November 2012

Some Thoughts About Creature Trail - An Installation by Stefan Thompson (Autumn 2012)

fieldwork, stefan thompson, creature trail, wool

Early Morning:  This picture (above) was taken the morning before i put on the finishing touches.  Its definitely deer like, but also kind of looks part dinosaur.

I arrived at fieldwork about 9 days before the opening.  I wanted to create a trail through the woods on which viewers could find hidden creatures.  So i named the installation creature path. I made markers to help visitors find their way to each of the creatures.  It was a great challenge and I learned a lot.  Around the third day I remember walking barefoot to the swamp to collect willow branches in the middle of an amazing torrential downpour.  You know, the kind of storms that just soak you and the rain moves around in waves.  When you were a kid you probably ran outside in your underwear in these.  It was September, but still fairly warm out.  

The sculptures and drawings of the creature path were made on site but I did prepare some of my materials in advance.  This is a picture of the wool i used, drying between trees at my studio in Rupert QC. Theres a lake there so i brought the wool out to a raft in the canoe.  It was surprising to see how easily the oils washed out of the fiber with a little soap and lake water.  I tried felting the wool after arriving at fieldwork but I wasn't really prepared or experienced with the procedure.  I ended up wrapping it around the wood frame of my 'deer like' sculpture. You can also see rawhide and buckskin, some of the material i used to tie the wool in place around the underlying frame.  The coloring is made from charcoal mixed with beeswax.  Its all natural so it can decay on sight when its ready.  I expect a lot of birds in the area will be lining their nests with wool this spring.  And someone will likely get a meal from it at some point.

Hiders: The First things I made when I came to fieldwork where some drawings on birch trees (using a homemade crayon).  I ended up working on a fair number of creatures by the time I finished.  Some obvious, others  harder to find.  Here is an example of one that I think could easily go unnoticed by viewers.

Many thanks to the fieldwork team for having me and especially Susie for helping me through the process and generously housing me at her farm.














Emotional Mending

When I visited fieldwork in spring 2010, I fell in love with it and the idea it represents. fieldwork shows us that you can find art unexpectedly in unusual places. The element of surprise at this location gives artwork a completely different context than when one finds it in a gallery space. 
In thinking about my work for fieldwork I imagined the quiet, mysterious, pine forest as a perfect background for my work. I decided that my work should address two simple things: mending and grafting trees.For me sculpture is a process of thinking and ideas which first evolve on paper and later in form.  After a year of thinking, drawing and knitting, the work for this location was ready to install. The artificial knitted branches will be up for half of the year; silent witnesses of season changes. During most of this time, the branches will stand out awkwardly from the trees, looking like tree prosthesis or grafted branches.  They will show visitors the way out, the way in, or give them the freedom to be lost in the absolute silence of a pine forest.

Blind Hunting and Gathering

fieldwork, chris grosset, blind, autumn 2012


It’s been a busy time for sport hunt enthusiasts in this part of eastern Ontario.  I saw many satisfied hunters rushing around this past weekend. The first two week period of deer hunting season in the wildlife management unit where the fieldwork site is located closed yesterday.  The next hunting period for this year runs from December 3rdto 9th.  Meanwhile, retailers in Ontario are gearing up to take advantage of bargain hunters on Black Friday, November 23rd, an American shopping traditional that coincides with the celebration of Thanksgiving south of the border.  Our Canadian retailers don’t want to Canadian shoppers to miss their chance to bag a few good deals so the marketing is in full swing.

All of this activity made me reflect on blind, my recent installation at fieldwork.  The forces of politics and economics have transformed many things in our lives, including our connection to the land, and the resources that are provided by the land.  I think we're being put in a position of defending our food choices and where our food comes from.  It seems to me that our attitudes towards hunting and shopping are greatly influenced by where we come from, whether rural or urban, and these attitudes can also define our connectio to the land itself.

blind invites visitors to the field to take some time for quiet contemplation, inside a hunting blind structure, to think about where their food comes from, and whether we are hunters, gatherers, or somewhere in between. Ask yourself this question, “where does my food come from?”, and then maybe think a little about why that matters.