ghost salmon

1 Whale & 50 Salmon, 2014     

1 Whale & 50 Salmon, 2014


Ghost Salmon, 2014

Ghost Salmon, 2014

We Felt So Rich,  2013

We Felt So Rich,  2013

Estuary,  2013

Estuary,  2013

We transform the world, but we don't remember it.  We adjust the baseline to the new level, and we don't recall what was there.         - Dr Daniel Pauly

In 2010 the west coast of Canada received a message from the past, the largest run of sockeye salmon in one hundred years.  We felt so rich.

The emotion created by viscerally experiencing the abundant generosity of our planet, generated this project, Ghost Salmon.

Previously our friend Dr Tom Reimchen of the University of Victoria, BC, developed his internationally recognized Salmon/Forest Project.  This theory explains how wild pacific salmon along with predators, scavengers and insects are a nutrient delivery system for the north pacific coast, as far east as the Rocky Mountains.  Essential nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus are carried in the bodies of the salmon from the ocean, to be distributed great distances inland upon their death.

Read a synopsis and an extensive article by Dr Reimchen

The installation, 1 Whale & 50 Salmon, explores the dependence of both the southern and northern resident orca populations on salmon.  That is, these orcas only eat salmon, period.

With the creation of the sculptural installation Ghost Salmon, Paul Burke is collaborating with Anna Gustafson, by powerfully evoking salmon of a size that are rarely seen in the wild in the present era.

Tom Reimchen has kindly allowed Anna Gustafson to incorporate some of his data and published material, in her ongoing series of paintings, We Felt So Rich.  The telling of these stories is made more compelling by the integration of archival images* with current science.

       *  Archival Images

  • salmon wood engraving, 1850
  • eagle, photographs, Eadweard Muybridge, 1880s 
  • killer whale, wood engraving, 1847




1 Whale & 50 Salmon  2014       

  • beeswax,
  • natural pigments: graphite,  red and black iron oxide
  • plexiglass    

We Felt So Rich  2014                

  • beeswax
  • natural pigments: graphite,  red and black iron oxide, terra veridis
  • plaster and wood

Ghost Salmon -sculpture  2013  

  • red cedar and milk paint  
  • Suitable for both indoors and outside

Paul Burke CV



I had everything, Threw it all away, Threw it all away          - Joan Armatrading