Michael Flaherty






Rangifer Sapiens

White earthenware with terra sigillata, cobalt sulfate, cobalt underglaze and clear glaze

During the summer of 2009 I lived alone for three months on the isolated Grey Islands off the north coast of Newfoundland. The largest island is the location of an abandoned community, Grey Islands Harbour, a once bustling place now empty because of the 1960s government policy of resettlement. Few remnants of the human community remain - a cemetary, a handful of ruined houses, pottery shards on the beach, and very little else. But it would be inaccurate to say the island is uninhabited: shortly after the people left in 1961 a herd of caribou was transplanted there. For more than half a century they have successfully persisted where humans could no longer - they have inherited the island in an ecological, physical and spiritual sense. The caribou leave their own record on the land - they carve trails through the brush with their footsteps and shed their antlers every fall. It is through these artefacts - antlers, shards, gravestones - that I draw a connection between past and present, human and animal, presence and absence.