Revisiting Ghost Barn

ghost barn - carey jernigan and john haney - fieldwork 2014
ghost barn - carey jernigan and john haney - fieldwork 2014
ghost barn - carey jernigan and john haney - fieldwork 2014

- Submitted by Carey Jernigan (one of the makers of Ghost Barn, 2014)

A friend and I made our way to Fieldwork from Toronto last fall, driving northeast and watching the trees turn from green to yellow to red.  It was a grey, rainy day and quiet in the woods.  I was excited to see the sculptures installed five months earlier and curious to know how the weather had affected them.

We spent a long time sitting with Zone Vert's cones and spotted what might have been a chipmunk hole in the sawdust.  We walked up to Geoff Wonnacott's Knot and looked out on the field through the fallen foliage.  We checked in on Speaking Volumes' monolith of books and Wip-poor-will's oversized nest, both showing signs of decay and signs of life.

The installation I created in collaboration with John Haney - Ghost Barn (shown here), had insects and grass growing in it.  The rain made transparent, meandering lines on the surface of the barn.  It was interesting to see these marks of weather and time appear, since Fieldwork is the sculpture's first long stay outdoors.  I've started to see it as a creature developing a story:  a passage through place and now time leaving some things steady and others changed.

I'm remembering this now having returned from a month long residency in Porto, Portugal. Porto is an ancient city, with narrow streets winding up and down the rugged shoreline.  Partly because of Portugal's joining the European Union and several manufacturers leaving the city, most streets are dotted with abandoned buildings tucked in between those still in use.  All of them have ancient facades so it's not until stopping for a moment to look up that you notice which ones are empty: the shutters falling off a hinge or two, dried up houseplants on a balcony, a crack of sunlight showing through the roof, or some other side of decay.  That moment of discovery, delight, and also sadness looking up at an abandoned house reminded me a little of the moments we spent in the forest at Fieldwork scouring the sculptures for signs of the season, and looking up into the trees that I remembered in full bloom back in May.

Time Spent with Wood in the Woods

fieldwork 2014 - zone vert - le temps des arbres

We arrived at Fieldwork via Old Brooke Road, an attractive winding country road full of traces of human history and a diversity of flora and fauna.

The site itself offers artists the choice between a beautiful field, a cultivated pine forest or a wild forest. During our week long residence at Fieldwork, we were able to complete the work we had envisioned. A work that we incorporated into  forest and ecosystem of this region. “Le temps de l’arbre” is an installation incorporating many different materials, the milieu provided both a form as well as a variety of natural resources and colours. The rich landscape enabled us to integrate different mementos of tree history (might be “the history of trees”) into human life.

The warm welcome - Susie your salads and vegetables satiated our taste buds and stomachs as much as the forest inspired our creation. The technical assistance of Susie and her team contributed to the pleasurable experience of participating and creating at Fieldwork.
Fieldwork is a rural art space, a rare and precious place that makes us appreciate art and creation in its essence, far from the urban frenzy and draw of technology.
We hope that this space continues to flourish and that more art lovers will discover it.

- Zone Vert (Christine Juillard and Michel Bachelet)

The Knot

Fieldwork 2014 - Geoff Wonnacott - The Knot
Fieldwork 2014 - Geoff Wonnacott - The Knot
Fieldwork 2014 - Geoff Wonnacott - The Knot

A couple of shots of The Knot being 'tied'.  Geoff Wonnacott (artist) and his sister Victoria Wonnacott spent a few days weaving together many, many yards of plastic drainage tile.  Typically this is used in agricultural fields - buried underground to help drain heavy soils that are slow to drain.  According to The Summary of Agricultural Drainage Tubing Sales in Ontario, 1976 - 2012, enough pipe was sold (and assumed buried/used) that could circle the earth at the equator 30 times. This is equivalent to about 750,000 miles or 1,200,000 Km.  Or, to put it another way, this is enough tube to go to the moon and back and then to the moon again. That's a lot of plastic pipe!

The Knot alludes to the complexity of the systems we now rely on in our 'global' culture and the impossibility of untangling or extricating ourselves from it/them.  Now sitting on a knoll overlooking the field, Wonnacott's Knot is a looming reminder, lurking in the background, of the 'intractable problems' we are currently facing on a global scale.

Bookmark This!

fieldwork 2014 - cuerden kraenzle - monument to the book

Speaking Volumes: A Monument to the Book is a joint installation for FIELDWORK 2014, by artists Karina Kraenzle and Barbara Cuerden.

The work is about stillness, and interiority, the kind that is particular to the book. In an era where bookishness seems to be disappearing, Speaking Volumes is a testament to the internal voice and its absence - and the persistent beauty of the material object - being slowly returned to its source.

The structure is a sentinel made of books, in a small glade in the pine forest at FIELDWORK.  The free-standing structure is accompanied by fragments torn from the books themselves. Words and phrases are suspended from surrounding trees, like nearly perceptible whispers.

More about Speaking Volumes can be found at the artists' project blog: http://stillvoices.weebly.com/




Art on the Verge of Permaculture

Fieldwork - Whip-poor-will installation by Cresky, Walter and Osler

Whip-poor-will is a collaborative effort between artists Marc Walter (Wakefield), Lisa Creskey (Chelsea) and Susie Osler (Maberly).  They created it over 3 days of sourcing materials - branches, logs and material on-site that were the 'refuse' from winter cleanup at FIELDWORK mixed with layers of rotten hay and leaves.  The installation includes a large ceramic whip-poor-will by Cresky, and over 100 small white, seed-embedded, unfired clay moths by Osler placed within the 'nest' - that are meant to be 'distribtuted' around the site by visitors.  The nest is built to human scale - encouraging people to enter and 'feel' like a whip-poor-will might - camoflaged by its surrounding sanctuary or startled by the intrusion of others.  

The nest is located on the verge between the field and forest - a place symbolically situated between the 'cultured' (field), and wild' (forest).  Verges as we know are places that often host great diversity of life, or perhaps creativity...

The whip-poor-will is a rare bird in some parts of Ontario.  At FIELDWORK we are lucky to have a perfect habitat for these birds and each year they return to haunt us with their evening and dawn mantra..."Whip-poor-will-whip-poor-will-whip-poor-will-whip-poor-will-whip-poor-will-whip-poor-will...."

Whip-poor-will  will remain here permanently.  Next spring the artists plan to cover the entire structure with more forest debris, soil and hay and plant into it - in the hopes that over time it will break down, contributing habitat to the local flora and fauna.  The installation is, in effect, an example of Hugelkultur meeting art...   And one of art that works in and with the land - taking both inspiration and materials from the site and cycling them creatively into a new form that hopefully leaves a positive footprint on the landscape and the imagination.

Gearing up for another great year at Fieldwork

With 2 weeks to go before the opening of our 2014 exhibition, things are heating up around the field.  Spring has arrived in its full glory. After a long dormancy the poplars are just beginning to blush verdant green, the pin cherries are blossoming, the field is greening up fast and the air is rich with the layered and looping song of frogs and birds. Artists too are making their way to FIELDWORK, enlivening spaces within the landscape with their creative activities. 

Five new installations are being built in the few weeks before the opening on May 24th.  Here are a couple of pics of the first two as they evolve within the landscape.  The collaboration between Barbara Cuerden and Karina Kraenzle, Speaking Volumes: A Monument to the Book and Whip-poor-will, a collaboration between Marc Walter, Lisa Cresky and Susie Osler.

speaking volumes in process







whip-poor-will in process











(Re)Seed is re-invented and (Re)Seen at RIA, Ottawa - May 2014

susie osler - (re)seed (re)seen - 2014 - RIA project room - reseeded flower

Photo: Unfired ceramic flower from (Re)Seed/(Re)Seen installation at RIA Project Room (Ottawa). Visitor took flower from installation and placed it in a location that needed some life.


I was invited this winter to participate in an interesting group show curated by Petra Halkes at RIA's Project Room.  The show, called Never Forever, gathered together work by 6 artists that, as Halkes states,  '[spoke] with empathy of heroic human efforts to hold on to things, to create unchanging systems, to imagine an order that lasts forever.'

My contribution to Never Forever was a re-imagining of the ceramic installation (Re)Seed I presented at the 2011 New Art Festival in Ottawa (find it in the menu to the right for more info)

More on this latest iteration of the installation -  (Re)Seed/(Re)Seen - is here

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