Title: Pinecone Seed and Sky Shelter


Artist: E. J. Lightman   Exhibition year: 2004

...E.J. Lightman's Impossible Sites for Growth, an installation work mounted at The Tree Museum in the summer of 2007, sheds some light on our (mis)-understanding of a historic work like Spiral Jetty, the piece that set an early course for artists working directly with nature. Lightmans work addressed the issue at the heart of the Smithson dilemma and consequently encompasses issues relevant to any discussion of art that directly responds to the contexts of nature. Between two trees on a slope of land that leads down to a lake abutting The Tree Museum property, Lightman strung up two banners, back to back, each depicting a different photographic image of trees growing from rocky outcroppings of the Canadian Shield somewhere else on the site. Out here, in an admittedly reshaped version of the natural world, the view is overridden by, well, a view. Impossible Sites for Growth (which Lightman has stated was born of her fascination with trees that grew from the rocks, cracking open small fissures with their roots so they could somehow survive in a difficult place5) experientially displaces what we understand as being natural with what we recognize as decidedly artifactual: images of what it displaces, representations (photographs) of the thing, and not the thing (the natural world) itself.... Gil McElroy, "New of Difference" The Tree Museum (The Tree Museum). Sky Shelter made of industrial steel (40 feet long) is attached to and frames a part of the Pre -Cambrian shield. The use of industrial steel gives the work tensile strength and visual weight, creating a dialogue between the enormous dense rock and the steel, a balance between the natural and manmade. The steel, which appears to cut into the rock, functions as a shelter for the mosses, trees and flora growing on and around the rock. The massive rock that it frames, almost dwarfs the sculpture, reminding us of nature's awesome physical powers. Sky Shelter is about framing the moss and the rock, focusing our attention, a viewing room for nature. Pinecone Seed is a homage to nature, two elements, and one with its roots in the northern landscape, the other combining elements of the exotic south and the Canadian landscape. Two elements, created from found objects, pinecones, coral and a cardboard box, the castoffs of nature and urban life, given new meaning and life. The other is an altar like piece, comprised of coral, cardboard box and a pinecone, working together as a space that promotes constant growth and change. Like Sky Shelter, Pinecone Seed draws our attention to the tenacity of nature, and its endurance.

E. J. Lightman is an artist based in Toronto. E.J. Lightman is the founding member of The Tree Museum (1997) and co-curator and organizer of the site-specific outdoor installations at The Tree Museum, Gravenhurst, Ont.