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a backyard ritual sculpture burn (for Matthew Mark)

Theme by Caitlind Brown & Wayne Garrett

Tuesday, April 15

Every year, we host a fiery art tribute to our late, great friend & fellow artist Matthew Mark Bourree. Participating artists make sculptures out of wood or cardboard, and we burn them together in a communal ritual ringing in the Spring. Hearkening to primal relationships, GATHER BY FIRE was named for an artwork by Sarah Smalik & Matthew Mark, and speaks to the great and mystical magnetism of people towards light, heat, and each other.


Andrew Davidson
Audrey Lane Cockett
Clare Duckett
Daniel Barossa
Eric Heitmann
Hannah Doerksen & Palmer Olson
Jane Grace
Jennifer Bourree-Lebouthillier
Joanne & Jonathan MacDonald
Tiff Polancec
Wayne Garrett
Caitlind Brown

An accumulation of burnable sculptures and listening devices in the yard before GATHER BY FIRE.

Tiff Polancec kicked off the sculpture burn with a fast-burning self portrait made from bent and scorched wood.

Next on the fire was a cardboard Birthday cake by Eric Heitmann. The piece was part celebratory gesture for the artist’s 39th Birthday, part effigy for the last 3 not-so-great years.

Next, there was an attempt to burn the first of the giant matches Wayne Garrett made in collaboration with Audrey Lane Cockett – and their collected Christmas pine needles.

Clare Duckett burned her gradient pine-needle piece in a little blaze of hot, fast flame.

During the entire sculpture burn, Caitlind Brown & Wayne Garrett’s listening devices (from a previous art installation) were aimed at the flames. Friends snuck away at different moments to listen to the fire crackling.

Jane Grace channeled her rage into the fire, inviting everyone to submit regrets, sins, fears, and anger to burn away in the cleansing flames.

Photo by Joanne MacDonald

Joanne & Jonathan MacDonald built a sculpture from pruned branches. They invited fireside friends to write short notes to dead loved ones and “post” the notes inside the piece as it burned.

Hannah Doerksen & Palmer Olson shared a shrine to Matthew Mark Bourree. Built from a Matt’s collection of candles gifted to Hannah when he died, spread on top of a bench Matt built (with help from Hannah, and stored by Palmer), this artwork was not burned. It felt like lighting a candle for our friend far away.

Wayne Garrett make a stacked sculpture of carpentry offcuts (with a little help from Caitlind Brown). The flags were removed and the sculpture was burned in a rain of sparks.

Andrew Davidson burned the offering of a meme – fresh from the internet, straight to your campfire.

Caitlind Brown sacrificed a baby COVID offering, originally built in 2020 for a previous sculpture burn which had been cancelled by the pandemic. Clare Duckett helped burn it.

Daniel Barossa shared two wooden artworks, flex-fit and held together under pressure. The thin wood snapped as it burned, releasing the tension held inside it.

Caitlind Brown built a piece called Tender Vision, created from silicone hands, the bones of an old project, and her dead garden – cleared at the end of Winter in preparation for Spring. The piece was two-part: the dried plants were made to burn, but the device itself magnified firelight, using the flicker to animate a shadow diorama seen through an old television fresnel lens.

Audrey Lane Cockett burned their old Christmas tree, and a very dry two-year old wreath. It took a while to light, and then went up in a blaze of glory!

The final piece of the evening came from Jennifer Bourree-Lebouthillier – Matt’s sister. She wrote her brother a letter and folded it into a paper boat, offering it as a vessel to carry a message to her dear sibling, wherever he may be.

Thank you to all the friends and participants who came to the sculpture burn! So grateful for these beautiful pieces, and this time shared over a crackling fire.

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