THE SPIRIT TRAIL
Winter wind storms cause havoc in forested areas that walkers and hikers rarely see and the windfall silently and slowly decomposes to feed the soil and nurture new growth. The Spirit trail in Harrison Hot Springs, over the years has been subject to a number of significant winds and the trail, guarded by the spirits, was becoming hazardous. Tourism Harrison saw the potential to save this trail, that is so well loved by visitors and residents alike. So they hired Scott Tree Care Service to come in and assist in the project by determining which trees were potential problems and taking down any that would pose a hazard, leaving them in the forest to decompose. Some local groups then volunteered to come in and clean up the trail, clearing any little branches and raking the pathways.
Ernie Eaves became involved in the ceramic arts soon after his retirement as a high school shop and theatre teacher four years ago. He has a small studio in his garage in which he throws pots (sometimes against the wall), sculpts and tries to figure out how to glaze stuff.
The Artists story
The Spirit Trail began as a walk in the woods with Pearl the Wonder-Dog. We discovered a seemingly abandoned trail that meanders through a wonderfully mysterious bit of old second growth forest in which the processes of renewal are seen everywhere. In the spring and early summer, the false Lily-of-the-valley covers the forest floor in shiny green and year by year the moss envelopes the wind-fallen trees, seemingly giving them a second life.
It is an enchanting place to walk, and as time passed the trees seemed to me to be alive in an other-worldly sort of way. As a lark, I created a dozen ceramic faces and surreptitiously hung them in the trees, hoping to cause a laugh or two among other walkers who might discover the trail. The compulsion was on me and the dozen eventually became over thirty.
At the turn around point of the trail, there is a circle of trees, a sort of committee of spirits. I made a dozen ceramic faces of women from different places and circumstances and I call them the “Goddesses”. They are meant to evoke the quiet but monumental strength of women from all over the world. Most have their eyes closed to impart a quiet, meditative feeling to the spot. The whole endeavor grew of it’s own accord, without a plan or even a particular goal in mind. The first masks were put in the trees over six years ago, and apart from knowledge of its whereabouts by the Geo-caching community (People who use GPS units to find stuff) and a brief mention in British Columbia Magazine, little effort has been made to publicize their existence. Instead, it has been a kind of “Guerrilla art”, meant to be a surprise and mildly subversive.