Orin’s Sugarcamp

Patterson Webster
Orin’s Sugarcamp   2015–2018
Corrugated tin, pine, granite, slate, stone, metal cans and scraps

This site-responsive installation commemorates the physical work performed on the land as well as the workers themselves. The title honours Orin Gardner, a farmer who worked on the land for many years, making maple syrup each spring. Using artifacts of that time—a mossy stone wall, a boiling table, cans and pipes—the artist reveals the persistence of the past in the present. A sheet of tattered tin, shaped in an inverted V and suspended in mid-air, evokes the roof of a typical Quebec sugar shack, creating a ghostly impression of the building that once stood on the site.

Centred under the roof, the boiling pan is elevated like an altar, a transformation suggested by the inscription on the site’s granite-slab threshold: “The gods are seen to exist on account of the existence of their altars.” This quotation from the Greek Stoic philosopher Chrysippus recalls the artist’s background in philosophy and connects this work to preceding pieces in Timelines.

To acknowledge Orin Gardner’s Christina faith, the artist suspended an old pine board over the trail, bracketing the name of the installation with two christograms, symbols created by combining the Greek letters iota (I) and eta (H), the first two letters of “Jesus.”

Around the site, sixty oversized tin maple leaves suspended from evergreen trees are reminders of the maple trees that once dominated this part of the forest. The leaves, which vary from 2 to 4 feet in size, twist and turn in the breeze, their musical notes recalling the sound of the bells on the harnesses of the horses Orin drove.