Janet Patterson, August’s Jenni House Artist Resident, on the art of long walks
Walking Together, with Saba Javed
This month, you can walk among others at Jenni House, a historic artist studio located at Shipyards Park. The most recent recipient of the Jenni House Residency is Janet Patterson, an emerging multimedia visual artist whose work is focused on the history of the land we travel on.
For years, Patterson has travelled well-trodden routes around the world. On these trips, she’s reflected on the stories of those who travelled the same paths, decades and centuries before her. Along parts of northwestern Spain, carved out by the chronicled pilgrimage route of Camino de Santiago, Patterson walked by ancient homes, buildings and relics dotting the route, each with their own memories. In Turkey, she walked 400 kilometres along the Lycian Way and was moved by the rich histories along her trek.
Over the phone, Patterson reflected on what these walks meant to her in the years before she became a full-time artist.
“When I walk, it’s a chance to think. When you’re walking for that long, there isn’t anything else to do but be alone with your thoughts.”
An emerging artist, Patterson began practicing with mixed medium art just three years ago. Much of it was informed by what she contemplated on these walks.
“There’s an energy left behind when you walk along the same path that thousands of others have walked before you.”
This energy is what Pattersont hopes to translate into her latest piece as she brings her work to a new space at Jenni House. For Patterson, who took part in the Created at the Canyon event earlier this year, working ‘en plein air’ in the Yukon brought back memories of walking abroad. Like the Camino de Santiago and Turkey, Kwanlin Dün territory has its own history of trails worn down, and the memories of people imprinted onto this land.
At the Canyon, Patterson began her project to document the overlapping of travel on Kwanlin Dün land, encouraging visitors to imprint their shoes on the canvas with paint. To accompany this piece, she worked with found objects (namely wasp nests) to create shoes placed on the finished canvas.
Patterson’s work at Jenni House will be similar, but a larger production. She hopes to capture footprints over the entire month of her residency and make a larger number of shoes using different and new material, from scoby to birch. Because her piece is particularly inspired by Yukon landscapes, the piece will also reflect those we share the trail with. At the first signs of spring melt, Patterson created casts of various animal tracks in the muddied trails, including foxes, coyotes, deer, moose and dogs. She plans to imprint these alongside the footprints of visitors.
For Patterson this residency is a chance to explore in a studio space, without the daily distractions of working from home, and with the creative support of our community. Over the month, visitors are encouraged to visit the studio, check out Patterson’s work and become a part of this living piece of art, alongside the imprints of other Yukoners who’ve walked before you.