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Courtney Chetwynd

Chetwynd: Wish You Were Here

  • Artist: Courtney Chetwynd
  • Title: "Wish yΘu were here (First World War Internment Exhibit, Banff National Park)," 14.5 cm x 10.5 cm, 2015
  • Materials: balsa wood, gold leaf, washi tape, ink, paper

“Places, like persons, have biographies in as much as they are formed, used, and transformed in relation to practice…. Stories acquire part of their mythic value and historical relevance if they are rooted in the concrete details of locales in the landscape, acquiring material reference points that can be visited, seen and touched” (A Phenomenology of Landscape, Christopher Tilley 1994, p.33).

My practice attempts to uncover how visually based methods function to reveal what larger society renders invisible, focuses upon culturally produced sites of transformation, and the construction of identity and memory as a spatial process that is not only physical but should be investigated through the ‘invisible’ found within actions, images, and stories.

As a third generation Ukrainian Canadian, the Ukrainian Canadian history of internment during the First World War was something that was shockingly unknown to me until adulthood. Horrific living and working conditions were endured amongst an idyllic picturesque landscape of the mountains, which acted as a reminder of the entrapment. Labour efforts focused upon land clearing and transportation building in order to encourage tourism within the national park. This work highlights a national history that is largely lacking from Canadian remembrance, depicting a ‘receiving station’ and place where road building occurred, within Banff/Castle Mountain.

Research will continue through artistic investigation, which will translate primary accounts of internment in a visually directed manner and aims to map concealed stories, creating a multi-dimensional response a latent part of history. Exploring how collective memory acts as biography of a place.


Courtney Chetwynd is an artist-researcher who was raised in the Eastern and Western Arctic of Canada’s Northwest Territories. Currently a PhD candidate with the University of Dundee in Scotland, her work explores concepts of performativity and liminiality, through placed based research and multidisciplinary artistic practice.

Copyright Notice

Permission has been granted for image use to the Centre for Memory and Testimony Studies. All rights to images belong to the artists.

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