Artists turn eye on coastal rainforest in protest against proposed pipeline

The image of mist drifting over steep, tree-covered slopes that rise above an inlet, where a black bear searches for salmon, instantly evokes the Great Bear Rainforest.

Which is exactly what the artists contributing to Art for an Oil-Free Coast want to do.

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The painting is one of more than 60 pieces of artwork depicting the Great Bear Rainforest, by some of B.C.'s premier artists, that will be on display and up for auction at Victoria Conference Centre next week.

The art and a coffee-table book are the result of a special expedition to the north and central coast, organized by Raincoast Conservation Foundation.

Works by artists such as Robert Bateman, Roy Henry Vickers, Mark Hobson, David Goatley and Julia Hargreaves aim to draw attention to the fragility of an ecosystem that could be destroyed by an oil spill from a tanker.

It's a dramatic illustration of risks posed by the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline and the supertankers that would ship bitumen from Kitimat through rough northern B.C. waters, said Chris Genovali, Raincoast executive director.

Raincoast organized an expedition to the Great Bear earlier this year. Genovali hopes the resulting artwork will help convince people to fight Northern Gateway.

Proceeds will be used to help finance Raincoast's battle against the pipeline.

"These artists have a deep concern about the B.C. coast," Genovali said.

"Some of them had never been in that part of B.C. before the expedition and they were stunned by the beauty and power of the place and how vulnerable it was."

The opening night in Victoria will be Tuesday, at 7: 30. Tickets are free, but reservations should be made through Eventbrite Opening Night Victoria.

The exhibition runs until Sunday and bids on artwork can be made on site or online. It will move to the Art Spring Theatre on Saltspring Island from Dec.

11-16, and then to Nanaimo Art Gallery from Dec. 21 to Jan. 5.

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