La Ligne du Nord
La Ligne du Nord: Sud-Oest/The Line of the North: South-West includes three sites beginning with a site line that follows a stand of pine trees heading north, then turns south-west across a field to a passage way through another stand of pine, to a lake path which brings the viewer to the final site on the west side of the lake.
I spent the first two days hiking around the 1500 acre site and kept being drawn back to the stand of pine trees that line the main driveway, and entrance to St Bernard, creating a border between the forest and fields. Standing at this first site I was struck by the sound the wind made as it crossed the tops of the trees – much like an Aeolian harp – I wanted to bring viewers to this place to hear the music of the wind and trees.
This first site is 180 paces in length and holds 60 pine trees. A circle of birch bark was installed on each tree. From a distance, these birch bands create a line that accentuates and follows the lay of the land, while inviting viewers to the site.
I chose to use birch bark, not only because it was fairly abundant, but also for its magical meaning of rebirth and new beginnings – with the circle symbolizing the cycle/circle of life.
The birch bark was collected, over four days, from trees that had been cut down on the west side of the lake and left on the forest floor. As I was removing bark from these downed trees I was stuck by the thought that my ancestors in Finland had also gathered bark from birch trees, using it to make musical instruments, baskets, dishes, shoes and more.
The bark was then dried in the studio for two days, cut and pieced with heavy cotton thread to fit the diameter of each tree. The pieces were then soaked in water, to soften them, before being installed. Windfall sticks were collected, sharpened on one end, and used to pierce and hold the bark together around each tree. Eventually the birch bark bands will fall off, returning to the earth.