Walking the forest at Boreal Art & Nature, I observed its beautiful condition and realized it did not need my assistance. To look deeper, or more widely, we arranged to meet with a ranger at a nearby wildlife reserve to ask about the largest problems facing wildlife in this part of Quebec. He said the biggest problem was money, often in the form of destruction of habitat for short-term financial gain. His primary example was the timber industry. To our surprise, he said that even the local landmark Mount Bondy, within the reserve, was scheduled to have 30% of the timber cut. Other people had already told me logging was a local concern, an issue between preservation and economy.

The information from the interview set off a local protest and an ongoing effort to stop the cutting of this section of the Rouge River valley’s “patrimony”, with meetings, petitions, and letters to ministers. In the meantime, I realized I wanted to create an artwork about destruction by logging the boreal forests and the loss of habitat for the species who share the place.

I wanted to find a “cut” area and use the leftover waste material to bring the place back into use for other species. This was not easy in our forest because Luc manages the forest with great care, cutting only in sustainable and selective ways. I found one place where he had been thinning out poplar and some small fir to make room for the larger spruce. There were stumps, piles of cut logs, and slash piles of smaller branches. I used materials mainly from the site and some from Luc’s sawmill and fallen debris in the rest of the forest to create:

  1. A Bower for Bears to Dream the World – a shelter for sleeping bears based on an ancient story that bears dream into being all the events of the coming year; disaster comes when they neglect to dream all that is needed.
  2. Squirrel Pile which will shelter squirrels and many small creatures—birds, mice, butterflies and others.
  3. Marten Havens for winter denning for the American (Pine) Marten and other small mammals, with a diagonal propped pole to make an access tunnel under snow.
  4. Toad Hole – a small underground shelter for toads.
  5. TreeRestoration – three trees rebuilt from the waste materials of other dead trees.
  6. Bird houses, since in a secondary growth forest there are few large dead trees for cavity nesting birds.

It came to me that the piece could be expanded into the rest of the forest as The Mystery, the Evidence, and the Small Atonements. The mystery one senses on entering the forest environment is partly the feeling that it is a place not dominated by human activity, that other lives are in process. The evidence of those lives is pointed out by small twig frames around places where we can observe traces of those lives, and a few places where I consistently encountered other species. By a rock wall along the trail a wren sang most mornings; at my site a squirrel came through  several times with her mouth full of nesting material; as I worked I learned the sound of termites chewing logs. The small atonements are the sculptures which contribute to habitat disturbed or destroyed by timber harvesting. Evidence frames are concentrated near the beginning of the trail, at my atonement site and around the beaver lake, with a few others scattered along the trail.

Sharing The Birds Of Quebec
During my time at Boreal I have been observing birds and trying to identify them, and asking local residents about some of the birds here during other seasons. This research is part of another project, Migration Mileposts, in which I am creating markers to link communities which share migratory birds, tracing some species journeys on migration. It is difficult to get data on small songbirds, and I found the records of the Canadian Atlas Of Bird Banding and its website to be invaluable. Some of the species observed, their possible range and the documented travels are listed below.

Reconstructed Tree – Art/Nature Boreal, Quebec, Canada, 2002. Photo: Lynne Hull

The Mystery, the Evidence, and the Small Atonements

Lynne Hull

The Bower for Bears to Dream the World – Art/Nature Boreal, Quebec, Canada, 2002. Photo: Lynne Hull.
Migration Mileposts




Chimney Swift

To S. Colombia

Memphis, TN/Ochlocknee, GA


To Mexico, Colombia, West Indies

Delaware Bay, NJ

Philadelphia Vireo

To Panama


Barn Swallow

To South America

Lassets Island, MA; Island Beach, NJ

Eastern Bluebird

Central America, Cuba

NY, GA; Lake City, FL

Cedar Waxwing

To Panama, Antilles

AL, FL, OR, Guatemala

Nashville Warbler

Mexico, Guatemala, Belize

Muskegon, MI

Magnolia Warbler

Mexico, Panama, Cuba

NJ, Honduras

Black & White Warbler

TX, FL, Mexico

VT, NJ; Punta Gorda, Belize

Pine Siskin

to Mexico


Chipping Sparrow

Southern Mexico

Island Beach, NJ; SC, FL

Song Sparrow

Southern US


American Goldfinch

Mexico, FL


White Throated Sparrow

Southern US


Common Redpoll

Into Arctic

NJ, SD, Alaska

Evening Grosbeak

Southern US, FL


Rose Breasted Grosbeak

Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru


Great Crested Flycatcher

South FL, Mexico, Central America, Colombia, Venezuela


Eastern Phoebe

FL, to Veracruz & Oaxaca, Mexico


Les Arques artist residency
In an ancient village in France, Hull created several artworks expanding on the local historical tradition of building elaborate towers for wild pigeons to live in. When Hull examined the ancient tower at the artist residency complex, she discovered not only pigeon fertilizer but evidence of barn owl occupation. The owls had no good nesting site so an installation for owls was added to the top of the tower. The idea was expanded into other trans-species exchanges. A theoretical background was developed, and four species exchange experiments were carried out while another remains in proposal form. Most striking was a ladder cut from a single tree, its rungs cut from smaller branches, placed up the outside of the ancient tower. At the lower end it is human scale, with rungs about 12 inches across, but by the top it is bird scale, and eventually becomes the uncut tree with tiny branches for birds to perch on. Another exchange was based on adding sculptures to a local wetland restoration, and having the frogs singing in the wetland give a concert at the village of Les Arques

Installation in the Tower – Les Arques, France, 2003

Léchelle entre La Dame Blanche et L'Homme – Les Arques, France. 2003. Photo: image-world

Lynne Hull is a “trans-species” artist, creating ecologically based sculpture and installations which are useful to wildlife, are created as part of wildlife habitat restoration, and expand human awareness of the needs of wildlife.

These recent projects in France and Quebec, as well as her current work with migratory birds, are featured on her revised and updated website at www.eco-art.org.

Appendix: Species exchange details

Principles for the Trans-species Cultural Exchange at Les Arques, France, April 2003 

  1. Species share the same needs: Food, water, shelter and safe places to live and reproduce
  2. We humans are part of the biological ecosystem and we participate in it. Often we are not thinking about what we receive in ecosystem services: air cleaning, carbon-oxygen exchange, water cleaning, food, waste recycling for organic products, solar heat, the solar source of all energy, and the specific services given by forests, meadows, wetlands and rivers.
  3. These services demand a return exchange to remain in ecological and ethical balance
  4. All exchanges not physical/biological can be considered cultural.

Species Exchanges at Les Arques artist residency

  1. Pigionnier: Ancient tradition of les Pigionniers, when people provided food, shelter and safety for wild pigeons in exchange for meat and crop fertilizer.
    Experiment: Gathering aged pigeon guano from the tower of the Presbytere, mixing it with soil and planting a tomato plant. Tomatoes will be offered to the villagers if plant produces.
  2. La Dame Blanche: Looking into the Presbytere tower and finding pellets from the barn owl, full of bones of small rodents the owl is catching for the village.
    Experiment: Installing nesting boxes and roosts in the tower, a secret art installation, a dialog between myself and the owl.  Installing a ladder on the outside of the tower, a metaphor for the meeting between the species. From the bottom the ladder could be ascended by humans. but at the top the other species must descend. The meeting is difficult.
  3. Birds and Butterflies on the Land: birds and butterflies offer beauty and song, pollinate plants, and act as indicators of the environmental health of the site.
    Experiment: In exchange give plants, shelter and water. Encourage others to do the same on their land by putting a list of appropriate butterfly attracting plants and seed packet in the project catalog.
  4. The Marais: The history of the Marais (wetland) of the Masse River includes human use of the plants that grow there—carex and reeds. These plants were used for domestic animal bedding and for creating the woven seats of chairs and other furniture. Through the years this wetland had been drained for agricultural fields. The Marais restoration project along the Masse brings a return of important ecosystem services. A wetland, or zone humide, is an area where the water usually hidden underground is instead right at the surface of the land, saturating that piece of land. Certain plants grow there with the water, plants which slow the drainage and trap silt. The vegetation provides shelter and food for a biological life web. In addition to sheltering these animals, the wetland prevents flooding by offering a lot of water storage, dissipating energy and slowing down the water flow, and can be a water source in time of drought. Many of the plants filter pollutants such as sewage by absorbing the phosphorous and nitrogen. The Marais also provides an interesting place for humans to visit and learn about how nature works. Frogs, birds and dragonflies add to the site, and artisans are again allowed to gather carex and reeds for weaving and basketry.
    Experiment: An exchange visit. People may visit the marais to enjoy the new boardwalk and sculptures: an arch announces the entry and “Ici Vivent les granoiulles”. Stone and branch sculptures offer shelter to small animals running to hide from visiting humans. Bird houses mitigate for trees cut to encourage the wetland, a floating island in a small pool gives frogs a place to sing and attract mates and for dragonflies to metamorphosize into adult form. For the Marais to visit the village, a sample of the water, soil and plants will come for the vernissage, and a video will bring the frog concert to the village of Les Arques.
  5. Proposal for restoration with beaver: The wetland restoration has been accomplished with human engineering and effort, at the expense of the taxpayers of the communite des communes.
    Proposed Experiment: re-introducing beaver, who would cut small trees, dam up points where water drains prematurely back into the river, help mitigate the channelization of the Masse through this section, create pools and eventually a meandering river. Most of these are the same acts and goals as restoration by the humans, and the beaver work for the cost of the trees, which were cut anyway. Open a dialog between the humans and the beaver. Artworks can assist selectivity of which trees will be available for beaver removal.

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