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The Backroad Commons

For the Series "Fencelines" 3 rulal artists, Ruben Irons, Fenn Martin and Raina Mc Donald came together to contemplate the idea of Fencelines....


Fences parcel and weave together rural lives and landscapes. They keep livestock and crops apart and safe, and neighbours neighbourly. Expressing ownership and control, they partition inside from outside, yours from mine, permissible from forbidden. Gates are a necessary feature of fence lines, maintaining borders, yet tempting transgression. Given the current global climate of fear and separation, this fence and gate with imagery reflecting on rural outmigration and the collapse of small farms, is an elegy and challenge to re-imagine rural life in Nova Scotia. Fencelines also invites the audience to cross the threshold of ones own intimate boundaries.
In Fencelines, we propose the common cow as our mythological gatekeeper. This gentle giant, once prominent in farmyards, is becoming invisible due to industrial factory farming and international trade agreements. We see her more in nostalgic popular culture, such as children’s books, than as part of a local ecology and economy. As three collaborating artists, we each explore these themes in our own practice.


Raina Mc Donald and Fenn Martin.


The word “attachment” is popularly defined as an object, a relationship, and a process. It can refer to a device attached to a machine or implement, the physical connection by which one thing is attached to, and the process of physically attaching. These concepts are investigated in Attachment, a multi-media collaboration from ceramic sculptor Fenn Martin and interdisciplinary artist Raina McDonald. Martin and McDonald forge a new rural aesthetic by attaching metal and clay, found farm implements and contemporary motifs.


In this collection of low relief work, juicy ceramic glazed tiles are combined with hand forged steel and worn found objects from Nova Scotia farms.  Situated within transforming rural landscapes, Attachment looks to these old found objects as artifacts that form the heart of ceramic and metal assemblages. Mower parts, hinge brackets and various antique hand tools become source material for pattern, connection and form as Martin and McDonald explore the past lives and possible narratives of these lost objects. McDonald and Martin commemorate these fragments of the past, now so distant from their original use and worn with rust and time, at the same time that they re-activate them in a new context.


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