Porphyry Impressions | PART II |Artist in Residence | by Kaija Savinainen Mountain
For what seems like an eternity we soon arrive closer to the Sleeping Giant. There he lies, resting, regal, powerful. What a view. The massive craggy rocky formations that make up the Sleeping Giant present majestically to us mere tiny mortals. My heart pounds, I hold my breath staring, drinking in the view. Words do not describe what lies before me… beautiful, breath taking, raw, powerful vision.
My first memories of arriving in Thunder Bay as an emigrant family from Finland was the Sleeping Giant. The deep blue green waters, on the horizon the sometimes-darker stronger colors describing the Giant’s shapes, all imprinted somewhere in my mind – a touchpoint to this new home in a new land for our family. I was 12 at the time. I recall on other occasions the Giant was wrapped, shrouded in misty fog, making for an ethereal other worldly vision. So many faces, so many visions appeared, disappeared and reappeared. I had up to that point in my life never experienced such a commanding landscape, so entrancing and strong. I can remember my first few times in my teen years walking along Cumberland Street, feeling the presence of the harbour and the Giant in the distance. I was told of the legend of Nanabijou and how the Giant came to be where he is now located. I had no idea such a place existed. The vision has always stayed in my mind. I hear the name Thunder Bay and that vision instantly flashes before me.
On this first day of the Porphyry Island Artist-In-Residence program, August 13, 2018 I was truly excited. My head was filled with ideas - editing and rethinking my approach to painting this land. I would study and observe. Draw, draw, find the essential key elements and sketch and sketch some more. Look, revise and draws some more. Repeat the process again and again striving for my vision. Use the power of contour line to describe clouds, the rocky mesas and sills, the water and her movements. So much movement, so much energy. All around me, even when I close my eyes I see the landscape…so much work lies ahead as drawings back in my studio are transformed into vivid and evocative oil paintings – to try and reflect in the best way the magnitude, the strength and the feeling that Porphyry, the big Lake, and the Sleeping Giant fill all your senses with. I embrace what the Group of Seven, Lawren Harris, Emily Carr espouse “It was an ever clearer and deeply moving experience of oneness with the spirit of the whole land. It was this spirit which dictated, guided and instructed us how the land should be painted.”