Salvaged waste materials and acrylic on recycled cardboard 7’ x 2.25’
As I travelled along an old logging road that runs through a lush coniferous forest on the edge of town, I began to notice odd formations in the ground. I spotted pieces of plastic and metal protruding from the earth and realized that the vegetation was growing amongst a floor of garbage. There were piles of clothing, appliances, copper wire encasings, bottles, buckets, couches, plant containers, bullet shells, plastic dolls, nail polish, beer cans, food wrappers, and the list goes on.
I wondered how the heaps of discarded plastics, metals and chemicals affected the plant and animal life in the forest. I thought about smaller creatures, like the western skink, a 20 cm-‐long lizard endemic to British Columbia. The western skink is listed by COSEWIC as a Species of Special Concern due to threats posed to its small population by loss of habitat caused by urban development and agriculture. It is also threatened by the illegal pet trade, which covets the skink’s brilliant blue tail.
The blue tail is temporary in some individuals. If the skink feels threatened by a larger animal, for example a human trying to pick it up, it will drop its tail and leave its appendage behind to wriggle in front of its predator while the lizard escapes. Unfortunately for those of us who enjoy the aesthetic qualities of nature, the skink’s new tail will grow in brown, not blue.
The tail of this tiny lizard represents the fragility and delicate beauty of nature. If merely picking up a creature like the western skink can destroy its vibrancy, what might the impacts of discarding polluting debris in its last remaining habitat be?
June 13, 2016