Boats, Canoes, Kayaks – are to me symbols of vessels of life, our body as a vessel; woman’s body as a vessel, being carried along the waters of life, swimming against the stream, floating in the current, vulnerability. I have a fear of deep waters, of not having a solid ground of the earth directly under my feet. I can swim, but have never been very great at it. Much comes from not being allowed to get water in my ear after my illness of meningitis when I was six, and my mother not liking to take us to the public pool because she could not see without her glasses, and wearing her glasses in the water was not comfortable. In grade 5, during school swimming lessons the teacher once called my best friend and I “grandmothers” because our swimming was not as good as that of our fellow classmates.
Working with the images of vessels is a way of conquering my fear of water. It is also inspired by traditional symbolism that the canoe holds in many cultures. Moving from landlocked country to Canada with it’s thousands of kilometers of waterways opened up visions of travel completely new to me. Knowing how important the canoe has been in Canadian history is yet another meaningful way for me to use the image of the canoe.
The basic shape of the canoe is also the same as my prime personal symbol of the leaf without a stem. The shape of my figures are based on this shape, my leaves are often drawn like this, the boats are in this shape.