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By Nigel Douglas, AWA Conservation Specialist
Reproduced by permission of the Alberta Wilderness Association
Since 1992, Edmonton artist Pam
Wilman has been drawn to the
breathtaking scenery of southern
Alberta, which offers a rich source
of inspiration for a landscape artist.
As an artist, she quickly developed
an appreciation of the beautiful
viewscapes of the Whaleback, the
castle, and the crowsnest Pass,
along with a desire to capture these
on canvas. but more than this, she
understands the fragility of these
landscapes and the need to protect
them. She sees her art as a tool to
help achieve this. This is a central
theme of two Edmonton
exhibitions of Wilman ’s work. Her
“Viewpoints ” show runs from
November 2 to 30 at the Fringe
Gallery in the basement of the
Paint Spot on Whyte Avenue. The
show is about the castle wilderness
area and the need to protect the
wildlife corridors in southwestern
Alberta.“I wanted to raise more
awareness for the area to get
people to protect it as a provincial
park in the future,” says Wilman.
“That ’s why the work has been
focused on the area. ”Wilman and
other artists have been working
from a University of Lethbridge
facility in blairmore since
1992.coming back to the area year
after year has allowed her to
observe and chronicle the changes
that have taken place.“There are
more people coming to the area
now – more campers, more
backpackers and hikers. And there
are all-terrain vehicles and
motocross and helicopters and just
about everything on those trails.
”One of the most dramatic changes
was the 2003 Lost creek fire.“It
was a really devastating fire;it
really affected the whole
community,” she says, but it
proved to be an inspiration for her
work.“The first year right after the
fire, everything was charred black.
The next year there was a little
more silver and then a little more
fireweed coming up. You could
really see the changes over time.”
One of her pieces, “Lost creek Fire
recovery,” focuses on the renewal
stay on the trails, they look after the
trails and they have pride – but there
are people who are all over the place
and scarring everything. ”but it
certainly isn ’t too late for the
castle.“I don ’t know what ’s going to
happen in the future for this area.
Ideally it would be a provincial park
and it would be stabilized. To me it ’s
the one area in Alberta that still has a
chance to really become something.
”Wilman ’s next exhibition will be at
the McMullen Gallery at the
University of Alberta Hospital from
December 14,2007 to February 10,
2008.Her work will feature in a group
show of landscapes called “4 Outside
Views,” which will focus on southern
Alberta. “This exhibition will show
people four artists who love the area
and how they are able to use their
style and their vision,” says Wilman..
“It will show how artists can paint in
the same area but approach it totally
differently. ”Wilman is clearly an
artist with a conscience, who wants to
use her talents to achieve better
protection of the landscape she
loves.“A lot of people want to do
something to help the environment,”
she concludes. “This is my way of
doing that. ”You can see more of Pam
Wilman ’s images online at
“Lost Creek Recovery ” © Pam WIlman
that ultimately follows from the
dramatic destruction of such a
huge fire.“The forest now is
totally different,” she says..“There
are still birds coming and you can
see a bit more life coming back,
but you can see how it ’s going to
take a long time. ”Wilman has
realized that the castle region,
where AWA and other groups
have been calling for increased
protection for many years, is now
at a crossroads.“The castle is
becoming more discovered
now;more problems are
happening,” she muses.. “A lot of
ATVers are really good – they
“Westcastle View” © Pam WIlman