The Coil: Artist Statement and Acknowledgements

  Part of The Coil: A History in Four Parts

Artist Statement

The Coil That Binds, The Line That Bends is both object and process, both work and way of seeing or knowing. As a sculptural form it is both the result of a long and laboured process of making, and the enabling tool, means, or vehicle for another, longer process of encounter, of engaging with the earth in a direct, yet non-intrusive way.

The Coil emerged both physically and conceptually from one of the last remaining primitive interactions between humans and Nature …the fishery of inshore Newfoundland. It is constructed from part of a retired fishing net, and bound by hand into a long, heavy, red line which has been “drawn” from the sea to make transient marks upon the land.

Since The Coil’s “birth” in 1988, the fishery has undergone significant trauma…the biological and ecological sending shock waves through the economic and cultural elements of one of the oldest traditions of a place. What began as a retired fishing net starting a life beyond the fishery, has ended up as one of hundreds lying idle all over Newfoundland. What began as a celebration and reflection of a harmonious relationship with Nature, has become a solitary echo of some mystery we have not yet deciphered. It began as a line drawn from an abundant sea, and has become an ambiguous reminder of scarcity…

Although urban living and modern technology have increasingly fragmented and regimented our ways of knowing, and have distanced us dangerously from the natural world, there remains for me, especially within the physical and cultural environment of Newfoundland, not just echoes and reminders, but strong and daily encounters with a natural world both alive and untamed… and in the current context, still mysterious, misunderstood, and humbling. The preoccupations of my work in recent years have been focussed upon finding ways to know, express and re-enchant that world … to empower it once again as an acceptable source of knowledge and to find my own place within it.

Laying down the line beyond its source in Newfoundland, on Vancouver Island, in the ancient dry sea-bed of the Alberta Badlands, and in Japan, another island fishing culture, seemed like a natural progression. It was an instinctive journey, an act of following the leading line…from the first sunrise to the last sunset, from wet to dry, from island to inland, from East to Farther East.

The Coil is both an echo of my own female experience in the physical world, and an object building a history of its own. The two-dimensional works which have emerged from the process are like entries in a diary … like shorthand which encodes the experience without struggling to capture it or re-present it. These 2-dimensional works, the Biographical Notes, are the location where the physical experience becomes symbolic, where the memory of the past interaction becomes the navigator of the next … they are both tracks which reveal where the process has been, and maps which hint at where it might lead.

—Pam Hall, 1993


The artist is deeply grateful for the help, assistance and support of the following individuals…all of them have made invaluable contributions to The Coil’s brief but rich history on sea and on land.

For their labour, their spirit, and their companionship along the way…I thank them…

for in the binding and the bending, lies the bonding….

1988-1989…In Newfoundland:

Eli Tucker, Caleb Tucker, Jamie Best, Paul Pope, Nigel Markham, Milton Spraklin Sr.

1990…On Vancouver Island:

Sue Donaldson, Jim Lindsay, Kelly Irving, Bob Preston, Kerry Francis, Roy Green, Paul Dishaw, Terryl Atkins, John Orser, Jill Ehlert

1991…In the Alberta Badlands:

David and Marie Kaufman, Ed Jurewicz and Grace Jefferies, Katy McKelvey and Steve Nunoda, Nigel Markham, Duane Nickerson, Yvonne Markotic and Martin McSween, Marcel Duschenes, Jane Evans, the Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers, and the staff of Dinosaur and Writing-on-Stone Provincial Parks.

1993… on Amherst Island, Lake Ontario:

Jan Winton, Adam Fingret, Andrew Butkevicius, Cheryl McCormick, Jennifer Essex, Ingrid Dabringer, Becky Soudant, Mandy Gerland, Leah Balfe, John and Maribeth Hall

1993… in Japan:

Lesley Pechter, David Wynne, Miki Maruta, Tony Concil, Nobi Nagasawa, Ross Reid, Kuni and Toru Kajiwara, Yakeo Okui, Kevin Feilder, Pierre Deslormes of the Canadian Consulate in Fukuoka, Beverly Mack and Claude Savard of External Affairs Canada, Akiko Nawata, Louis Hamel, and David Anido of the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo,with extraordinaryl thanks to Victor Young of F.P.I., St. John’s

In all locations and throughout the project, the artist is deeply grateful for the support of her family – Strat and Jordan Canning.

Institutional and Organizational Acknowledgements

The artist gratefully acknowledges financial assistance from the Canada Council for The Arts, NICHIRO CORP. in Japan, and the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council.

She also thanks the staff members of all the galleries where The Coil was presented in public. Some were instrumental in enabling the site work and showing its results to local audiences, and others mounted the touring exhibition as it travelled to new audiences. The support and enthusiasm of the following public galleries and artist-run centres is acknowledged and appreciated:

Sir Wilfred Grenfell Art Gallery in Cornerbrook

AGNL in St. John’s

Open Space in Victoria, B.C.

The New Gallery in Calgary, Alberta

The Art Gallery of The Canadian Embassy in Japan

Acadia University Art Gallery in Wolfville, N.S.

AGNS in Halifax, N.S.

Agnes Etherington Art Centre at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario

Confederation Centre for the Arts, Charlottetown, PEI

The Southern Alberta Art Gallery, Lethbridge, Alberta

The Art Gallery of Thunder Bay, Thunder Bay, Ontario

The publication of the Coil catalogue was assisted by support from the Canada/Newfoundland Agreement on Cultural Industries.