The Little Cabin That Could
The “Blue Cabin” is experiencing a rebirth as a Floating Artist Residency in False Creek
The Blue Cabin was built in 1927 and was located in North Vancouver for more than 80 years. It served as the floating home of two local artists, Al Neil and Carole Itter for almost 50 years before their eviction in 2014. The Cabin was scheduled to be demolished but the arts groups throughout the Lower Mainland, including directors Glenn Alteen and Esther Rausenberg, began working together to raise awareness of the historical and cultural significance of the Blue Cabin as a symbol the artistic history of the entire population of the area, and especially, that of the indigenous peoples.
It has taken nearly five years and untold hours of work to raise the money and connect with the perfect architects, builders and artists to rebuild the Blue Cabin plank by plank. As the work progressed, the group realized that this was also an archeological project; at one point, they discovered 40 posters from 1927 when they took up the floor.
The Cabin now has a home; it is moored in False Creek and boasts another structure beside it. The Residence is a new 500 square foot building in which the artists working in the Blue Cabin can live. It is constructed of local materials including douglas fir and cedar, boasts a 360 degree view, and will leave virtually no carbon footprint.
The Blue Cabin has become a heritage project with a cultural mandate to include every kind of artistic expression, especially the contributions of the Salish, Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh Nations. For this reason, the Blue Cabin Floating Artist Residency decided that the inaugural programme would highlight weaving, which is integral to the history of all of the nations. “Skeins: Weaving on the Foreshore” will run from the public launch on Sunday, August 25th until the end of 2020 and will include three different residencies by Angela George (Squamish/Tsleil-Waututh), Janice George and Buddy Joseph (Squamish) and Debra Sparrow (Musqueam). They will be joined by the first international artist-in-residence, Vicki Couzens (Gunditjmara) from Australia.
Chief Janice George explained that weaving was chosen as the first residency because “blankets are central to everything”. They are protective garments which are pivotal in all important ceremonies, because they symbolize purity and “starting in a new way”. Some of Chief George’s earliest memories are of stepping on a newly woven blanket during ceremonial celebrations. The weaver’s job, she says, is to put protection into the blanket itself. All of the work happens before the ceremony itself begins; 80% of garments worn at an important gathering are woven.
The Blue Cabin is located in False Creek beside the Plaza of Nations Aquabus Stop at 750 Pacific Blvd. in Vancouver. It will have several open houses during the residencies. The schedule will be released during the launch; admission will be free.
For more details, please visit thebluecabin.ca
article and photos: Judy Robb