The Iron Throne from the HBO television series, Game of Thrones located by Babcock Creek, Tumbler Ridge Global Geopark, BC, Canada on March 30, 2019. © J. Ashley Nixon
Ephemeral art is there to enjoy while it is there; and then it’s gone. The ephemeral works of Andy Goldsworthy, for instance, with ice and leaves, may only last for minutes, captured with photographs before they melt away or float down a stream. Some of his work lasts longer; the time it takes for a mature tree embedded into the elegant structure of a drystone wall at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, to be taken over by fungi, and bacteria, and decay.
Metal goes that way too; eventually. Iron will last alright, the slow rusting process barely perceptible, especially when there’s some paint around, but it too will oxidize away. So, what a great idea by HBO to promote the next, and last, six-episode season of their epic Game of Thrones by picking six obscure spots around the globe and secretly move in replicas of the Iron Throne and put them on temporary display.
Hearing the news that one of these locations was reachable from our own, temporary quarters in Grande Prairie (we were there for our daughters playing in the Alberta hockey championships) four of us made the quest west, 200 km to Tumbler Ridge Global Geopark. We headed past giant beaver, through First Nation lakeside communities and along dusty gravel roads through the BC forests until we reached Babcock Creek. Hundreds of trekkers had got there before us and there was a proper queue of vehicles lined up along the road.
A short walk over the bridge led us to a viewing point over the creek where the Iron Throne, fashioned from multiple swords, was regally residing. But by the time we had walked up to the end of the queue, the organizers, supported by a couple of BC Bobbies, had closed things down. It was, perhaps, a mixed blessing as they predicted it would be another four or five hours of waiting before we might get a few moments to sit on the throne and pretend we were there to claim it from the House of Baratheon. Maybe Lannister? Or Targaryen?
On the other side of The Wall
Some of the patient travellers we met on the other side of The Wall were in character, robed-up and crowned-up; some holding authentic-looking, medieval swords. The best dressed were Doug and Susan from Circus of Hell. With quiet voice, Doug the Demon (that might be his stage name) confided with me that he was going to put on a pyrotechnic display when he got down to the big metal chair. The video clip on his Instagram site confirmed later that he truly did display his talents as a fire eater as well as showing off his flaming crown. Well worth a look, that.
Westeros or not
Walking back again towards the throne, I practiced some of my lines (“Winter is coming”; and “You know nothin’, John Snow”), and thought about Goldsworthy’s art in Yorkshire-how it fits so well with the feel of the sets in Game of Thrones– and my dog Arya the Airedale, named after my favourite character from the George R. R. Martin saga, who is sadly no longer with us. We came across other characters, not all of them out of Westeros. Wally (Waldo for some) was there in his red and white striped jersey and bobble hat. Harry Potter as well, caped-up and tattooed-up with lightning on his forehead. Maybe Game of Thrones costumes had sold out in the cosplay shop in Peace River?
The ephemeral throne was gone the next day, but the news online said that another one had been discovered in Queens, New York. A bit too urban for my liking. I will settle for my memories of the Iron Throne in the spring snow by Babcock Creek at Tumbler Ridge as I wait for the final season of Game of Thrones. It airs on the HBO Channel, starting on April 14.
View or purchase All Dressed Up: Portraits of Cosplayers
Some of these photographs are featured in my new book All Dressed Up: Portraits of Cosplayers. You can view (virtual flip page) and/or purchase a print copy or Instant PDF version (viewable on any device) via this link.
Copies are also available for purchase at The Camera Store, Calgary.