Saturday, 30 July 2011
They say the best things come out of the blue. Last summer Meghan Paterson found herself in a place called Refuge Cove, in Desolation Sound on the BC coast. Boat and floatplane access only, sleeping above the water in a stilted house, relearning the simplicity and beauty of coastal life after living in the city for 15 years. This was a return to her roots, having grown up the child of caretaker parents on a tiny island called Gooch in the Gulf Islands.
In the early 1970's a group of educated 'back to the land' 30-somethings, purchased this parcel on West Redonda Island from Norman and Doris Hope. Therein was founded the Refuge Cove Land and Housing Co-op project of 18 member shares. Uncle Norman passed on, and Auntie Doris continued to live in their old cabin in the cove until the mid 1980's as an active member of the co-op. This became a vibrant community consisting of a gas dock, general store/postoffice (both predating the co-op), laundry and showers, a cafe bakery, and a burger stand famous for miles around. Refuge Cove was the hub of Desolation Sound.
Meghan was immersed in the culture of this tiny coastal village and the daily life of it's residents and transients, along the boardwalks and around the cove. This community is in decline, it's buildings in a state of beautiful decay. There's a colourful cast of characters that live there and the way they live their lives is almost as apparent in their faces as their eccentricities. When these people, now in their 60's, move on from here, Refuge Cove as it has existed for the last 35+ years will change drastically. In this series of paintings Meghan wanted to document this moment in time, while Refuge Cove is still under the watchful eye of it's co-op keepers.
Staying on into October, tourist traffic had all but ceased and the generator had been turned off, the General Store closed. After endless days of sun and bleached wood, the greens and grays started to creep in with the damp. The remaining residents helped each other saw up escaped mill logs, salvaged from the sea. Preparing for the cold months as fresh cedar and woodsmoke mingling on the crisp air. It takes a certain kind of person to exist there year round and few actually do. From what Meghan gathers it's pretty bleak in the winters, pretty dark. To survive up there they have to help each other. And in that community lies the basic humanness that rarely exists in the city. Safe in Camp is a saying often used by Don Wicks, a longtime, year round resident.
One version is that it comes from hunting trips, when everyone's accounted for, all machines are in working order, and food is being made, everyone has a bunk. Don says it's about memory and it's about friendship.
Welcome to Refuge Cove- you're Safe in Camp.