Through a varied collection of painting, photography and sculpture, Vancouver-based artist Tracy McMenemy seduces the viewer into endless and ongoing passage of time in her latest series, Ghost Passages of the McKenzie Shipyard. McKenzie Barge and Marineways was a landmark along the Burrard Inlet in Deep Cove, BC; an epicenter of industrial development in the North Vancouver community since 1932.
The day before the shipyard was demolished by the real estate developers Polygon, McMenemy began her material investigation of the once working waterfront. She discovered a collection of signifiers that referred to experiences of the working class of North Vancouver.
Ghost Passages is an artist’s resurrection, marking a turning point in the history of the Burrard Inlet. The objects resurrected from the shipyard are a particularly important subject for this body of work because of their connection to history. They act as a witness to the changing landscape. McMenemy has given these objects a second chance; a renewed purpose. Rendered entirely useless over time, they have become something new again.
In my work, I am fascinated by abandoned landscapes and sites of transition in history. The shipyards play a particularly important role for me as it is a piece of my community. Returning to my studio with detritus from the shipyard, I created nostalgic paintings, organic sculptures and ghostly photographs. All of these lost objects became signs of passage.
Combining a variety of techniques, McMenemy continues her iconic method of recontextualizing images beyond the point of recognition. Using recognizable symbols of the working class, she captures a moment, frozen in time, of the once lively shipyards now desolate and forbidding. These paintings bring light to the darkness, creating stories that will remain after the society that surrounds them fades. The trace memories of the blueprints pieces speak of residual energy in abandoned spaces.
McMenemy presents a momento mori, a reflection on mortality, through her chosen objects. They become markers of faith; protective symbols that remind the viewer of strength and steadfastness during times of unpredictable tides. Ghost Passages is a blueprint for a graveyard and a resurrection of the blood, labour and loss seafarers suffered during the better part of their lives working at the shipyard.