Spiral into Time

Zinc and photopolymer etching, 33×33 cm, 2017

This print was made in commission for the Heritage Art Series.

“Ammonites are relatively common in North America. They were occupants of the former Bearspaw Sea that once washed what is now the centre of the continent in warm and shallow water. In Southern Alberta, river valleys have carved into the Bearspaw Formation and revealed a plethora of fascinating extinct organisms.”

“The Heritage Art Series is a collaboration of the Historic Resources Management Branch, the University of Alberta, and the Royal Alberta Museum. Each artwork shares an important story about the people of our province: we hope it fosters a greater awareness of our past and instills a deeper respect for it. The etching below is by Calgary artist Eveline Kolijn and appropriately captures the wonderful complexity of the ammonite story in Alberta. Reconstructed ammonites swim with contemporary creatures that spill across the septa of a split ammonite shell. Diatoms (tiny and intricate aquatic organisms that reveal environmental conditions to paleontologists) float against a backdrop of cliffs in southern Alberta.”

Read more on this series and the wonderful story of Ammonites in Alberta, in the article: 
Rainbow Fossils and Bison Calling. by Todd Kristensen.

Living in landlocked Alberta, I miss the ocean. I want to taste the salt, feel the water, smell the sulphurs of algae and fish and hear waves crashing on that shore, where water meets land. Fortunately, I discovered the Bearspaw Sea. Over 300 to 400 million years ago, in the Devonian epoch, Alberta was mostly covered by expanding and receding seas.

In this shallow Bearspaw Sea, the tropical reefs formed. Tiny marine organisms, algae and sponges used carbon-dioxide from the atmosphere to build their calcium carbonate structures. In ten million years, they formed a kilometer’s thick bed of rock. In the following millions of years, the ancient plant- and reef-animals have decomposed, have been buried and have been cooked by the earth’s heat into the black fluid we call oil. The ancient fossilised reefs are highly porous and they serve as important oil reservoirs in many parts of the world.

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