One mission: to awaken the conscience
Gisèle Benoit is the co-author of the book FRISSON SACRE du monde sauvage, published by the Society of Art and Science for Nature (SAS Nature), in June 2016.
From the quietness of the studio to the bustle of exhibitions and conferences in town, wherever I go, whatever I do, I remain the trout swimming against the current, the black spruce swaying in the wind, the owl in silent flight in the night, the vixen on the prowl, the beaver at work, the she-wolf in exile dreaming of returning home, to the secret refuge of the woods.
Dear reader, I invite you to take part in the quest that my parents and I have been conducting for more than thirty-five years. If you are attentive, you will notice the imprint of our souls on the lake’s bank, the undergrowth's dead leaves and mosses trodden by our hopes off the marked trails, a small furrow in the snow, almost erased, leading to the gray wolves’ rendezvous site - then, here and there, branches that we had to break and push away to facilitate the passage of the heart and the mind, burdened with the bagage of anxiety… and throughout the journey, key words engraved on the bark of birches, paintings and drawings hung on the trees. When reading, whenever you surprise yourself and begin to love and understand the squirrel, the deer and the chickadee, the track we have cleared will widen, and the work thus transmitted will become a starting point for the discoverers eager to go further. Then our life dedicated to nature will take on its full sense, because we shall have contributed to the propagation of the sacred thrill of the wilderness.
Author, wildlife artist and naturalist
Three essential excerpts from the book FRISSON SACRE du monde sauvage help to understand the Benoit family's mission and its influence:
An invitation, by Gisèle Benoit
My dear friends, awakeners of conscience, by Guylaine Simard, Director General of the Musée du Fjord
Afterword from FRISSSON SACRÉ du monde sauvage, by Gabriel Leblanc, the Benoit family's biographer
Poet's Bay – Moose Near the Camp
Oil on canvas © Gisèle Benoit
61 cm x 91 cm (24" x 36")
My dear friends, awakeners of conscience,
In 1997, I was enchanted by the relationship between the arts and sciences that emanated from your work, which proposed a new way of understanding nature. So I invited you to present an exhibition at the Musée du Fjord, The Benoits: Ambassadors of Nature. The originality of your artistic approach, often at the service of science, has conquered thousands of people. Humbly engaged in a research process that takes a discerning look at the issues of biodiversity, your art raises our awareness to the urgent necessity of conserving wildlife habitats. Your artistic language sheds light on the fragility of species and on their interrelationships. Your paintings, watercolors, documentaries and stories constitute a most eloquent tribute to the wild world. The nature of the feelings we experience when looking at your works of art goes far beyond mere esthetic contemplation; they make us reflect and dream insofar as we take the full measure of your creativity, of your tenacity to expose what you have found: a meaning to your existence that repels the immanence of our finiteness.
You have entrusted to the author Gabriel Leblanc the responsibility of exploring your artistic careers and the singular mission that imposed itself on all of you: to magnify the Boreal and protect it against human negligence. The biography he wrote is a veritable hypnotic wave, abundantly illustrated and accompanied by meditative texts by Gisèle. It testifies to the diversity of your work, marked by a constant quest for trancendence. I want to emphasize the excellent work of Gabriel Leblanc, since this biography exposes your family symbiosis and your atypical path in the history of Quebec art. The book FRISSON SACRÉ du monde sauvage exerts a prodigious spell!
With my deep admiration,
Director General of the Musée du Fjord
The Benoit family and Guylaine Simard at the launch
of the book FRISSON SACRÉ du monde sauvage,
at the Musée du Fjord, in 2016
Don’t seek among the rich and powerful of this world the personalities who have most influenced the Benoits. Their everyday inspirers live incognito in the forest. They are wild, independent and predominantly philosophers, expressing themselves in an incredible variety of languages and gestures that naturalists have learned to understand. In fact, Monique, Gisèle and Raynald spend more time with boreal wildlife than they spend with the members of their own family! Their mission as protectors of nature often brings them back to this side of the border, to the cities and institutions of mankind, but like the legendary Grey Owl, they linger there as little as possible. The beavers’ friend would have been happy to know – or maybe he knows it! – that, "on the threshold of the forests", the work of his disciples "strips away the ambitious soul of the conquistador, the murderous obsession of the hunter, the vain boasting of the blusterer". The true story of the trio, like Grey Owl’s, continues far from the honors of the civilized world.
Time is short and the Benoits always have a thousand and one projects to realize, a thousand and one pictures to create, a thousand and one treasures to discover and share. One millennium would be insufficient to satisfy the thirst for knowledge of these naturalists, whose career is exceptional. For Mother Nature, it is important above all that they have become, in their turn, the inspiration for a new generation of artists, scientists and allies of the wild world, whose actions will go even further than those of their predecessors, by necessity or foresight.
The Benoit family's biographer
Exhibition by Monique and Gisèle Benoit entitled
The Deer, Muses of Artists at the Musée du Fjord, in 2016.
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