Beneath the Surface 2022
"The Beneath the Surface residency, is a partnership between Craft NB and Parks Canada. It takes place in Fundy National Park from Oct 3rd to Oct 7th, 2022. We award 20 Craft NB members the opportunity to explore new perspectives in craft-making while experiencing New Brunswick’s rich natural environment with the goal of enlivening their individual studio practices.
During this 5-day residency, scientists, park interpreters and creative leaders will interact with the artists to educate and inspire cross-pollination of ideas. Artists are also encouraged to spend time alone breathing in and pondering the nature that surrounds them."
In 2022 I had a pleasure to join this wonderful journey through the woods with 19 other artists. The result was surprising even for myself, as I dared to dive deeper into a new media and new dimensions.
I never worked with wood before on such a scale, but I was able to build a bridge! I never tried to use felted pieces outdoors, but I did and they all survived through the summer, and still look good, although getting a little bit greener. I found it fascinating and very natural.
My project started as a tribute to the monarch butterflies. Did you know, that if you will see a butterfly chrysalis hanging in a busy place, where it can get damaged, you can safely remove it and place somewhere safer? That is how you can save the world - one butterfly at a time. It might be not a big change from your perspective, but from the perspective of this beautiful creature - the difference is huge.
I started with the idea of a bridge - as a metaphor of connection. I combined two components - man-made structure and natural-shaped cocoons, suspended from it. Humans can do so much to help nature to grow and flourish. I presented my own point of view, where both parties can benefit form each other. People can protect trees, animals, birds, while nature can keep on supporting us as humans with its resources.
The structure I used is called "Da Vinci bridge". It is a type of reciprocating (self-supporting) structure, where every element relies on the other, just like in real life. The concept was taken from the Leonardo Da Vinci sketchbooks and have been used in building bridges and various structure ever since. After building a bunch of prototypes on a small scale, I figured out the proper measurements. With 30 2x2 wooden sticks, that are 48" long I was able to build a bridge 14' long and 6' high. The whole set weight around 30 kg, but it was so neatly designed, that one person was able to erect the bridge single-handedly without other props in an hour. The wooden bars were painted with mineral paint, that has no odor and quite durable.
In my mind, the cocoons under the bridge should have solar lights inside, so the whole piece produced gentle, almost fairy-tale light at night. But the park guides worried about the night creatures being discouraged with an artificial light, so I skipped this idea.
I created 7 cocoons from white merino wool and they were soft, but strong enough to withstand rain, snow and wind. Wool is a wonderful natural material that can serve as birds' nests padding, when they will start falling apart.
After a 5 months season in Fundy National Park, my Red Bridge was moved to my friends' garden and I am happy to see it changing with time.