In 2002 I had a solo Railway Lands Show at the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo. The process started two years earlier when François Dion brought Ogura Masashi and Makiko Hara for a studio visit. Ogura Masashi was then the consulting curator for the Canada Embassy Art Gallery. He and his colleague Makiko came up from Montreal to view my work on François Dion’s recommendation. The studio visit was very pleasant and Ogura Masashi offered me a show that day, though he was vague about a date, probably two years off.
Because I had to put the show together my self, I asked Emily Falvey if she would be the curator and write an essay for a small catalogue I planned to self publish. Emily agreed and wrote the very beautiful, To Be Heard With The Eye Only essay, which is further down in the blog.
At that time I was in transition from making panoramic train pictures to overhead views. Since neither the Ocean Limited or CN freight train works would fit into the embassy gallery I started a new picture, the Montreal commuter train. Mark McGuigan cut the boards at Carleton University and later built the crates to ship the works to Japan.
Together with the commuter train, I produced a series of locomotive pictures for Tokyo, most of which I later demolished. Though the larger and more resolved works all went into collection, notably to DFAIT, the Ottawa Art Gallery and the Beaverbrook.
In the course of time I received a letter from embassy councilor Bruce Barnett advising me the show had been approved for July 3, 2002 and requested that I submit a grant application to the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. The embassy exhibition program was structured at the time as a straight grant from DFAIT which the artist used to crate and ship the works and travel to the venue. I received 7000$ for the exhibition out of which I had to pay for everything.
At some point I had a studio visit from a young cultural events manager from Tokyo named Stephane-Enric Beaulieu who gave me the run down on the exhibition and advised Penny and I where to stay in Tokyo.
By April 2001 the work was ready to go. I made arrangements to ship it with Sven Wilcke at Internet Freight. The crates were to be sent by rail, then containership across the Pacific. I remember I asked Sven if I should insure the work and he actually laughed. Insuring the work, he told me, would double the cost and what’s worse, if the ship were wrecked and required salvaging it was very likely the salvage company would sue me for costs.