29 July 2011

So Long, Farewell!

It's true!  This will be the last post for The Gatekeeper's Lodge, but before committing this blog to online archive, I wanted to post documentation from the culminating project - an exhibition with Eyelevel Gallery in Halifax, called SURVIVAL/SALVATION.  This show was a great chance for me to exhibit the projects I worked on while planning the performance events and occupying the Gatekeeper's Lodge in Point Pleasant Park.

Gallery View 1

Gallery View 2
Chairs from Suburban Shelter with miniature forrest
Statements cut paper works
Statements, detail

Shipwreck, 10 handmade wooden boats

Terrariums based on species at Point Pleasant Park

Terrariums, second set

Detail of Terrariums #24 and #25

Detail of Terrarium #3
Terrarium Field Notes, citing species in Terrariums, Park Region where species can be found, and Latitude Longitude of species
One Week's Hydration, 21 Litres of Holy Well Water from Point Pleasant Park

Thank you so much for reading as this project has taken shape - the archive of this blog will remain in tact and accessible for as long as blogger is running.  A big thanks to the following people and organizations who have made my residency in Point Pleasant Park a successful venture and an amazing moment in my practice:

Point Pleasant Park staff
Point Pleasant Park advisory committee
HRM Open Projects
Jamie MacLellan
Siobhan Wiggins
Survival Systems Inc.
Nova Scotia Museum
Nova Scotia Archives and Records Management
Kim Morgan & 2011 studio class
Matthew Reichertz & 2011 studio class
Robert Zingone & 2011 studio class
Eyelevel Gallery
Michael McCormack
Sarah Burwash
The Khyber 
Christopher Bousquet
Mark Kasumovic
Anna Leonowens Gallery & staff
Sue Carter Flynn
The Coast
The Chronical Herald
CBC Radio

(and last but not least!) All participants who came out to join me in the park and who have visited the blog - may you keep a special place in your heart for Point Pleasant Park and its rich history.  If you have any questions regarding this residency, just leave a comment through the blog and I will reply as soon as possible.

All the best,

21 June 2011


I am very pleased to invite you to the opening of an exhibition of work related to the Gatekeeper's Lodge residency in Point Pleasant Park, titled SURVIVAL/SALVATION.  The show is taking place at Eyelevel Gallery in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and will run from June 21 to July 1, 2011.  The official opening celebration is this Friday, June 24 at 7:00 pm.

Eyelevel Gallery is located at 2159 Gottingen Street.

This exhibition will wrap up what has been for me an exceptional experience with the park over the last five months; getting to know the park's history, its people and the city of Halifax just a little bit more has made me a more aware citizen of the HRM.  The show is a chance to show the works that have been developed while I've been in the Lodge and will include (among other things) terrariums based on species thriving in the park, drawings, small sculpture and video works .  I hope you can make it!

Also - coming up this weekend there is a fantastic performance series taking place at Point Pleasant Park, please see the poster below for more information about who is participating or visit the Eyelevel Gallery website (linked above) for more information.  I know I'm hanging out at the park this weekend to check out these projects - rain or shine!

02 June 2011

two for tea and tea for two

As a thunder and lightning storm brews here in Halifax, I wanted to share images from the Suburban Shelter project before heading out of town for a week.  A wonderful group of folks showed up to participate, planned and unplanned alike.  

The 1/2 acre lot this project was based upon was first plotted with flagging tape, using GPS wayfinding points and two semi-transparent maps, one historical and one contemporary, overlaying one another as seen below.

Once the flagging was complete, a shelter was constructed within the boundaries of the land plot.  The shelter was visible from Birch Road, one of the main gravel paths in the park and was sewn and adapted from an existing tent-pole skeleton and mosquito netting, along with some of the project's signature blaze orange.

As visitors and Park goers discovered the shelter, they were invited to have a seat in the shelter on one of the reupholstered blaze orange chairs.

Once settled, guests were offered a cup of tea prepared to their liking, a tea biscuit or macaroon, and a card of printed information as a keepsake of the experience (which was adapted from a survival guide chapter about building shelters in the wild).

The shelter was a terrific way to celebrate the close of the public component of my residency at Point Pleasant Park - which has been a true gift.  While only documentation from Saturday's event is featured in this post, I want to extend sincere thanks to everyone who made an effort to find the shelter this past weekend.  Also a big thanks to the Coast for featuring the project in their Thursday edition. 

This week has been particularly celebratory as my public projects at the park come to an close, Visual Arts News has published an artist profile about my project in Point Pleasant.  If you are a luddite, like I can be, I hope you pick up a printed copy of the magazine.  If you are savvy with your technology - please visit their site, linked above.

I will continue to post during the month of June as I am preparing for a week-long exhibition of my work related to the residency with Eyelevel Gallery in Halifax, opening June 21 to the public, with an official opening on Friday, June 24, and running until July 1.  Stay tuned!

27 May 2011

to the shelter!

If you are looking for directions to the SUBURBAN SHELTER project, you've come to the right place!  I will be stationed in Point Pleasant Park, this Saturday and Sunday, May 28 and 29th, from 2:00 - 5:00 pm in my shelter, constructed on what was designated as a private land plot in the 1700's.

The map above is your clue to finding the shelter - if you travel along Birch Road you will be able to spot me in the woods without too much trouble - have a close look at the square of satellite image in the map above.  The white dot within the blue outline above is the exact location of the shelter site.  Keep your eyes peeled for fluorescent orange flagging tape which will be used to mark the boundaries of the 1/2 acre lot.

If you have a handheld GPS unit or are a keen google mapper, my exact shelter location (in latitude/longitude measurement) is N 44° 37.597,  W 63° 34.067.  For those curious as to how I have established these boundaries accurately and in conjunction with a hand-drawn map, I will be writing a 'GPS in Point Pleasant: behind the scenes' post as to how this project was conceived and executed using satellite technology and digital inputs of latitude/longitude points and path tracking programs.  The two images below are a sneak peak at the path traces from the GPS unit I have been working with.  The red line shows where I travelled from (Gatekeeper's Lodge on the left) to establish the boundaries of the historic 1/2 acre land plot.

GPS path track 

GPS path track in Google Maps

While you are waiting with bated breath for the GPS post and documentation from the SUBURBAN SHELTER project, if you fancy a walk out in the park I would love to have some guests Saturday or Sunday afternoon.

Hope to see you in the park! 

25 May 2011

gimme shelter

The first three tenets of survival are the procurement of:
2. FOOD and 

While water and food are pretty straight forward - shelter can be many things to many people, including the Rolling Stones.  Point Pleasant Park's history is primarily shared between Mi'kmaq, Scottish, British, and French settlers, all who have occupied the park in varying ways.  To establish their presence in the area once known as Sandwich Point to early settlers, different kinds of shelters were set up according to each group's cultural needs, norms and preferences within what we now know as Point Pleasant.

One structure built for shelter by Mi'kmaq people are wigwams, written wikuom in the Mi'kmaq language.  Wigwams can have several types of architecture, but three most prevalent are the conical, v-shape, and domed.  These structures are so resilient to weather (including wind, rain, sleet, and snow) that survival guides recommend making similar structures in an emergency (as above).

Stereograph card of North American Wigwam, circa 1880

Traditionally built from flexible branches for a domed structure (such as willow or evergreen saplings), a domed framework would be established by driving the 'poles' into the ground.  The frame would then be lashed together using soaked roots or leather as tethering material.  In the case of a conical or v-shape frame, larger sturdy branches were employed, as seen below.

Recreation of v-shape wigwam, style estimated to be in use circa 1400

Once the domed structure was stable, sides and roofing would be laid using sheets of bark, overlapped rushes or grasses and interwoven reeds.  Trappers and Voyageurs were so impressed by the portability and versatility of material that wigwams and tipis could be constructed with that many European traders abandoned canvas tenting which was heavy to portage and easily water-logged.  I was a camp counsellor in Kananaskis Alberta, and often made lean-tos from brush and support branches with my campers; those who chose to spend the night in nylon tents often woke up damp from moisture that had crept in, while the folks who slept in the lean-to would be dry as a bone in the morning.

Conical wigwams near Chester, Nova Scotia, circa 1920

It is important to note that wigwams differ from tipis and wikiups, among other structures developed by first nations who held varying degrees of nomadic lifestyles.  Mary Rowlandson, a colonial American woman born in England, used the term wigwam in her captivity account of King Philip's War in 1675, to describe First Nations dwellings.  The term has remained in common use within English language archives and libraries to present date, despite differences in structure and use of unique dwellings to each nation. 

Intaglio print by Edward Hicks, circa 1780

Among the first settlers of Halifax there were only a few millwrights and bricklayers compared to the legions of mariners and soldiers.  As Point Pleasant was deemed too windy and rocky to establish a settlement upon, the Point was established as a military stronghold and lookout when fears of a French invasion of Halifax grew in the early 1760's.  The intaglio print above, by Lieutenant Colonel Edward Hicks, depicts a scene from Point Pleasant looking North (citadel hill is the high point in the distance) through a military camp.  Given the details of the print, we can deduce that the shelters for the encampment appear to be made of wood or clapboard, and have established roofing and windows.  Troops at this time in history would have slept and ate in a type of tent called a  wedge, a simple tripod tent made from canvas or cotton duck.

British Military Tent, 18th century

Peeking through the trees below, we can see the first large earthwork fortification in Point Pleasant Park - Fort Ogilvie.  While hasty batteries had been constructed at either side of the Northwest arm, initially to hold cannons within shot of the harbour mouth and later to stretch chain across the arm in an effort to strangle ships that might attempt to enter the waterway, Fort Ogilvie was an engineering feat and a shelter faced with sod and six 24-pounder cannons.  The shelter held a guardhouse and a dedicated furnace for heating shot used in cannons and rifles.  All photos below are from Nova Scotia Archives and Records Management.

Fort Ogilvie interior, 1879, canon shells in the foreground

Fort Ogilvie exterior, 1879

Fort Ogilvie exterior, 1879
Earthwork shelters were often constructed in areas where raw material for large buildings was not abundant.  Piles of soil would be strategically massed into hills and then shaped into fortifications, to be reinforced with stone and brickwork as it became available through quarrying and brick kilnwork.  My two favourite parts of these photos documenting the fort exterior are the dark woolen military great-coats (big enough to be a shelter of their own!) and the measuring sticks to prove just how tall the fortification was.

If you visit Point Pleasant Park today, Fort Ogilvie is not open to the public as it is under Fortification Stabilization, in order to preserve the site and its structures.  I am working on the final preparations for my Suburban Shelter project this coming weekend - I will be posting again with specific details on how to find the shelter I will be occupying within the park from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm both Saturday May 28 and Sunday May 29.  If you are able to locate my shelter in the park and its petite domestic setting (don't worry - it's pretty hard to miss the emergency orange) your reward will be a hot cup of traditional English tea, served by yours truly!