114 cm x 107 cm

Ink and Acrylic on Mulberry Paper

About the Piece

Water was created by local Saskatoon artist, Cheryl Buckmaster. The piece was inspired by the topics, conversations, and science presented at the Prairie Water 3rd Annual Partners Meeting in early 2020. At the meeting, Elder Roland Duquette provided teachings related to water and its life-supporting nature. With permissions granted from Elder Duquette to portray some of his teachings, these words influenced the artist's approach and messages contained within the piece.

The imagery of Water speaks to the interconnectedness of water and our shared responsibility in protecting it. Symbols and vignettes are displayed on semi-translucent paper, suspended by a piece of driftwood. The depiction evokes the interdependence of humans and the ecosystems they are a part of, as well as the fragility of this relationship and of water itself.

At the heart of the piece is a call to action for collaboration in our approach to water management. We encourage you to generate your own reflections on the piece and the messages it portrays. The appended statement by the artist outlines the meaning of specific symbols as well as their contact information if you wish to provide comments.

Water is currently hosted at the National Hydrology Research Centre in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.

View the Piece

Photo credits: C. Buckmaster
Photo credits: C. Buckmaster
From left to right: Elder Roland Duquette, Jared Wolfe (Prairie Water Project Manager), and Cheryl Buckmaster). Missing from photo: Dr. Lori Bradford and Dr. Graham Strickert. Photo credits: K. Nugent
Cheryl Buckmaster painting at the 2020 meeting. Symbols and themes were sketched, painted, layered. The beginnings of the piece were then taken to her studio to be added to and assembled. Photo credits: M. Ferguson

The Process

Cheryl: The commission began publicly, by attending the Prairie water annual conference where I created ink sketches and notes of key concepts based on impactful water and environmental changes, and land based knowledge.
Cheryl: I took photographs to provided references and insights from scientific studies and models.  I hung the sketches and notes in my studio.
Cheryl: I layered symbolic imagery to give a feel of depth, this also allowed me to strategically place images to convey meaning and connection.
Cheryl: I let myself feel my connection to water. I let the information ruminate with and inform my feelings as symbolic images representing water and its current situation came to mind. I sketched these symbolic images. You can see the pencil sketch in the top of the photograph below. Then I began to add the new images to the original ink sketches made at the conference.
Cheryl: The connections between water and the information kept coming, it was complicated, and thus the sketch also became a step by step guide as to how to integrate imagery and layers. In total there are 17 pieces of paper layered into this painting.  
Cheryl: When would the painting be done? How do I finalize this water cycle of never ending connections?
Cheryl: The idea of the boulders atop the legislative buildings- holding knowledge of earth, compiling the weight of our responsibility for water, and laying the issue of water rights full circle is what concluded the imagery of water connections. Using thread, and driftwood from the Saskatchewan River, the painting hung perfectly balanced on one wire. Painting “Water” has been a great honor.