder and the night air becomes frigid, Mother Nature creates her own show high above as the northern lights emerge.


S1E104: "Nipekamew Sand Cliffs with Chris St. Amand"

Originating as glacial deposits of 120 million years ago, The Nipekamew Sand Cliffs are towering white limestone columns that exist despite centuries of erosion from the meandering river below. Tireless sculptor Chris St. Amand comes to the cliffs with rope, solar lights, and a few hand tools. Perched precariously on the cliff edge, St. Amand perseveres through rain and cold for two long days. In the end, the sun emerges to reveal Chris's work: a sort of satellite dish aimed to the sky. The simple and subtle work becomes profound as night falls and the solar lights illuminate the sculpture's skeletal form.


S1E105: "Crackingstone Peninsula with Courtney Milne"

The Crackingstone Peninsula, an imposing mass of mineral rich rock, juts out into the veritable sea that is Lake Athabasca. The rocks are a maze of colours and stains, striations of white and red, and conglomerations of minerals. Courtney Milne spends nine days travelling on foot, canoe, and motor boat as he photographs the rocks and lichens, moss and pollen, and the sun and moon of the spectacular Crackingstone region.


S1E106: "Nistowiak Falls with Holly Fay" 

Nistowiak Falls are likely the most spectacular falls on the famed Churchill River system. It is here that the mighty river forces itself through a 4 metre wide, 10 metre high gorge. The sheer force of the falls creates a roar that can be heard several kilometres away. Painter Holly Fay spends her time at the falls creating numerous sketches and pastel paintings. Fay studies the tones found within the blue/white waterfalls and grey/brown Precambrian rock formations, manifesting her impressions of the landscape in two large abstract canvases.


S1E107: "Sturgeon Gill Point with Ewa Tarsia"

On the far northwestern reaches of Lake Winnipeg, the world's eleventh largest lake, there are massive limestone cliffs and an elaborate network of caves. This is Sturgeon Gill Point. The startling aspects of the natural rock formations are an immediate source of inspiration for painter Ewa Tarsia. She creates numerous pastel sketches concentrating on the hues and tones of the rocks -- just the beginning for a series of vivid colour paintings and prints.


S1E108: "Montreal River with John Halkett"

John Halkett is a painter, sculptor, and educator from the La Ronge Indian Band in Northern Saskatchewan. Drawing on the stories of his Cree people, John's art takes form in traditional Aboriginal scenes. Halkett takes us to visit those hunting, fishing, and meeting places that have been sacred to his people for centuries. There, along the Montreal River, John creates a stone carving and a scenic painting, while sharing stories of the rich history of the area.


S1E109: "Little Limestone Lake with Bridgette Dion"

Little Limestone Lake is a majestic turquoise body of water, situated amid unique "karst" (limestone) geology in Manitoba's Interlake Lowland area. The lake visibly changes colour as the calcite inherent in the limestone chemically reacts to the heat of the sun. No other lake in the world displays this characteristic on the scale of Little Limestone Lake. Painter Brigitte Dion spends three days along a beach of the lake. There, amid colour shifting water and the beach's flat white stones, she occupies herself with painting and constructing several playful installations along the shore.


S1E110: "Lac La Ronge Provincial Park with Robert Jerome"

Robert Jerome is from Lac La Ronge. His work draws on nature and wildlife. While Jerome works primarily with antlers, he also uses alabaster and the local "Wapaweeka" pipestone in many of his pieces. On an isolated island in Lac La Ronge Provincial Park, Jerome carves two pieces, one from an antler, the other from stone. Both incorporate wildlife scenes inspired by his Aboriginal heritage and his surroundings.


S1E111: "Lake Athabasca with Richard Gorenko"

Saskatchewan is home to some 100,000 lakes; most are found in the north. The largest, Lake Athabasca, is the 21st largest body of fresh water on the planet -- so large it measurably affects the region's climate. Painter Richard Gorenko visits Lake Athabasca during a time of unusual calm. The lake's waves are silent and still, and the temperature is exceptionally hot. With a sketchbook and camera in hand Gorenko captures images of the horizon, the play of sun and moonlight, and vistas of the rocky islands -- images he draws on for a series of paintings.


S1E112: "Autumn with Shelley Sopher"

The Canadian Shield is a geographic region that dominates most of the country. The hard Precambrian rock geology of the shield distinguishes it from the rest of Canada, and has ostensibly protected it from the effects of development and civilization. Photo-installation artist Shelley Sopher spends three days in early autumn among the rock and mosses of isolated Hansen Lake. Working in sweeping 180 degree arcs, Sopher's camera documents both the micro details of the shield, and the expanses of the forest amidst the autumn metamorphosis.


S1E113: "Grasslands National Park with Don Hall" 

Grasslands National Park is the only significant park in North America dedicated to the preservation of natural prairie habitat. These Grasslands are home to a unique variety of flora and fauna including scorpions, rattlesnakes and cacti. In this episode we visit the park in mid-December with photographer Don Hall. With only a few hours of good working light each day, Hall succeeds in revealing what he calls “the extraordinary ordinary in the landscape.” Indeed, while Grasslands in mid-December may at first present itself as sparse wind-swept expanse, looking through the lens we are soon enraptured by its harsh buttes, dancing golden grass, and brilliant winter sun.

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