Maurice Ferland's extraordinary sculpture garden
By Manfried H. Starhemberg
There are acres and acres of the most beautifully groomed grounds, dozens of superb things, which I called sculptures but which Maurice Ferland, their creator, calls "installations".
"I am not a sculptor", explains Maurice,"A sculptor works with wood or stone or bronze and clay to create original pieces. I just assemble things I find and try to set them in a harmonious and pleasing patter,n which will make a garden or a large room be anhanced by my work:.
A humble statement from a man who has been on the forefront of the Montreal and Toronto fashion idsustry as a designer of high fashion, with his own stores and studios in both cities. After retiring, he even started a high class boutique of kitchen gadgets in Sutton which he later sold and which is still thriving.
"I wanted to do something completely different, put my hands to work in creating things more permanent than textiles or disposables:". Thus, three years ago, the charming 60 year old set out to create the finest sculpure garden in Abercorn. He and his partner own this georgeous spread of rolling hills, landscaped ponds which are fed by rivulets of water cascading through a landscape of rocks, symmetrical but artisticly placed. This is Mr. Ferland's personal Versailles. It is open to the public on weekends at no charge and has become of the hidden treasures of the Sutton area.
Last year Maurice gave a garden party and 800 of his former clients, friends and locals attended. "I had 35 pieces on display and sold 32 of them" he muses. I can personally attest to the attraction of Maurice's work as some of my own friends have them, others display them and the Sutton downtown would be poorer if he would remove some of them, he so generously gave the town to place in the village core.
Ferland's serene landscape is a wonderful backdrop to his creations, which are made with "found objects", from old farm machinery, large gears, hoops of iron, items of bronze or cast iron and always accented by wood. The wood might be boards from an old barn, petrified driftwood or well cured pieces of cedar. He has the knack to meld the color and texture of the wood to his accent pieces and has a fine balance in form and dimension, where not one component of his installation overpowers the other. He also has the designer's instinct of placing his objects in settings optimal for their visual impact.
Other than the joy of the visual sensation of seeing the work, it is almost as much fun to watch the shadows created by these pieces, as they are arranged in wide open areas where the sun plays with shadows within and without those interwoven works, creating an ever changing stimulation for the eye.
"I taught myself to weld three years ago" smiles Mr. Ferland. "Never did it before, but I got the hang of it really quick. Of course the woodwork comes natural to a fashion designer. Every piece of wood is a canvas, a textile presence, the knots in the wood just as stimulating as a finely woven piece of textile I used to incorporate in my fashion designs"
He certainly has an eye for balance and now he muses, "I want to do something a little different. I am outgrowing the rusted pieces. I have to reinvent myself because just as in fashion, things change, evolve, people will want something unique. I do not repeat myself in my work, I did not as a designer and I shall not do so as an artist".
It is going to fascinating to watch what he comes up next because thus 60 year old young man has just started to spread his wings as the maker of magnificent work which we in the greater Sutton area have come to recognize as Mr. Ferland's original creations wherever we see them.