In 2015 I was deployed as a member of the Canadian Forces Artist Program at CFB Stadaconna and on the frigate HMCS Halifax. My program of work was very straightforward, it was to follow in my father Kenneth Walker’s footsteps some 60 years later by living briefly at Stadaconna and going to sea on a war ship as he did in 1942.
Three works evolved from this experience. The first, a photo documentation of my deployment, 330 photographs posted on Flickr, to which you will find a link further down in the blog and two works installed at the Canada War Museum, CFAP G7 exhibition in February 2018.
The installation works were both documentary in nature. An overhead view of HMC Dockyard and CFB Stadaconna, showing all the buildings and ships present before deployment on TGEX 615 and a high definition video, which presents life aboard HMCS Halifax at sea. My idea with the installation was to show a painted construction side by side with a video to encourage the viewers to wonder how the same artist could produce two very distinctly different types of images with all the contradictory meaning each medium carries.
I originally thought I would make a painted construction of HMCS Halifax alongside at the dockyard with North End Halifax in the background. However when I started doing image research on the North End, I discovered the Google satellite coincidentally passed over Halifax the very weekend I was living in Juno Tower at Stadaconna, so the work became an overhead view based on this satellite imagery. The high definition video, The View From Point Pleasant was intended both as a documentary and a poetic reflection on the spiritual connection between Halifax and the Royal Canadian Navy.
Point Pleasant is a historic park in South End Halifax with a view to the North Atlantic. People have been watching war ships depart and waiting their return here since the 18th Century. My Mi’kmaw ancestors watched and waited there in 1746 for the arrival of their French allies, the Duc Danville’s fleet and in 1749 watched as Cornwallis’ English fleet entered Chebucto to the general destruction of both the Mi’kmaw and Sang Mêlés Acadien.
Like generations of Haligonians I also watched war ships leave from Point Pleasant and wondered what life on board was like for the sailors. The View from Point Pleasant is meant to be a kind of poetic speculation of what people imagine as they look out to sea from that place.