badlands, hoodoos & petroglyphs

Hoodoos near Drumheller 1999

We have been planning a short driving holiday through the Rockies into southern Alberta, visiting friends along the way in BC and Red Deer, Alberta. Our ultimate destination, Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park is a place I’ve been wanting to visit for some time. I want to photograph the hoodoos and petroglyphs for my continuing Silent Messengers series.

On a visit to Red Deer in 1999, our good friends took us to see the Hoodoos and the Royal Tyrrell Museum near Drumheller. They were so inspiring that some of those images eventually went into a few of my Nexus series, such as Nexus II and again recently in the first three Silent Messengers.

Some time in the 70’s we first drove through the Alberta “badlands” on the way to northern Saskatchewan, unfortunately in too much of a hurry to stop for photos, but that sight left a lasting impression. Much later, during Expo 86 in Vancouver, that memory was vividly revived by an outstanding Imax 3D film called “The Last Buffalo” by Stephen Low, set in those same badlands. It features the creation of a sculpture, so the artistic theme appealed too; I’ve seen it twice and recommend it highly.

In fact, Tom Montag and I had an email conversation a while ago about the Alberta hoodoos which he’s visited “twice in this lifetime”. Tom said: “I think the hoo-doos at Writing on Stone are more personal; they speak right to you. I think the hoo-doos at Drumheller are more impersonal; they’ll talk to anyone…. if you get what I mean?” Having nothing else better to compare them to at the time, the Drumheller hoodoos still spoke very powerfully to me!

So, we have been looking forward to revisiting some of these unique areas as well as to our first visit to Writing-on-Stone. However, a week ago we heard from reports in news media and friends that there was flooding in this normally arid southern Alberta, and that the Park was closed due to washed out roads. Now we’ve learned that central areas of Alberta are experiencing severe flooding and travel is not advised. I feel empathy for the suffering Albertans, and very sad and disappointed that we’ve had to cancel our exciting trip. Hopefully we can make it later this summer – I really need to add to my image library!

June 20, 2005 in Being an Artist, Photoworks, Rock Art & Archaeology, Rocks by Marja-Leena