August 2012

Midsummer Installations Installed

When creating art, it makes a difference having access to the right tools and materials, specially when constructing large scale sculpture, installation or land art. This very known fact became increasingly apparent at my recent fieldwork residency, where I had the fortune to have full access to Susie Osler and Cam Gray’s ceramic and wood shops. The objective? to develop a series of what I’m calling ‘wearable sculptures’: life-sized sculptural forms designed to frame, reflect, surround or shelter the human body.

Having the playground set (an open field and the workshops), it was just a matter of finding the most abundant, free materials available in the area. In recent projects, three things have become very important to me: to not generate but use waste, source all my materials locally, and use as little monetary funds as possible. After a couple of days of walking around scoping the site, my main material became obvious: discarded wood (leftovers from construction projects, fallen branches, and pine slabwood from a neighbor’s sawmill). To my delight, all of them had a different and fascinating quality: red pine bark that looked like pink salmon scales; white pine knots that suggested golden-tanned skin; twisty sumac branches that turned silvery against the zenit sun. The other materials just fell into place to either contrast or compliment the wood: natural and olive-green glazed ceramics, as well as gold and silver colored metal mesh.

Once I had the materials, tools, and conceptual drawings in place came the hard part: working efficiently to match what my imagination had concocted. I have to say that it was definitely a challenge, not only because it was the first time I worked with such media, but mainly because of the high temperatures and abundant insects that come included in the package of working outdoors in summer. And you would think these would barely tickle a Mexican! but here’s where stereotypes always fall short. Due to Ontario’s recent drought and bat disease (which increased temperatures and insect numbers considerably), I counted on four ‘workable’ hours in the morning (7 to 11 am) and three in the evening (5 to 8 pm), since drilling and hammering in full sun while being attacked by giant flies and mosquitoes is neither healthy nor fun. So having Susie and Cam’s cool abode nearby where to ‘recharge batteries’ was a real life-saver.

The most valuable aspect of the project for me? I would say having the space and time to create…creative freedom and production support in an inspiring setting. We need programs like fieldwork to create art. We cannot talk about art, conceptualize art, teach art, sell art, if there’s none in existence! In our current increasingly conceptual phase of art, I cannot steer away from my deep love towards physicality (of the human body, materials and environments). And physicality only exists in space and time, so cheers to that!

Old Brooke Rd. Old Field: An Incomplete Field Guide and Self-Guided Tour. Thoughts from artist Sylvia Pendl

fieldwork, sylvia pendl, spring 2012
fieldwork, sylvia pendl, spring 2012

Images above: S. Pendl.  Studies for Old Brooke Rd. Old Field: The Incomplete Field Guide and Self-Guided Tour. (2012)

The ways in which undefined wild places and landscapes are perceived, and named, informs how they are valued. Landscapes that appear to be undifferentiated: an old agricultural field, a woodland, a lakeside, a pond, are now romantically valued. Sometimes people gaze at them as they pass by on their way elsewhere, to a place where there is something to do, something going on. Yet all of these fields, forests and water bodies are precise arrangements of plants, animals and relationships, teeming with activity, albeit in a quiet way.
However, these natural phenomena are not discreet, fragmented items. These seemingly individual wonders: a shrike employing a hawthorn’s thorn to impale its prey, as an example, are inter-related and have connections that reach far beyond the place they may be found in, while at the same time they are also very much of their location.
I fear that literacy in the natural world is disappearing. Although western science has allowed for fragmented insights into the physiological aspects of the natural world, this perception of “objective” seeing and investigation has neglected other ways of seeing. This method of deconstruction and categorization does not acknowledge that all the individual entities are part of a larger schema. The inter-relationships and connections remain invisible.
Knowledge disappears quickly. I am already forgetting some of the things my father told me about the forest when I was young. The knowing of these things needs to be practiced regularly so that I don’t forget. What will future generations know about the world outside if they no longer have any context or thread to learn from?

- Sylvia Pendl

Upcoming Barn Party - Fieldwork is Five!

We've got a big day of events coming up soon at fieldwork.  It's been a busy year with workshops, many new installations, visiting artists, and, coming soon, the opening of 5 new installations for the Autumn/Winter season, as well as our first fundraising party (WE ARE SOLD OUT OF TICKETS) in celebration of our 5 years of presenting site-responsive public art, free to the public in a field in eastern Ontario!  Thank you artists, supporters (like you) and funding agencies (like the Ontario Arts Council) for making this possible these past 5 years.

So what's in store this September???

When:  Saturday, September 15, 2012

Opening ALL WELCOME. Free admission.  3-5pm at fieldwork (see directions in menu to the right).  5 new installations by artists Chris Grosset (Almonte), Stefan Thompson (Ottawa), Joan Scaglione (Kingston), Bozica Radjenovic (Ottawa), and Alicia Marvan (Mexico).

Where:  See 'location' in the menu to the right

Barn Party  SOLD OUT!    Doors open 7:30pm. Music starts 8pm.  Tickets $20  (must be purchased in advance).  Contact us at to reserve/purchase.

Where:  Wildwood Farm Barn -  across the road from fieldwork

Two fantastic bands:  The Good Right Arm Stringband (Toronto), and The King of Swingers (Westport). 

Desserts, snacks and beverages will be available.

We recognize that some may be coming from afar so we welcome campers from out of town (though please contact us to let us know numbers).  Campers must be self-sufficient.  Note, that due to dry conditions no campfires will be permitted.

Sorry but we cannot accept your pets....

More information will be posted in the coming weeks so stay tuned (and join our facebook group for further postings fieldwork - land art exploration)

More from Part Lot 18, Concession 6

fieldwork- part lot 18 - susie osler 2012

Photo credit: Samantha Parton

Some recent updates about Part Lot 18, Concession 6 can be found here

Great Article in The Frontenac News!

alicia marvan with one of her sculptures


We had a lovely mid summer's evening gathering to celebrate the creations that Alicia Marvan made while visiting fieldwork in July.  Thanks to all the good people who came out to enjoy the evening which even included some delicious Mexican mole chicken!

Julie Druker from The Frontenac News  was one of those who stopped by for a gander.  She interviewed Alicia while visiting.  Here is a link to the great article she wrote about Alicia's installation.  Many thanks Julie and The Frontenac News!


Photo by Julie Druker

Fieldwork cover story in The Humm in August!

Thanks to Sally Hansen from The Humm for this wonderful article (page 3) about fieldwork's five years of presenting public art in our field.  Much appreciated!  And for anyone not already familiar with this monthly paper, check it out.  It is a great source of information and reviews of the arts, entertainment and local food scene in this part of eastern Ontario

Midsummer Opening of New Work by Alicia Marvan

When: Friday, July 27.  6 - 7:30pm
Where: fieldwork - click on the menu item to the right that says 'location' for directions

Cost:  Free.

The fieldwork Collective invites you to come out to see our recent installations, and new work by Alicia Marvan (Mexico).
Alicia has been a visiting artist at fieldwork for the last few weeks, during which time she has been experimenting with materials and building her work in response to the site.  We hope you can visit, meet her, and interact with the creative results of her time here!

Continuing works by Barbara Meneley, Sylvia Pendl, Susie Osler, Dan Nuttall, Kelly Price and Scott Dobson.
Join our Facebook group for updates and more photos:


Artist's Statement - Alicia Marvan

Inspired by pine trees, one of Ontario’s most abundant endemic species, as well as fieldwork’s hosts and their crafts (ceramist Susie Osler and carpenter Cam Gray), Alicia Marvan’s new works incorporate fashion and performance art into site-specific wearable sculptures. The relationship of the artworks to the human body is not only symbolic, but tangible and experiential, inviting the viewer to become participant.

“In both nature conservation and nature-inspired art, human presence is often excluded or kept to its minimum, as if implying we are not part of nature, or we are a threat to it. In my works, I purposely design with and for the human body and psyche. I then place the works in natural environments because that’s where they belong in my imagination; they are meant to exist in close relationship with nature. I think of them as a reminder that we humans cannot live without air, water, soil, and biodiversity.”

Alicia Marván (Mexico) is an artist, designer and curator dedicated to contemporary and experimental practices. Her interdisciplinary approach to art has led her to an ongoing investigation of a variety of media that explores color, space, form, movement, time and thought. Her work has received support from numerous cultural organizations and academic institutions in Mexico, USA, Canada, Germany and The Netherlands. She holds a B.A. in Dance and Performance from the State University of New York, and directs the Guapamacátaro Center for Art and Ecology in Michoacán, Mexico.

About fieldwork:

fieldwork began in the summer of 2008 with installations by the fieldwork Collective (Chris Osler, Chris Grosset, Erin Robertson, and Susie Osler).  Now in our 5th year (2012), we are happy to welcome a 5th member, Barbara Meneley, to our Collective. We are looking forward to marking this year, our 5th anniversary, with a couple of celebrations so keep checking in to see what we are planning.

Our intent is to present imaginative, thought-provoking, art installations in a field in rural eastern Ontario.  fieldwork  has hosted work by local and international artists for the past five years, and invites the public to visit the field site and explore the artwork year-round.  Admission is free. 
More information on past installations can be found by scrolling down this page and/or by looking in the archives and galleries in the right hand menu.  Directions to the site can be found

If you would like to be notified by email when a new posting or change has been added to this blog, press the orangy/red 'Subscribe' button (RSS symbol) in the menu to the right and follow the instructions.  We also have a Facebook group called '' which we welcome you to join.

For information on the first three installations at fieldwork (Summer 2008, Autumn 2008, Winter 2008/09)  visit our old blog.

fieldwork gratefully acknowledges the continued support of the Ontario Arts Council, as well as all of our friends, volunteers, and especially our artists and visitors!