Nautical charts are pages full of information about the sea: currents, tides, dangerous rocky protrusions, secret bays to anchor in and explore, and distances to far off lands. For the artist, the nautical chart is a beautiful drawing of repetitive gestures, lines, dots, and themes. They also tell us the stories of explorers navigating through the waters, drawing what they see. The thought of sailing through shallow waters without a nautical chart is terrifying, yet this is what explorers did in their large sailing ships. Nostalgically, I imagine these sailing vessels cautiously inching their way up the channels and inlets around Vancouver Island, completely blind to what lays beneath. And, ever since those first explorers started drawing the coasts, the seafarers thereafter have added to their charts. It is a compelling experience, when sailing, to study the chart and find a marked rock on it, only to look up and see the actual rock with its marker in front of you. Someone a very long time ago saw that very rock and thought it worth marking for future sailors. Or, to see the small, quaint, red anchor printed on little bays on the chart gives one hope of blissful nights safely tucked away from the wind, because sailors in the past have found sandy bottoms and protection there. The connection to the past is made in that moment.
As an artist and a sailor, I am interested in the nautical chart for all these reasons. They have become my medium to paint, draw, and collage. My history with drawing with tape seemed to be a natural process through which to develop the nautical chart into a three-dimensional platform. The nautical chart is a very two-dimensional experience, and not until one experiences the chart while on the ocean does one feel the space it describes. Using tape, I am stretching the map into a three-dimensional perspective, fleshing out the drawing the nautical chart contains, and rendering it to a larger-than-life perspective.