Turning off the main road, deep green swaying leaves shade a Cape Code brilliant blue sky as I wind my way up the hill. At the top, Patrick Dougherty’s willow sculpture, A Passing Fancy distracts me as cars circle in search of parking. I am not the only one at Highfield Hall in Falmouth, Massachusetts (USA).
Cell phones held high, friends pose in front of the towering (50’ x 35’ x 17’/15.24 x 10.67 x 5.18m) installation in the garden just below the restored historic home. Children run in and out of the sculpture’s chambers as grandparents admire the intertwined willow boughs. The historic home and gardens buzz with people of all ages.
Entering the restored Victorian summer cottage, the fiber art exhibit, Unbound: Contemporary Rope Art and live acoustic music welcome the crowds. Curated by Marcia Young of FiberArtNow, twenty artists from across the United States showcase scale, materials and techniques.
Young was impressed by the range of approaches submitted for the juried exhibit and enjoyed assembling the selection.
Two and three dimensional work grace the walls, up stair cases and hang from the ceiling. In one instance, a magnifying glass accompanies Àgnes Herczeg’s “Hanging out to dry” so we can appreciate its detail.
Grace by Kris Clemons
An entire floor landing wall displays knots used on boats and ships, reminding visitors of the shipping and fishing heritage of Cape Cod coastline. In the crowded activity room, visitors watch English lace making while others make bracelets and lanyards of slip and box knots.
Trout by Al Canner
Al Canner mingles near his work, chatting and answering questions. Using the double half hitch knot, he creates dimensional wall hangings and sculptures supported simply by the knots and without internal support.
Detail from Jòh Ricci, End of my rope
In the next room, Dominique Ehrmann’s Time to Break Free invites you to discover. Young and old were attracted by the lighting and the layers of materials that jumped from the shadows. Symbolizing her artistic journey, the three dimensional work begins with a suspended quilt. A raven, antelope and fox travel with the heroine. Her metamorphosis incorporates steampunk iconography in wool, wood, steel and glass, embracing the full spectrum of materials in artistic expression.
“The choice of the exhibits was serendipitous, but the connections are clear,” Joanne Ingersoll, Curator of Programs and Exhibits. “We make deliberate effort to develop cross generational activities.”
Trefoil by Alex Buchanan
Whether observing or creating, every visitor feels the connections. The historic house and gardens radiate contemporary culture.
Unbound and Time to Break Free are on view through October 31, 2019. A Passing Fancy will welcome visitors for a couple of years. Entrance is free, although donations support programming and exhibit and are always welcome.