Ghost Forest - CODAworx

Ghost Forest

Client: MA Rouyn-Noranda

Location: Rouyn-Noranda, QC, Canada

Completion date: 2024

Artwork budget: $150,000

Project Team

Sculpture, Installation

Richard Watts

Crowe River Studio Ltd

Fibre Art/Tapestry/performance

Ixchel Suarez

The Canadian Tapestry and Texture Centre


“Earth Etchings” Sculptural Installation imprinting Nature/Canoes. These larger scale exhibitions (4500ft2, 6000ft2) are the result of collaboration between different artists and media to create immersive experiences related to environmental issues and climate change. They combine film projections, animation, sculptural interpretations of vessel forms like canoes combined with the shapes and movements of aquatic creatures such as fish, dolphins, whales (TheMuseum Atrium installation). The installations create a kind of “Life Journey” through the space, connected by a meandering projection of a River. The “Ghost Forest” installation consists of suspended lightworks made by layering vulcanized latex rubber and gauze on various surfaces in the landscape such as rock faces along rivers, trees, old wooden boats and canoes, and in particular the logs that insects have “carved” with their patterns, a kind of cuneiform writing. The overall feeling is of being suspended in time in relation to
changes in the environment in our time…the “Earth Etchings” create a contemplative experience of Nature indoors. The Canoe People series on the website are like cathedral windows made from impressions of historic canoes, they are also like couples, together and separate.


TheMuseum is a family-oriented museum that began as a Children's Museum, and its goal is to integrate Art and Science in different ways, so they do shows that bridge pop culture with art, science, and education. Musee d'Art Rouyn-Noranda is a more formal art institution in Quebec near Montreal. But both institutions are seeking new ways to redefine the traditional art museum and address contemporary issues in a variety of forms and media. We have become a very screen-oriented culture with much of our connection to Nature and Natural Processes, occurring through digital devices, with more and more "Making" outsourced in some way to machines, so it is more important than ever to give audiences especially the next generation the experience of actual material forms, made in unusual ways, to draw attention to things they might otherwise not consider in their lives. The exhibitions are intended to draw attention to environmental issues. Both institutions have large "maker spaces" for family-oriented art explorations related to the content of the exhibitions.


The MA Rouyn-Noranda show is a collaboration between Ixchel Suarez, Richard Watts, and Dimitar Pentchev: Tapestry, Sculpture/Installation, and Projections and Soundscapes related to the Insect Writing series, with Experimental Music/Tapestry Performance weaving (SoundWeavers Collective), combined. TheMuseum show is a project of the People's Climate Collective, part of the People's Climate Foundation, combining 4 artists: Kai Reimer-Watts, a documentary filmmaker/activist on climate change issues (see, Abhilasha Dewan, an Animation Artist (, Richard Watts, environmental installation artist (,, and Ixchel Suarez, Tapestry artist ( The planned exhibitions will take approximately 2 years to develop. The collaborations between different artists and media will create an unusual combination of Physical Material art and New Media. immersive experience which we hope will travel to other institutions to raise awareness about environmental issues.

Additional Information

The intention of the work is to animate spaces with forms taken from Nature. The Atrium Installation for TheMuseum show was designed using images of dolphin and whale pods, which we then abstracted into gestural metal line drawings with coloured panels taken from the Insect Writing and Tree Bark "Earth Etchings". These panels evoke ancient Inuit vessels with the light shining through the kayak skins. Richard Watts has been working with abstracted skeletal vessel forms for a number of years, combining the ribbing structures of aquatic animals with those of canoes, exploring how human design has evolved from observations of forms in Nature. Ixchel Suarez' sculptural fibre art Laurentian Forest moves tapestry into 3 dimensions; these works are lit from within like the spirits of trees and elements of the body...the fragmented metal tree sculptures in the MA Rouyn Noranda show are intended to do with tree forms what Antony Gormley did with the human figure in his Domain Field--a sense of atoms or energy somehow defining a form by moving in and out of it. The "Forest Shells" series are castings from the forks of trees inverted to look like human figures, connecting our bodies to Nature. These works can be freestanding, wall mounted, lying down, or otherwise composed.