Altering the Landscape: Vancity Credit Union Commission

In Spring 2012 Vancity Credit Union put out a request for proposals looking for artists to create artwork for two of their bank branches undergoing renovations. They wanted to invest in local artists as part of their mandate in building connections within the community. During the jurying process my work was shortlisted, and by July 2012 I was awarded one of the five available commissions.

One of the requirements for creating the work was to use recycled or reclaimed materials. I chose topographic maps of British Columbia I acquired secondhand as my main material. The maps were cut into circles using a compass cutter and remixed to play with the colours and lines of the topography.

Artist Statement:
There are three guiding principles behind the work I create: I am an artist driven by process, I explore the repetition of shape and form inspired by nature, and my preference is to work with reclaimed or repurposed paper-based materials.

The work I have created for the South Burnaby Community Stage was inspired by an acquisition of topographic maps of British Columbia from the Geological Society of Canada (GSC). The Robson Street location of their store was closing its doors in early spring 2012 and they invited artists to come and claim their cache of old publications and maps. Much of the materials were brand new and still relevant but were destined for disposal because the GSC was downsizing their facilities. As I transformed these maps into something new, I felt the significance of breathing life into items that would otherwise end up as waste in the landfill.

The piece has been created from repurposed topographic maps of Burnaby and surrounding environs. This material has been cut, folded and rearranged into a three dimensional structure of interconnected triangles, with intricate cut paper pieces interspersed throughout the composition.

The colours found in the map represent a variety of landscapes found locally. The built environment, found at the centre of the piece, is mapped in pink with grids of red lines. Three paper cut houses remind us, this is where we call home. The natural environment, our local mountains, waterways, and forests, are mapped in greens, blues and intricate contour lines, with paper cut designs interpreting shapes and forms found in nature. These manmade and natural areas are distinct within the piece but fully interconnected, and remind us our home is part of a larger picture.

In an abstract way it is an exploration of how we have transformed our natural environment. As I cut and rearranged maps representing the landscape of Burnaby and the GVRD, I couldn’t help but wonder how these areas will continue to be transformed and the landscape altered in the future, and how much of nature will be preserved.


The finished piece is titled, Interconnection: Altering the Landscape. It hangs on permanent display at Vancity Credit Union South Burnaby Branch in Burnaby BC.


© Rachael Ashe