It was a super long day at ACAD, from the time I got on the bus at 7:30 to the time I got home at 7:30. My fibre class went on a field trip to a farm in Bragg Creek, owned by friends of the teacher, Laura. We had a late start because we waited for everyone to show up, and then one person went to the wrong place where the cars were parked. I rode with Laura in her old Volvo station wagon, because she knew where she was going, naturally!
Bragg Creek is a little strip of a town about 45 minutes north of Calgary. It sustained a lot of flood damage in June, and there were still piles of rubble and former houses just off the main drag. Our hosts for the day were a couple named Lynn and John, both artists. They have this cozy little house and a couple of barns, and chickens, although I didn't see any. They were so happy to see a gaggle of art students! Lynn made cinnamon buns and we all gathered in her kitchen for tea and coffee before going on a tour of the property. There really weren't any "no's" - just don't go onto the neighbouring property and watch out for a severe drop near a creek. It was a perfect day.
This is where I should stop and tell you that the reason we were stomping around in the woods was to create land based sculptures with natural or extra materials. Sometimes these are called earth works - think of Christo or Robert Smithson. The property afforded lots of material, such as rocks, water, grass, hay, trees, and dirt. I came prepared with grubby clothes, garden tools and rubber boots. Some of the young folk had bare legs and really impractical clothing. City people! :D
I really didn't know where to start. It was a picture perfect day and so much potential! Mowed paths meandered all over the place, and I chose two trees on opposite sides of a path to get started with. I tried wrapping string around the trees, then thought about braiding string...ugh! I thought about weaving...frig, the morning was getting away from me.
I was covering for two people at work during this time, so I wasn't feeling very creative at all. Finally, after a couple of false starts, I just decided to just gather as much straw as I could. It was time consuming because it was interspersed with quackgrass, and it was about 11:30 when I committed to the idea of making straw men/teepees something. There are rules to art that go like this - If it's not working out...make it big! Make it red! Make lots! Make it naked!
I opted for making lots and fashioned seven bundles to put on the path. Just as I had finished, the gentle rain that had been pitter pattering picked up, so I packed up and went back to the house. Fortunately I wasn't the first one there. Around 3pm we went around critiquing everyone's work. When we got to mine, all the bundles had fallen over - probably by the rain or maybe a deer barrelling through. They looked neat on the ground, but we stood them up again. Usually one needs to say something substantial for a crit, so I spoke about harvesting, and how barriers are often self made and poorly constructed.
I enjoyed the exercise so much that I want to do more projects like that. It was a really good opportunity to do something different that I might not do on my own - such is the benefit of art college!