Sunday, June 28, 2009
Cory Ericson's garden
This cairn is a work-in-progress by Cory Ericson, who lives in Wendell, MA, up toward the New Hampshire border in high deep woods above the Connecticut River Valley. This last week Cory invited us to come out and see his place, after we admired this tower he's building in our friend Dara Wier's front yard out of flagstone and pieces of quartz he pulls out of the woods. There's a light inside, powered by a solar panel, and at night the quartz will glow with a soft, stone-filtered light.
The first thing I thought about at Cory's house and garden was his love for his materials, all found things, especially stones of great character and individuality. He has a profound connection to the mineral world, as Auden did, and he finds garnets, black tourmaline crystals, mica, beryl, schist. Those outbreaks of crystals seem like the thoughts of stones somehow, like outbreaks of energy. He also likes gnarled branches, old bottles, and pieces of metal from the ubiquitous old woodland dumps. He has a heap of rusty iron templates used to make shoes in many sizes; once this pile of scrap stamped out soles and heels, tongues and side-panels. Something strangely elegaic about that pile -- all that old metal meant to makes shelters for human feet.
In the garden Cory's stone walls rise to regular peaks, reminiscent of that famous French house the Surrealists loved by the Postman Chevalier, and more cairns with lights inside. He works unexpected transformations on trees: there are slim maples lashed together into arches, of various sizes. On some trees the slender branches are woven horizontally, sometimes making an arc from one tree to the next. The most amazing of these works is a solitary apple tree whose branches have all been woven horizontally and back in toward the trunk, making the tree into a kind of big complex upswept basket with leaves. It's gnarly and beautiful, and might be something from the garden of a baroque Italian villa.
All Cory's work has a meditative quality about it, the natural and the discarded shaped into objects that are painstakingly assembled, more than a little obsessive, probably impermanent, memorable things with a little loneliness and ache about them, but also with an exuberant flourish, like those crystals in their plain rocks.