Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Square 72: Small

Square 072

On Sunday afternoon Danny and I took in the Guelph Studio Tour. In a typical Bohemian apartment on Suffolk Street we encountered a new artist to the roster, Ellen Jewett. Her website is Creatures from El, and her sculptures feature a menagerie of creatures—dragons, phoenixes—or the more mundane—dogs and snails—transformed in clay by El's whimsy.

What caught my (and Danny's) eye the most were two "two dimensional" works, actually sculptures bursting out of their frames on the wall, depicting the forest floor. It looked like she had sawn off part of a rotting stump covered with an army of lichen, tongues of fern and spritely mushrooms. It was a miniature landscape utterly familiar to me.

In one of my earliest memories of Lake Fletcher, our friend and neighbour, Joyce, had given me a few of those little ceramic animals that used to come in packages of tea. She took me and Mom on a walk over the ridge to the darkest, moistest part of the forest where the ground is coated with rich moss. I collected some and brought it back to the cottage where Joyce gave me a dish in which I could arrange it and create a verdant home for the tiny sculptures.

To this day it is the tiniest plants and fungi that enchant me most. With my daughters' help I have created a moss garden in one shady corner of our cottage property. Lichens don't transplant so well, but ferns do nicely, and every summer a new host of mushrooms volunteers itself from the surrounding carpet of mouldering leaves.

The rippling lake is a grand lady of peace, and the sunsets are oh so breathtaking, but the most intricate vistas are the ones right at our feet. Look out so you don't trample biodiversity!

What are the small, powerful things most people overlook, but that engage your imagination?

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