“The Black Tusk” - 2019

48” x 60” - Oil on Canvas - 2019. Private Collection.

The Black Tusk is one of British Columbia’s most distinguishable mountain peaks. Visible from Whistler and the Garibaldi region, it has been a source of inspiration for travelers, athletes and many artists.

During the last two million years volcanoes and glaciers have added dramatic scenery to the landscape of Whistler and the surrounding area. Once a volcano, that erupted about 170,000 years ago, The Black Tusk is composed of solidified layers of lava, tephra, pumice and ash that were inside of the conduit. Centuries of erosion have stripped away its outer cone of bombs and ash forming its narrow summit spire.

To the Squamish people, the Black Tusk is known as t’ak’t’ak mu’yin tl’a in7in’a’xe7en, meaning “Landing Place of the Thunderbird,” while for the L’íl’wat, the mountain is called Q’elqámtensa ti Skenknápa, meaning “Place where the Thunder Rests.” It is said to be named after the supernatural bird Thunderbird. The story goes that the jagged shape and black colouring of the Black Tusk is due to the Thunderbird’s lightning, or as another account goes, by the Thunderbird’s talons that crashed into the peak.* 

Both in legend and in stone the Tusk is simply fascinating, and continues to draw us in and awaken our desire to explore it closer.

On a sunny, late-winter morning, the air is cold, the sky is clear and the fresh snow is covering the mountains like a soft blanket. Flying at 7,500ft the views around us are breathtaking. A seemingly endless succession of mountain peaks, valleys and ice fields that makes us ponder on our significance within this majestic landscape. 

In front of us, emerging, unique, intriguing, The Black Tusk stands tall. An epic scene, reminiscent of the tale of David and Goliath, where the soft and fading snow, overpowers and erodes the massive, jagged black volcanic rock formations in a battle of light and darkness, persistence and resistance, the permanent and the impermanent.

What a privilege, to behold this scene, that took millions of years to come together. What a privilege, to be able to attest to this sheer expression of beauty and capture it in a painting. Freezing in time an instant, that will never be the same again.