Framework: Words on the Land. Public reading and conversation with 10 writers writing in-situ at Fieldwork. Sunday, August 23. 3 pm.

Fieldwork, Framework:Words on the Land, August 23

Fieldwork is excited to be partnering with the Ottawa International Writers Festival/Perth Chapter this year to present Framework: Words on the Land  - a writers weekend and public reading on August 23 at 3pm.

Writers:  Amanda West Lewis, Amanda Jernigan, Phil Hall, Michael Blouin, Matthew Holmes, Wayne Grady, Merilyn Simonds, Christine Pountney, Jeff Warren, Troy McClure

A growing collection of three dimensional artwork has been inhabiting the land at Fieldwork for the past 8 years.  This year we will also explore how the land can work on writers. For a weekend in August ten invited word-workers will be positioned in front of portals framing specific vantage points around Fieldwork from which words for stories, poems or other writing experiments will be invoked.  On Sunday afternoon (August 23) we are offering guests a window into their writing processes as writer-participants read from their creative output and discuss their experiences.

Words are ephemeral and elusive, like shadows of animals disappearing into the woods, until they are coaxed into phrases for the page or are committed to memory. But when a writer captures words to express an inspiration, insight or observation, words can become elegant and incisive tools with the ability to conjure new sensory experiences, perspectives and imaginative leaps in the minds of readers. The ten Framework writers were chosen, in part due to their broad swath of writing styles (poetry, prose, fiction and more) and thematic interests (from nature writing, to explorations of consciousness).  Please be sure to click on their names to learn more about them. We are pretty stoked that they are keen to participate in this weekend of land-inspired creative action at Fieldwork.

We hope that Framework will illuminate, for writers and listeners alike, our nuanced and varied relationships with, approaches to, and experiences of/in nature.  These are the common threads that are woven through all of Fieldwork's activities. Whatever emerges from this weekend experiment promises to be, at minimum, imaginative, fresh and full of sponteneity. 

Join us Sunday afternoon, August 23 at 3pm in the intimate and welcoming space of the barn loft across the road from Fieldwork (15 minutes west of Perth, ON) for readings and discussion with the writers at Framework.

Tickets will be sold only online through the Ottawa International Writers Festival website at at http://www.writersfestival.org/events/spring-2015/framework-words-on-the-land. Note that space in the loft is limited so it is advised that you purchase tickets early to avoid disappointment.  We will be selling tickets at the door only if there are some remaining on the day of the event.

Interested in knowing more about the participants? Over the weeks preceding Framework we are featuring a writer each week in our 'Sneak Peaks' on  Facebook and Twitter.  Have a look.

As always we encourage you to pass this on to friends who may be also be interested by using the social sharing buttons below. Thank you all for helping us spread the word!

We look forward to sharing Framework with you!

Fieldwork Opens Its 2015 Exhibition

Fieldwork 2015, 191 Meters, Christine Nobel and Brian Barth
Fieldwork 2015, Two Guiding Principles, Annette Hegel
Fieldwork 2015, Franc van Oort, Eye Box, inside the Camera Obscura
Fieldwork 2015, Kimberly Edgar, Bird Memories
Fieldwork 2015, Opening, Artists' talks
Fieldwork 2015 opening, Brooke Valley School kids, Ornithology 101
Fieldwork 2015,  Brooke Valley School student, presenting her science fair

Fieldwork opened its gates to 4 new installations, 13 wonderful bird boxes, a science fair, and many many visitors on the beautiful breezy afternoon of May 9, 2015.  What a great turnout.  We were all charmed by the students from our local independent schooll - Brooke Valley School - who painted and installed bird boxes and also presented their science fair projects - on birds - to visitors that afternoon at Fieldwork. 

We were pleased to also introduce our 4 new art installations which delighted and intrigued visitors:

Annette Hegel's Two Guiding Principles, Franc van Oort's Eye Box (a rotating camera obscura you can enter), Christine Nobel/Brian Barth's 191 Meters,  and Kimberly Edgar's Bird Memories.  More information and photos on each of these is or will soon be posted on this blog, so keep scrolling down the page and have a good read!

More photos of this year's installations (and other year's) can be found in the gallery menu to the right.  There are also many more on our Facebook Page which we encourage you to check out and 'Like'.

Many thanks are due in pulling together this year's exhibition. First of all a big shout out to the artists who have put great amounts of sweat equity, dedication, and passion into their wonderful work. Second, a bit thank you to the other collective members - Chris Osler and Sheila Macdonald who's councel and assistance is enormously appreciated. And also big gratitude to Cam Gray for being so generous with his time and expertise.  Coral Nault, principle at the Brooke Valley School, thank you for your creative ideas and for organizing the kids and their projects. Finally, we could not do this without the financial assistance of the Ontario Arts Council. Thank you OAC for your support once again this year.

Scroll down the page to read more about this year's installations.

Kimberly Edgar's 'Bird Memories'

Fieldwork 2015, Kimberly Edgar, Bird Memories
Fieldwork 2015, Kimberly Edgar, Bird Memories
Fieldwork 2015, Kimberly Edgar, Bird Memories

Kimberly Edgar's wheatpasted linocuts (over 60 of them) can be found at numerous sites around Fieldwork - if one is looking.  

She writes:

"I started off doing wheatpastes of linocuts and silkscreens in the fall of 2012. Wheatpasting, a street-art medium, is the process of adhering paper cutouts and images to walls and other objects using wheatpaste, a glue made by boiling flour, sugar, and water.

What drew me to street art were many things:
the idea of interacting with the spaces I pass through on a daily basis

  • the idea of beautifying ugly and run-down places
  • going outside at night to do this (which can be frightening when you’re a young woman)
  • the idea of drawing attention to things and corners often overlooked by the public
  • facing my fear of doing something that transgresses the law

I wheatpasted transient spaces, like construction walls and abandoned buildings, in order to draw attention to these ephemeral spaces and also to pay attention to ignored spaces. The wheatpastes themselves would fall off after a long while if they weren’t drawn on first, ripped down, or added to. At heart this process was temporary. Newsprint cracks and yellows in the most beautiful way, and in the summer, insects eat the glue.

I love the process of making a very labour-intensive product, and then sacrificing it to the streets. Printmaking is a long, labour-intensive process. On top of that I hand-cut each of my pieces, sometimes I hand colour them each uniquely, and paste them in clusters, so that one piece could take me upwards of a month to create. This futility helped to detach me from the end product of the work and to focus on the making instead.

For Bird Memories, I am taking this labour-intensive, temporary process and applying it to a rural area. Wheatpaste has urban connotations. I am curious as to how this method is read in a rural context. When I wheatpasted in the city, I used lots of natural imagery, mostly insects. I often felt like, in a small way, I was bringing nature into urban spaces. Now, I am bringing urban practices into natural settings. In some ways this reflects my own personal experience with rural and urban spaces, feeling that I don’t belong in either, as I grew up in the suburbs.

Living in Dawson City, Yukon has allowed me to consider the difference between the boreal forest in which I now live, and the st-lawrence/great lakes forest of eastern ontario which I grew up near. When considering how I wanted to explore the difference between these two forests, I conjured the most vivid memory of eastern ontario forests I could remember, which was bird watching with my grandmother. She and I would sit in her cottage with binoculars and she would teach me to identify the birds; grosbeak, cardinal, bluejay, chickadee. These birds (except the chickadee) do not exist in my new home. They have become symbols of the difference between the two canadian landscapes I know and have called home."

Annette Hegel's 'Two Guiding Principles'

Located at the front of the old sand pit at Fieldwork, Annette Hegel's miniature subdivision, Two Guiding Principles, like the incident that inspired it, is both a site of disruption, and one that is easily overlooked.  She writes on her  website:

"The 1975 “James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement” (regulating massive hydro-electric projects in Quebec’s North) between the Quebec, Cree and Inuit Nations was based on two guiding principles: first “that Quebec needs to use resources […] all it’s territory, for the benefit of all its people”; and second “that we must recognize the needs of the natives peoples […] who have a different culture and a different way of life […]

The last 40 years are proving that the two principles are at great odds.

While producing enormous amounts of power, the dams discontinued the way of life of the people living in their shadow: threats to food security – release of mercury into the water systems and thus into the food chain, loss of animal habitat; caribou migration patterns; climate change resulting in actual shift of the tree line; relocation of people for convenience; significant social impacts through new connections to the South. This is the classic tale of human interventions displacing what has developed over millennia, applying quick fixes.

The installation of Two Guiding Principles is placed in a spot of disruption on the FIELD, but maybe, if left alone it just might allow us a new perspective on old habits."

The above pdf can be downloaded by clicking here

Christine Nobel and Brian Barth - 191 Meters

fieldwork 2015, christine nobel, brian barth, 191 meters
Fieldwork 2015, Christine Nobel, Brian Barth, 191 Meters

Christine Nobel and Brian Barth's eye-catching 191 Meters, and some of their preparatory images showing the site overview, and a cross-section of the elevation gain in the field.

They write:


191 Metres expresses the relationship of water to the landscape, making visible forces of nature that may not be apparent through casual observation.. For example, after the glaciers left their mark on this region, much of what is now southern and eastern Ontario was covered with water as the climate warmed and the ice melted. Later, as the glacial lakes receded, the landforms that we see today were revealed. Since then, the interactions of rainstorms, surface flow, soil type and vegetation patterns has continued to sculpt and refine the contours of the landscape. It is this millennial dynamic between water and earth that we sought to capture. The title is a reference to the elevation of the Fieldwork site above sea level.

The installation is a marriage of our professional backgrounds in landscape design and visual arts. The installation contrasts the smooth surface of a lake with the dynamic movement of flowing water and the exuberant growth of riparian vegetation. A meandering line of blue and green posts travel along the low point of the field as if the last of glacial meltwater was draining away, leaving lush growth in its wake. The top of all the posts are perfectly level, as if forming the surface of a still lake, meaning they increase in length from the shallow to deep water as the slope travels toward the east side of the field. Early in the process of developing a plan for 191 Metres we surveyed the field with an A-frame level - a primitive surveying tool consisting of three pieces of wood formed together in a triangle that was used by the Egyptians and other ancient civilizations to lay out aqueducts, agricultural terraces and other works of civil engineering. We also used a laser level to determine the elevation change from one side of the field to the other.

Once the concept was established, we set about figuring out how to build it. We sourced about three hundred-fifty 8-foot wooden posts, purchased a battery-powered circular saw, a post pounder, 7 colours of blue and green acrylic paint and various other tools. Construction took place during a narrow four-week period between when the ground thawed in early April and the Fieldwork opening in May. On our first day of work there was still a layer of frozen earth about 4inches below the surface!

We began by setting up a string line along the elevation of our conceptual ‘lake’ which served as a reference point for figuring out the length to cut each post and how far to pound them in so they would all end up at the same level. The shortest posts are about 4 inches aboveground and extend to almost 4 feet tall at the ‘deepest’ part of the installation. The posts are spaced 2 feet apart and have been pounded deep enough into the ground to ensure stability through the seasons.

Once each post was in the earth, the paint was applied. The selection of the blues and greens went from a light moss green to a medium, reflective blue to a deep grass green—all meant to identify the depth of the water and its relative closeness to the grass or the ground. At the very end of the project we placed the stakes on angles to give the illusion of them falling towards the ground as if the water was spilling out of them. The placement of the stakes and intentional colour relationships make this an animated space that invites people to experience it in a playful way.

Franc van Oort - Eyebox

Fieldwork 2015, Franc van Oort, Eyebox
Fieldwork 2015, Franc van Oort, Eyebox concept drawing
Fieldwork 2015, Franc van Oort,
Fieldwork 2015, Franc van Oort, Eyebox
Fieldwork 2015, Franc van Oort, Eyebox drawings
Fieldwork 2015, Franc van Oort,

Franc van Oort's Eyebox has been a hit this year at Fieldwork for good reason.  It is an interactive, and facinating peek into how our eyes (and cameras) work, while also shifting perspectives of the surrounding landscape.

Franc describes his process:

"I have been experimenting with Camera Obscuras for a few years. The first one was just a portioned off part of my studio, built with cardboard, with a simple small hole in it. It worked as it should, and made me think of something to do with it.
Ideas occurred over the years.  I made a 4'X4' cardboard box mounted on a trailer, and hauled it around our field to see how well it would do. The projected image was not very crisp, and after experimenting with some old lenses, I found a lens that gave me a more or less perfect image. This could be used to trace an image, and get a very accurate drawing of a complicated shape, say a canoe in perspective. 

In the same way the Camera Obscura has been used in the past by artists to figure out the correct representation of buildings in perspective on a flat surface, which led to the establishment of a set of rules to follow when drawing things from life, i.e. multiple vanishing points, etc.

It was very hot and cramped in my little box, and I was thinking how nice it would be to have a somewhat bigger box, more like a room.  After visiting Fieldwork a couple of times I started thinking  that such a box would be a good idea for an installation there!  The Fieldwork Collective agreed, and so I started working on the idea more seriously.

I wanted not a single projection, but to be able to show the entire surrounding of the box, in 360 degrees. I designed things on paper, thinking I would use some sort of wooden gear to turn the box on its central axis.  This was easily enough done on paper, but how would it work when trying to turn a heavy 8'X8'X8' box?

I found a heavy duty lazy-susan type bearing which could probably support the weight of my box, and a number of casters that I mounted on a base, on which to turn the whole affair.  In the process my box became heavier than I had anticipated...more casters were needed to support the thing, and I abandoned the idea of wooden gears in favour of a big central 48" pulley made out of plywood, turned by a smaller(10") pulley, which in turn was driven by a 10-1 ratio gearbox. The smaller pulley turns the box around the big stationary one. Now the box turned beautifully, and didn't need a lot of strength to operate.

As for the lens, it also took a little experimenting to find one with the right focal length for this bigger box. Luckily Dr. Bain of the Perth Eye and Vision clinic was very helpful there!
Next came the painting of the surrounding landscape at the Fieldwork site, for which I recruited my sister-in-law Sally Sheeks, and my daughter Linda Hamilton, who are both accomplished mural painters, and not afraid to tackle a 8' x 32' painting!
We painted the scene in my barn, having put the big panels right side up, and side by side to make work easier.
What a blast to work with Linda and Sally! their enthusiasm was unstoppable, and we got the thing more or less done in a day.

The Eyebox, completed in my barn, now needed to be moved in pieces to the Fieldwork site, and reassembled.
This took some head-scratching, and help from a couple of friends, but we got it done, and voila the result!

My intention is not to use the Eyebox as an instrument to trace images, or produce art-pieces, but simply as a way to demonstrate the natural phenomenon that is a Camera Obscura.
What the box does is interact with the Fieldwork landscape and its visitors, and make us think of the similarity with the cameras we all use, as well as our own eyes, which work on the exact same principle.

I hope you will enjoy your visit, and get a kick out of it!"

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