Spiral into time
"...Where I live, the sea is in Deep Time. An ancient memory, set in stone, high in the mountains.
The Sea permeated my upbringing in the tropics, on a Caribbean island. I was immersed in the sea often and I scoured the beaches for treasures washed ashore. The forms and patterns on everything the sea yielded! The fascinating story of evolution: life germinating in the oceans! Life harnessing sunlight, creating the breathing oceans that give us oxygen.
I have witnessed the degradation over time; especially of coral reefs. This is at the root of my artist’s practise. Having never become a marine biologist, I am an artist-marine-biologist.
Living in landlocked Alberta, I miss the ocean. I want to taste the salt, feel the water, smell the sulphurs of algae and fish and hear waves crashing on that shore, where water meets land. Fortunately, I found the Bearspaw Sea in Alberta.
Over 300 to 400 million years ago, in the Devonian epoch, Alberta was mostly covered by expanding and receding seas. In this shallow Bearspaw Sea, the tropical reefs formed. Tiny marine organisms, algae and sponges used carbon-dioxide from the atmosphere to build their calcium carbonate structures. In ten million years, they formed a kilometer’s thick bed of rock. In the following millions of years, the ancient plant- and reef-animals have decomposed, have been buried and have been cooked by the earth's heat into the black fluid we call oil. The ancient fossilised reefs are highly porous and they serve as important oil reservoirs in many parts of the world.
The fossil oil, which has taken tens of millions of years to form, is now being consumed by humans in a few hundreds of years. By consuming the oil rapidly, we release the massive amount of carbon, which was sequestered by Devonian marine-creatures, back into the atmosphere. This affects our climate.
The current, living reefs are severely affected by climate change. Rise of temperature, increasing acidity of the oceans and increased pollution has caused three quarters of the world’s reefs to decline, die or bleach."
Eveline Kolijn 2020