Out of the art and into the Arctic

Cory Trepanier has always had a visceral, even spiritual, connection to the outdoors. As a landscape painter it's where he derives his inspiration.

Cory Trepanier has always had a visceral, even spiritual, connection to the outdoors.

As a landscape painter it’s where he derives his inspiration.

“It’s that moment, that connection that you have with something that’s bigger than you,” he said.

And it doesn’t get much bigger than the North, which has been the focus of Trepanier’s work for the last few years.

Next week, Trepanier will be in Whitehorse where he will be screening Into the Arctic 2, a documentary he made about his quest to paint the remote eastern and central Arctic.

As the name suggests, it’s the second documentary he’s made about the North. The first Into the Arctic was shot in the northern Yukon.

After completing a project in which he packed his family into a canoe and traveled throughout Ontario painting the shores of Georgian Bay and Lake Superior, Trepanier found himself looking for another challenge.

It was then, in 2005, that he found himself drawn to the North.

“As I looked there, I saw a landscape that was so foreign to anything I had painted before. Artistically, it seemed like an incredible challenge, a different pallet to work with,” he said.

It also captured a spirit of adventure. For Trepanier, a member of the Explorers Club, that was irresistible.

“The lure of painting wilderness places that have seldom, if ever, been painted before was a big part of what drove me,” he said. “I don’t know if anyone set out to do a comprehensive collection from one end of the Arctic to the other as far north as we can go.”

In 2006 he packed his two daughters and wife into an RV and started out from their home just north of Toronto.

“That gave us a sense, because we took our time going across the country, of just how big this country is,” said Trepanier. “We’d never done that before, and for myself, as an artist painting the Canadian landscape, it really drives it home.

“You can get on a plane go up and your there, but when you drive it you get to see the landscape change and transform.”

When they arrived in the Yukon, they picked up Marten Berkman, a Whitehorse-based visual artist who traveled with the troop all the way up the Dempster Highway, and then into Ivvavik National Park.

Berkman helped Trepanier film the trip, but he was also working on his own artistic project.

“I have an art project that deals with stereoscopic stills and video instillations to basically try to provide an experiential window into remote places for people,” said Berkman.

[image2]

While the two artists work in very different mediums, both derive inspiration from the landscape and share a similar philosophy about the natural environment.

“I personally feel connected to the land, so as an artist I’m inspired to share that connection, because I’m very conscious that so much human culture today is profoundly disconnected from it,” said Berkman.

It’s a sentiment that Trepanier agrees with.

“There’s so many people sort of disconnected from the real world,” he said. “The real world for them is concrete and glass and steel in Toronto.”

While Berkman said he only had a small role in the documentary project, he did contribute to both films, traveling to Baffin Island to lend a hand for a couple of weeks filming Into the Arctic 2.

While the film documents some of the hardships, like inclement weather and the ungodly hordes of insects that Trepanier endured while painting the landscape, there were other challenges that aren’t as apparent, said Berkman.

“I’ve seen other film productions go in with helicopters into Baffin Island and just ferry people around to those ideal shot locations, while Cory did everything by foot or by paddle,” he said. “I think that is also where part of the merit in his work can be described, because when we travel somewhere under our own steam, under our own power, I find we are humbled in that process.”

But although traveling by foot may add a cretin authenticity to the work, carrying more than 100 pounds of camping and arts supplies through some of the most rugged terrain in the world was by far the biggest challenge, said Trepanier.

“My knee ligaments were sore for months after, and even now I get a bit of a clicking sound and I have to kind of watch it,” he said.

For the trip to the eastern and central Arctic, Trepanier decided to leave his family at home, something he was glad he did when camped out with a shotgun next to fresh polar bear tracks.

But the bears kept their distance. Wolves were another matter.

One night, three came right into their camp. At the time, Trepanier’s older brother had joined him.

“I won’t over-dramatize it,” he said. “Arctic wolves are not known to attack people. However, when you’re eye to eye with them, the absolute stealth, all of a sudden they’re just there, your heart can’t help but beat.

“I asked my brother to get the tripod because I wanted to film and he said, ‘Shut up, you get the tripod, I’m getting the knife.’ That was a thrilling experience.”

Since 2006, Trepanier has traveled to the Arctic three times, produced two films and has set a goal to complete 50 paintings by the end of the year.

But it’s not just about the art.

“I’m hoping in some capacity that the work I’m doing can connect people in a way that not only creates more appreciation for (the North) but maybe can lend some protection to some of these places as well,” he said.

The film is playing at the Old Fire Hall on Thursday, May 31 at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are $20, with $5 going to the Yukon chapter of CPAWS. They can be purchased online at www.intothearcticfilm.com

Contact Josh Kerr at

joshk@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dr. Brendan Hanley, Yukon’s chief medical officer of health, speaks at a press conference in Whitehorse on March 30. Hanley announced three more COVID-19 cases in a release on Nov. 21. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Three more COVID-19 cases, new exposure notice announced

The Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Brendan Hanley, announced three… Continue reading

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: COVID-19 strikes another blow at high-school students

They don’t show up very often in COVID-19 case statistics, but they… Continue reading

The Cornerstone housing project under construction at the end of Main Street in Whitehorse on Nov. 19. Community Services Minister John Streicker said he will consult with the Yukon Contractors Association after concerns were raised in the legislature about COVID-19 isolation procedures for Outside workers at the site. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Concerns raised about alternate self-isolation plans for construction

Minister Streicker said going forward, official safety plans should be shared across a worksite

The Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley, pictured at a press conference in October, announced three new cases of COVID-19 on Nov. 20 as well as a new public exposure notice. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
New COVID-19 cases, public exposure notice announced

The new cases have all been linked to previous cases

Beatrice Lorne was always remembered by gold rush veterans as the ‘Klondike Nightingale’. (Yukon Archives/Maggies Museum Collection)
History Hunter: Beatrice Lorne — The ‘Klondike Nightingale’

In June of 1929, 11 years after the end of the First… Continue reading

Samson Hartland is the executive director of the Yukon Chamber of Mines. The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during its annual general meeting held virtually on Nov. 17. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Yukon Chamber of Mines elects new board

The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during… Continue reading

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and — unsurprisingly — hospital visitations were down. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Annual report says COVID-19 had a large impact visitation numbers at Whitehorse General

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

City council was closed to public on March 23 due to gathering rules brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The council is now hoping there will be ways to improve access for residents to directly address council, even if it’s a virtual connection. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Solution sought to allow for more public presentations with council

Teleconference or video may provide opportunities, Roddick says

Megan Waterman, director of the Lastraw Ranch, is using remediated placer mine land in the Dawson area to raise local meat in a new initiative undertaken with the Yukon government’s agriculture branch. (Submitted)
Dawson-area farm using placer miner partnership to raise pigs on leased land

“Who in their right mind is going to do agriculture at a mining claim? But this made sense.”

Riverdale residents can learn more details of the City of Whitehorse’s plan to FireSmart a total of 24 hectares in the area of Chadburn Lake Road and south of the Hidden Lakes trail at a meeting on Nov. 26. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Meeting will focus on FireSmart plans

Riverdale residents will learn more details of the City of Whitehorse’s FireSmarting… Continue reading

The City of Whitehorse is planning to borrow $10 million to help pay for the construction of the operations building (pictured), a move that has one concillor questioning why they don’t just use reserve funds. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Councillor questions borrowing plan

City of Whitehorse would borrow $10 million for operations building

Most Read