High-water watch: defending the flood plain
A Space Main Gallery
January 26 – March 10, 2018
Gaye Jackson’s photo series explores visual changes in landscape—brought about by extreme weather conditions—that probe our perceptions of the familiar. The winter and following spring of 2016-17 produced record-breaking precipitation in the Great Lakes basin, which was funneled into Lake Ontario. Water levels reached .85 metres* above normal, engulfing flood plains around its perimeter, including 40% of the Toronto Islands. In response to Island flooding, park workers supported by community volunteers placed 45,000 sandbags around vulnerable areas. Industrial pumps controlled water levels by continuously pumping water back into the lake.
During the flood, trees toppled as water undermined their root systems; carp were seen swimming above sidewalks and breeding on baseball diamonds; shorelines and sandbanks shifted; and land disappeared. The flooding is over, but sandbags still linger. The Island flood created disturbing juxtapositions that challenge our ideas of the natural order. Future events brought about by climate change promise a continuation of such dissonant experiences, and this work reflects on the need to adapt and prepare for the consequences of a changing climate.
Gaye Jackson is a photo-based artist originally from Fergus, Ontario. Her artwork has been exhibited nationally and internationally at institutions such as Justina M. Barnicke Gallery (Toronto), Gallery 44 Centre for Contemporary Photography (Toronto), Silver Eye Center for Photography (Pittsburgh), and Pearson International Airport, Terminal 3 (Toronto). She received an honours degree in Anthropology from the University of Guelph and studied Photography part-time at the Ontario College of Art and Design University (Toronto) and Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (Edmonton). She lives on Toronto Island.