Image: “The Knot” by Geoff Wonnacott at Fieldwork
For those who love art and the great outdoors Fieldwork, the outdoor art gallery located at 2501 Old Brooke Road near Maberly, is the place to be. On May 24 over 75 art lovers gathered for the project’s biggest opening since it got underway in 2007. Fieldwork is an art collective that receives funding from the Ontario Council for the Arts, and which presents “thought-provoking, site-responsive art installations” to be enjoyed by the public free of charge. The collective this year includes three of its founding members Susie Osler, Chris Osler, and Chris Gossett and new member for 2014 Sheila Macdonald. The collective invites visitors to stroll the freshly mowed paths and venture into the surrounding woods to experience top notch art in a gorgeous natural setting.
Part of the magic of Fieldwork is the role that nature plays in the viewing, not only by inviting a dialogue between itself and the art works, but sometimes providing the actual materials from which the pieces are constructed and inspired. The new 2014 art works were created by members of the collective and guest artists and are a mix of pre-made art installation pieces and others that are made of materials found on site.
Geoff Wonnacott's piece titled "The Knot" is from the first category. It took the artist three days to create and in the artist’s words the piece speaks to “the interconnectivity of things at every level of life.” The Knot appears to be from another place and time, like a foreign object that landed in the woods from another world but in actual fact it was created from a much more common material - plastic drainage tubing, tons of which lie hidden underground virtually everywhere there are buildings. The artist cited some statistics on the material itself - specifically how sales of the stuff in Ontario alone from 1976-2012 would “be enough to circle the equator 30 times over.” The piece speaks to the never ending knots created by the ongoing interconnectedness of the natural and man-made world and how this interconnectedness, like The Knot, cannot ever be undone.
The piece “Ghost Barn” created by Carey Jernigan and John Haney pays homage to wooden Ontario barns of the past. The over eight foot structure, constructed from sheets of translucent white industrial acrylic, sits on top of a pile of old salvaged barn boards front and centre in a huge open field. The piece pays homage to the artists' love for the barns they grew up around and laments the fact that these traditional structures are quickly disappearing from rural landscapes. In Haney's words, “The whole concept of the piece was to talk about both the presence and absence of the form and to draw attention to its disappearance.” The piece is charged by solar-powered LEDs and appears to glow from within after dark, adding to its mystery.
The Zone Vert artist duo of Christine Juillard and Michel Bachelet, who hail from Sherbrooke, Quebec, created their piece titled “The Time of the Tree”, a series of unique conical shaped tree forms of various sizes made from wooden materials found on site. One tree, made from well aged and weathered moss-encrusted boards, is astounding in its color variations and it blends in wholly to its forest surroundings. Another, constructed from burned planks, jumps out at the viewer from a stand of white birch trees. The piece celebrates in abstract form the shape and idea of the tree using the forest both as back drop and as a material source.
The fourth piece titled “Whip-poor-will”, created by artists Susie Osler, Lisa Creskey and Marc Walter, speaks to the idea of home if you happen to be a nocturnal, noisy and rarely ever seen whip-poor will. The large scale nest created from huge piles of natural debris found on the property invites the viewer inside where an amazingly camouflaged, huge ceramic sculpture of the creature is nesting. As one looks more closely one finds many hundred white moths nestled in the nest walls, each made from unfired clay and containing wildflower seeds that the viewer is invited to take away and disperse around the property.
The final piece in the show is by far the most colourful. Set in a sun-dappled section of pine forest, “Speaking Volumes-In memory of the book” took a truck load of 1500 books to create. The work, created by Barbara Cuerden and Karina Kraenzle, is a cylindrical structure made from donated books and aims to replicate the interior feeling and stillness that books create for readers. The piece, an amazingly colourful form, has a magical presence that immediately invites the viewer to contemplate these 1500 now silenced voices, which will be left by the artists to go back to their original source.
Following their talk the artists invited guests to the piece for a reading of two poems, the first by Czeslaw Milosz titled "And Yet The Books" and the second by L.A. Koensgen titled "Pathetic Fallacy". Fieldwork makes a great day trip destination for those who like to be challenged by cutting edge art that is often inspired by and created from the very place it sits. Fieldwork is open all year round and is free of charge. For more information visit www.fieldworkproject.com