Ark/ive Virtual Residency (2021 | MacLaren Art Centre, Barrie, Ontario)
“Don’t Panic. It’s the first helpful or intelligible thing anybody’s said to me all day.” ~ Arther Dent (“The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams)
FROM THE MACLAREN:
Throughout Barkhouse’s digital residency, she meticulously documented the wildlife that she encountered while scouting the site, the process of making the artwork, and installed a trail cam to capture the quiet interactions between wildlife and installation.
View Ark/ive Online Exhibition
FROM MARY ANNE:
Ark/ive had its genesis in the early days of the pandemic … news of super-spreader events highlighted the risks of traditional gathering places. Almost overnight, venues that used to offer social, cultural and gastronomic sustenance instead morphed into locations of risk. Markets, night clubs, sporting arenas, concerts halls and churches sat empty as the global population held its collective breath …
Breath. The source of life. The source of contagion.
I am fortunate that I live in a rural area, well forested and teeming with wetlands and wildlife. I turned my time of isolation into a time of investigation. I have lived in this ecosystem for around 20 years, walking the trails through all four seasons, rain and shine (because the dog dictates that it must be so) …. noticing the resident birds versus the migratory visitors. Which trees tend to leaf out first … which ones lose their leaves last. Marvelling at how cold it can still be when the spring peepers start their yearly chorus.
But how well do I really know this slice of land? Can I ever truly know it, in all its complexity?
Ark/ive is my endeavour to look more closely at my non-human neighbours in this environmental community. I photograph and research the flora and fauna as they present themselves in my path, adding to my existing knowledge of who lives here, how and why.
And the pew in the forest? While I was raised within an Anglican tradition I later gravitated to the gospel according to Johnny Rotten (cue intro to Public Image’s Religion … a grinding howling indictment of all that can go wrong when faith takes an ugly turn …). Regardless of one’s belief system, a pew still provides a splendid perch for contemplation. Especially when the hallowed halls are replaced by a mixture of coniferous and deciduous trees. In times of pandemic such as these, an infinitely safer place to be.
Arbor vitae indeed.
BELOW: Screen capture of Ark/ive Virtual Residency online exhibition. View interactive site here.