Making Believe, Once Again

After a two-year hiatus due to numerous scheduling conflicts, I was at last able to revisit an ongoing project this weekend – one that is dear to my heart.

Spent an all-too-brief 24 hours out near Smoky Lake on “The Farm,” working on getting reacquainted with Make:Believe. I’ve written about this project several times, as it’s developed: 2011,  a  and several times in 2013 (1) (2) (3) … and every time I have the opportunity to work on this installation, I learn more.

It was fascinating to come back to this work, to begin the dialogue with it again. I had so many questions – I didn’t know what I would find, or even how to gauge the “success” of the work after being away from it for two years. We also spent some time on Friday night revisiting the original proposal and ideas around the work, to see if the still rung true.

A tremendously rich process.

DSC01831WEB

The work was at least partially as I expected it – but it did need some serious attention. After so long, some of the branches had ‘sprung’ from their places the weaving, as they were held in place with linen cord, which had rotted away in place.  So I had some weaving to do!

DSC01829WEB

DSC01828WEB

Fortunately, the tunnels between the spaces were in pretty good shape, so there wasn’t too much that had to be done there ….

DSC01823WEB

 

But I also wanted to add to the work on this trip, so I started in on a new tunnel and a couple of new spaces.

DSC01822WEB

DSC01821WEB

 

It was amazing to see the new height on much of the caragana after the time away – which made some of the new construction really quite easy. The extra reach afforded by the new growth allowed me to quickly connect and weave branches that I wasn’t able to before, without the need of cord to hold them. Remains to be seen if this is a more effective method of working than tying things together, but it felt really satisfying to be able to just work with the branches with no cord at all.

DSC01820WEB

 

It had been so damp from the rain, there were mushrooms and fungus of all sorts everywhere in the stand! Made me think I was working in a Fairy Ring!

DSC01816WEB

DSC01815WEB

 

I was really happy with the results of the work out there, and I’m hopeful that I will be able to get out to the site a couple of times this autumn to continue expanding the project. I also set up a motion-triggered camera in the installation, which I am hoping will begin to capture the movements of animals though the spaces. When people aren’t around, it’s apparent that they use the spaces and tunnels between them to move from one part of the farm to another – so with a little luck, I’ll have a record of these travellers, just as they have something of a record of me in the place.

It’s good to pick up the conversation here. A quiet and productive time in a place that feels like it remembers me.

 

A thought or two on Idealism

My first full day in Nova Scotia – overnighted at the airport hotel, and will be heading to Day 1 of my residency at Main & Station in Parrsboro shortly!

Excited to get there, get settled, and get to work … .

Planning and researching, in order to make work that bridges disciplines and methods of articulating ideas: through sound, in sculpture, talking with and about scientific explorations, drawing as a meditation and as a performance … and all of this engaged to one degree or another with the public realm.

Both in and of the community. Rooted in landscape as place and as source of natural phenomena.

All kinds of conversations here, but they are at base conversations between things and people.

And coincidentally, what should come to my inbox, but an article about Christo’s piers, and all the complicated things about this kind of work.

IMAGE CREDIT: Hilda Hoy, as found on Artnet
IMAGE CREDIT: Hilda Hoy, as found on Artnet

Food for thought …

You can find the full article here.

IMAGE CREDIT: Hilda Hoy, as found on Artnet
IMAGE CREDIT: Hilda Hoy, as found on Artnet

I was particularly struck by Hoy’s observations on the idealism of the work – particularly as it pertains to the recent Brexit, mobility, and migration (bodies in space) – and how this idealism comes up against the reality of work in public space, and that asks for public engagement directly.

(as a sidenote: I also find it interesting that Hoy mentions her Canadian roots, and the relative isolation of our huge country in relation to borders, boundaries, and movement … more food for thought here … does this explain my fascination with edges/boundaries, and with breaking them down or exposing them? is that a “terribly Canadian” thing I do?).

Hoy notes:

I doubt Brexit was on the minds of any of the thousands of people experiencing Christo’s magnanimous installation that Thursday. We were all too busy frolicking across the water, marveling at the scenery, and snapping selfies. And I’m sure any such symbolism was the furthest thing from the artist’s intentions—he and his late wife Jeanne-Claude first hatched the idea for the piers in the 1970s. “All the artwork Jeanne-Claude and I do is work of joy and beauty. They don’t serve anything except to be a work of art,” he said in an interview with Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera in April.

and that

By a coincidence of timing, Christo’s Floating Piers became a symbol of how art can (quite literally) bring people together, but also how these connections are fraught. Soon, the piers will disappear and life on Lake Iseo will go back to normal. The EU will go back to normal, too, though we already know it won’t quite be the same.

At the risk of stating the obvious: context, scale, location … and fame … are markers that thoroughly differentiate my plans from this work entirely!

That being said: what has struck a chord for me is Hoy’s insights about both the impulse behind the work, and the potential for its lasting impact. I make work to speak about things in ways that (for me) defy the use of words exclusively; there are ideas I try to embody in the act of making and in the presentation of finished work that I hope people respond to viscerally.

A building, and a tearing down, simultaneously. Not without complications. A process that changes everyone involved and (hopefully) allows us all to see and experience things in the world  – and ourselves – a little differently.

Idealistic, yes. Unabashedly so – there’s more than enough in this world, including Brexit, to make us jaded and cynical.

 

 

 

 

A thought …

… that I came across today. A quote, actually, from Martin Creed, that sums up some of the ideas that have been rolling around in my head for a while now.

On a more literal level, working some of this out through the creation of the original Boundary|Time|Surface installation in 2014, and in other ways in the work that arose from it and that is now on exhibition in Newfoundland.

At any rate, Creed said:

“I started thinking about the difficulty of drawing lines on a map, making country borders, which is exactly the same as drawing on a piece of paper. Any definite border is against nature and against life.”

Things bleed into one another; that is the reality of it all. Eventually, all the myriad ways of dividing up the world (and ourselves) break down and erode. The edges get fuzzy, or float away.

These compartments we build are convenient, but they are illusions.

btsfromcliffhitideWEB
View from cliff top
fromthebeach
View facing the cliff at Green Point

Thanks Martin, I needed that today.

{SOURCE: “Martin Creed on Why Art Can’t Ignore the World around It” by Philomela Epps, https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-martin-creed-on-why-art-can-t-ignore-the-world-around-it}

Boundary|Time|Surface is Open!

It’s been very quiet here lately … and a bit frantic everywhere else in my life.

Just got back from a week in Newfoundland, installing Boundary|Time|Surface at the Discovery Centre Gallery in Gros Morne National Park! The exhibition will be up for the entire season – until early October 2016. If you have a chance to visit this magical place, please drop in, and let me know what you think!

It was lovely to be back in Woody Point. It’s a gorgeous spot on the planet, and the terrific people out there make it even better. The staff of Parks Canada and all the folks I’ve met in Woody Point and Rocky Harbour are part of what makes Gros Morne so special to me; it’s been more like a family reunion than going to work. Waking up to whales playing in Bonne Bay every morning didn’t hurt either!

It was a hectic, challenging, tiring week – but worth it to see this work up and complete in a way I’ve not had the opportunity to experience until now. It’s a very interesting process/experience, seeing the work all together for the first time; there’s always that element of wondering if what you’d envisioned would really make sense in the space, as an integrated series of pieces that speak to the viewer both individually and as a whole.

Here’s a (very short) video walk-thru of the exhibition (apologies for the slightly shaky footage – handheld on a phone isn’t ideal, I know):

And a few still images of the work as well:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I wanted to take a moment to thank some people for their help in making this exhibition a reality …

John Waldron – my geological partner in life, the universe, and everything, scientific collaborator, resource person, and tech troubleshooter extraordinaire

Jennifer Galliott – artist, entrepreneur, and top notch exhibition install assistant (she makes a mean latte too!)

Rob Hingston – and Parks Canada for having faith in the project, and bringing the exhibition to the Discovery Centre

Bruce Gillam – for his assistance with the lighting, cabling, and making things the best they could be

It’s time to  regroup a bit, nurse my colossal jet lag and exhaustion – and start to get organized for the next round of work and travel … more on that in a bit.

Spring!

I’ve been so immersed in work lately, that it’s good to have a reminder that it is indeed SPRING …

The simple exuberance of those first bright green buds on the trees, the enthusiastic (and sometimes frantic) birdsong from the bushes … makes me want to be outside much, much more than I am currently able.

SO.

A little eye candy for the day’s work, for everyone who needs to be indoors today, instead of enjoying the sunshine.

BikiniBerlin_06

BikiniBerlin_03

BikiniBerlin_01

BikiniBerlin_02

BikiniBerlin_04

BikiniBerlin_08

BikiniBerlin_07

 

Beautiful work by Rebecca Louise Law. Would simply love to see this in person!

Enjoy!

(images via thisiscolossal, courtesy Bikini Berlin)

 

 

Balance

 

He makes it look easy. Oh, it’s not.

I am smitten with the meditative and performative quality of this type of work. When I make work like this – site based, body based, working with natural materials – I feel most at home in my skin.

As an artist especially.

Thanks for the reminder, Adrian Gray.

 

Ice Ice Baby

I’ve been doing some travelling recently, in and out of other parts of the country – and in and out of winter (and spring) along with the shift in landscape and time zones.

But wherever I’ve gone, there’s been ice, in all it’s beautiful, slippery, dangerous glory. Slick sidewalks, crusted roads, feather-frosted puddles and windows, shards and chunks in bodies of water. Yes, there’s water moving, to be sure, but its colour alone speaks volumes about how close in temperature it is to the ice floating in it, surrounding it, still covering most of it as it rushes underneath.

All this frozen stuff has made me want to retreat – to hibernate (again) – keep under the covers, wait for the sun to (finally) warm things into liquid, into spring, into green and growing. But I’ve also been drawn to it. To what it leaves unsaid, to its potential.

Under that veneer, it’s so very alive.

Of course I know that rationally  – but it’s easy to forget this time of year, when the grip of cold air and random storms serve as continual reminders that not yet is the refrain when we ask for the next, warmer season to begin in earnest.

And then I came across this, and understood why ice fascinates me as much as want it al to melt – I want to see this in person one day – to experience seeing that still surface reveal whats really going on … always only change.