→ Peruse the Letters Archives(Added 30 November 2007)
With the first frosts thirst would set in, and game birds could be lured by simple tricks- like leaving a mirror in an open field to suggest a pool of water. The short-sighted woodcock always came down to inspect it, whirring into the shooter’s range.
- Monsieur, Lawrence Durrell, 1974
With the first winter snow drifts here in Montreal, Leisure thoughts have turned to seasonal celebrations of the past few years; from our first Christmas “staff party” and gift exchange at the Ritz Carleton, to the “festive drop-in” featuring Tricia Middleton’s pink puff engulfed fir tree in Susannah’s (now former) apartment on Boucher, to last year’s Storming the Ice Palace that rang in the New Year at Gallery Articule’s new storefront space.
This season Leisure Projects is focused on holiday lure and allure alike, imagining branches low bough-ed with the weight of birds (picture playground equipment black with ravens à la Hitchcock in “The Birds” ). In this past year’s exhibition at Bishop’s University we considered birds as denizens of a space of fantasy- colourful, decorative, fetishized objects. As we explored our bird fascinations our Mothers helped out, sending by priority post bird ornaments of our youths- sassy red cardinals, jewel-eyed birds with plumed tails, and partridge feathered partridges.
Always on the lookout for the bizarre and beautiful convergence of nature and artifice, Leisure Projects can not help but take note of the annual festive custom that drags trees into pan-national parlors and living rooms. The addition of artificial feathered friends is both logical extension of this strange practice and oddity to the extreme. It comes of no surprise that Victorians décor took the fake bird/ fake tree connection to its ultimate incarnation, popularizing trees fashioned completely of feathers. (N.B. The first artificial Christmas trees were made of goose feathers by German artisans in the early 19th century.)
Leisure Projects is not the only one to be making connections between flying things and Christmas trees this year, Tate Modern Britain’s 2007 tree commission from artist Fiona Banner features 123 airplanes. Built from model kits, these planes represent the fighter planes currently in service around the world.
To read more about the Tate Modern commissioned Christmas trees visit the Tate Modern website at: www.tate.org.uk/britain/exhibitions/christmastree/2007banner.shtm
To see an example of a Victorian feather-tree visit the Féerie de Noël. La magie d’un décor 1870-1960 exhibition at the Musée de Joliette. For more information: www.musee.joliette.org/
To see decorative paper cardinals designed by Leisure Project’s Meredith Carruthers visit the St. Armand paper mill. Open by appointment: 3700, rue Saint-Patrick, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H4E 1A2. Tél : (514) 931-8338
The Birdwatching: Leisure and Landscape tour booklet is available through ABC Art books. ISBN 978-0-9780364-6-1 www.abcartbookscanada.com