Submitted. Former resident, Michelle Elrick, returns to Abbotsford this June with her new poetry project, marking the end of a tour that has taken her to Iceland, Scotland and Austria since launching in July 2012. She brings her new project Notes from the Fort: a poetic of inhabited space, a series of performance installations that couple the play-act of fort-building with poetic documentation of place to The Reach Gallery Museum Abbotsford at 32388 Veterans Way on June 6 at 7pm.
Elrick, 29, left Abbotsford for Winnipeg in 2007 where she completed a poetry collection titled To Speak (Muses’ Co., 2010). The following year she received the John Hirsch Award for Most Promising Manitoba Writer. Simply put, Elrick has been busy building forts in- and out-of-doors, in order to write a new type of poem that is both experience and experiment.
“It’s a way of approaching home,” says Elrick. “These playful structures carve out a small place that I can ‘live’ in for a few hours before packing up and moving on. It’s a caricature of the real-life event of moving from place to place, which is a resonant theme in my family.”
Hailing from a long line of emigrants, homesteaders and frontiers folk, Elrick has kept up the tradition by living in 16 different postal zones since 2001. With Notes from the Fort, she returns to a few of these places, as well as to her two ancestral homes of Rathven, Scotland and Salzburg, Austria, building forts along the way.
The project launched in July 2012 during a 5-week writing retreat in Reykjavík, Iceland. During this time, Elrick completed six handmade fort panels, some of which are the standard bed sheet style; others are more elaborate artistic renderings of her history, such as the “Tree Quilt,” which depicts the six generations of her Elrick lineage through a quilt of letterpress-printed squares of linen.
“Each panel is a visual representation of my personal home mythology. I aimed to reduce the essence of home to just a few basic themes then chose the materials and images that would best depict each theme,” says Elrick.
The forts themselves are visually stunning and have been well documented by Elrick on her ongoing “Placelog“.
The reading and exhibition Notes from the Fort: a poetic of inhabited space at The Reach Gallery Museum Abbotsford on June 6, 2013 at 7 pm will be a memorable home-coming for this young artist. It will be a chance for her to share new poetic documents of sites in and around Abbotsford, as well as the work generated during her recent time in Scotland and Austria.