Within the BARRENS workshops we focused on activating our community through creativity and innovation, to develop our sense of identity and to document our history. We visited the blacksmith and sound sculptor John Little’s studio, collaborated in sonic explorations of percussion and sound waves and together forged a dragon sound sculpture in his blacksmith shop. We visited project partner The Centre for Art Tapes to learn about this artist run media centre to participate in a sound mixing workshop with Lukas Pearse and learned to edit our Shorelines video material with Ariella Pahlke.
We went for a walk on the High Head barrens and had a picnic with historian Emily Burton and medical ethicist and amateur plant connoisseur Lynette Reid. Catherine Martin, Mi’kmaq drummer and documentary filmmaker, spoke about the history and culture of the Mi’kmaq people in the area, sang and played the drum. Emily Burton gave a short presentation on how people’s livelihoods and recreation were tied to the land in the early 1900’s. We learned about indigenous plants, how local people used them and followed a scavenger hunt to identify local landmarks including old baseball fields, stone fences, Irish moss and more.
Our art activity involved actively listening to our environment and recording natural and created sounds from found materials. By listening and learning about the human and natural environment we focused on how the rich culture in our communities has an intimate relationship with the landscape of the barrens.
We visited John Little’s studio to learn about John’s sound sculptures with a demonstration on how they are forged in his blacksmith shop. Young and were invited to work alongside John as he pulled the yellow iron from the coal fire to hammer and forge it into a new form. Together we created an iron dragon with twisting swirling form that when struck creates resonating sounds. Visitors were also introduced to the photos of George Ling in a book featuring luminescent images based upon experimental metal shapes from John’s studio. Participants were encouraged to take their own abstract photos of the metal shapes in the studio.
Oral historian Emily Burton spoke about her research on the families, cultural and customs of the people who lived in and around the barrens in Prospect. She shared her paper, Oral History Project, A Prospect Childhood. It contains research, maps, photos and oral history she gathered from interviewing long time residents who grew up in Prospect in the 1930’s-1950’s. We created collages, drawings and paintings on artist trading cards. Participants spoke about their own memories of living in the area and family members who were long time residents.
Sound and Music Improvisation Workshop with John Sotirakos
On Monday May 25th John Sotirakos from Mansion on the Hill Music Studios in Brookside facilitated a sound and music improvisation workshop.
Together with Lukas Pearse we worked in the sound studio at the Centre for Arts Tapes to learn to use a soundboard and created a soundscape of animals, water, storytelling and history recorded on our barrens walk. Ariella Pahlke led a workshop in video editing and we toured the studio visiting the green screen room.
Ariella Pahlke & Melinda Spooner