The artwork of Oliver painter – and Swiss native — Kurt Hutterli will be featured on the cover of a new DVD release, “Swiss Guides in the Canadian Rockies: Beyond Adventure”, a documentary produced by the Consulate General of Switzerland in Vancouver as part of the Swiss 100 Canada project. This year, Swiss 100 Canada celebrates 100 years of official relations between Switzerland and Western Canada. The documentary, directed by Josias Tschanz, features interviews with mountaineering experts against a backdrop of stunning Canadian alpine scenery as they reflect on the impact Swiss mountaineers had on opening up the backcountry of the Canadian Rockies.
Swiss alpine guides had accompanied English mountaineers in the Rockies during the 1800s, but it wasn’t until a fatal climbing accident on Mount Lefroy in 1896 that the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) hotels hired Swiss guides to work for the mountain parks. Between 1899 and 1954 Swiss alpinists led hundreds of first ascents and taught safe climbing techniques to thousands of climbers. They also laid some of the most beautiful mountain trails, most notably the stone pathways in the Lake O’Hara region of Yoho National Park. Arguably, their skills training, and enthusiasm, helped to create the current cultural appreciation of the Canadian Rockies, together with a desire to preserve this remarkable landscape.
Kurt Hutterli (pictured at left) explains how he was personally contacted to help with this Swiss 100 Canada project:
“A while ago I got a phone call from the Consul General of Switzerland in Vancouver, Urs Strausak. He told me about the projects planned for the Centennial Celebrations of the diplomatic relations between Switzerland and British Columbia. One of the projects was a documentary about the Swiss guides in the Canadian Rockies by director Josias Tschanz (Counting Ants Productions) and produced by the Swiss government through the Consulate General of Switzerland in Vancouver. Urs Strausak asked me for ideas for the cover of the DVD. I sent him a copy of my RipOff Artists painting from 2010. All the people involved in the production of the movie liked it and it was decided to use the painting also for the flyers and the posters.”
Hutterli’s painting (above at top) was originally created as part of the 2010 challenge by Oliver’s RipOff Artists to recreate the iconic work by Group of Seven artist Lawren Harris, “Mount Lefroy”. Kurt’s contribution to the multimedia event was a whimisical interpretation that blended two famous works: Harris’ Mount Lefroy painting (below), and a black and white photograph of Swiss alpinist Eduard Feuz Jr guiding an unidentified visitor up Saddleback Mountain in the Lake Louise region near Mount Lefroy (at left).
Hutterli’s work often blends reality and fantasy. True to form, Kurt let his
imagination run wild in naming the “unidentified visitor” clutching Feuz’s hand in the photograph. He titled his piece “Ed Feuz Jr Guiding Emily Carr at Mount Lefroy”, giving a teasing doff of the cap to another BC artist! Hutterli delights in blurring the lines between legend and history in his art, whether working in oils or three-dimensional installations. Hutterli further describes this particular piece as “a contribution to BC mythology”.
The trailer for “Swiss Guides in the Canadian Rockies: Beyond Adventure” can be viewed here:
More about Swiss100Canada is here: www.Swiss100Canada.com
The premiere screening of the documentary is on Sunday June 23 at 5:30 at the Banff Centre, Margaret Greenham Theatre. No word yet on the release of the DVD to the public, but Kurt will keep you posted!
Friday June 21: Due to the heavy rain and flooding, and out of respect for those affected in Southern Alberta, the Consulate General of Switzerland in Vancouver has cancelled the Premiere Screening that was to be held in Banff this Sunday, June 23rd, 2013. The documentary Swiss Guides in the Canadian Rockies – Beyond Adventure will be screened at a later to be determined date.