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The Explorer

A few months ago, one of my drawings was amongst six others selected as part of a banner competition organized by the Yukon Department of Culture and Tourism.

“The Explorer” captures a lot of what my life is about. I spend my summers in the mountains working as a geologist, sometimes looking for gold, but mostly just mapping rocks. In the winter, I trade my hammer for a nib pen and a paintbrush, and I draw and paint about the places I visit and the people I meet.

Detail of The Explorer (© Esther Bordet Painting)

The Explorer is a mixed media drawing. I used a nib pen and India ink to draw the linework. The Yukon mountains in the background are coloured using watercolors. This particular landscape is inspired from the Pelly Mountains, which I was lucky to fly over one day as part of my geology work. The woman character is coloured with inks.

You can read this drawing in a very pragmatic way, and just see a woman looking for gold. In this sense, the piece is a tribute to all the women who took part in the Gold Rush back in the days, which constitutes a big part of the Yukon history. It is also dedicated to all the women who paved the way during the past decades to allow my generation to have a better place in a male-dominated industry. And finally, I hope it speaks to all of the women who continue to explore.

The size of this gold nugget held by the woman is quite unreal, In fact, I don’t think I can decently call it a “nugget”; it is more like a boulder. This element is where my piece speaks more about dreams. You can read it in a way that is much more inclusive, not just as a woman looking for gold, but as a woman looking for her dreams and finding them. This is why I called the piece “The Explorer”, rather than “the geologist”. And I believe the Yukon is one of the rare places in the world where you can look for your dreams and find them, whatever they may be.

The six banners created by Yukon women artists all capture the essence of Yukon lifestyle, culture, and history

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