Saturday afternoon kicked off the first of Freedom Baird’s 10 visits to sites in the Boston Harbor Islands National Park Area. Out on the pier on the northern-most tip of Houghs Neck, on Nut Island in Quincy, she quietly set up her Human Nature Field Desk. Once there, she engaged in two types of story gathering: finding out from visitors why they come to that place, what they like about it, and what it means to them; and recording her own visceral experience of being in the space for the first time: how it looks, smells, what the sounds are, how the air and the surroundings feel…
With the desk and the objects on it, and wearing a 1930s-style calico dress, Freedom created an environment for people to feel welcome to stop by and engage in conversation, to peruse her archive of books about Boston Harbor, and to offer their own written or drawn reflections of what they appreciate about the place, what they remember or will remember about it, and it’s meaning for them.
Fishing seemed to be the main activity on the Houghs Neck pier on Nut Island. A friendly fisherman named Wayne, who is also a jazz drummer, was kind enough to explain a little bit about how fishing works. He described how the permits work, how there are more fish at high tide, and how he was hoping to catch an octopus. Other fisherman were catching crabs, using chickenbacks as bait in wire baskets with a rock as a weight. Children were there as well, and people seemed quiet and peaceful looking out at the water hoping to see their fishing line or basket move from a catch. I got there after Freedom had been at Houghs Neck for about two hours, and she already seemed to know everyone there.
Freedom is excited to see what kind of material people share as the residency progresses. As she gathers words and images as they relate to the places she pops up at, she will settle on a way to organize the material and let the structure emerge. Baird will bind these contributions into an archival volume as a record of future places long-gone, and will present it to the City of Boston to be preserved at the Boston Public Library.
The rest of the Shore Line Recall pop-ups will take place on various days in July and August:
Sun July 29 (12-4pm): World’s End, Hingham
Sun Aug 5 (3-7pm): Deer Island, Winthrop
Sat Aug 18 (12:30-4:30pm): Georges Island
Sun Aug 19 (11am-3pm): Grape Island
Tues Aug 21 (11am-3pm): Peddocks Island
Weds Aug 22 (11am-3pm): Lovells Island
Thurs Aug 23 (11am-3pm): Spectacle Island
Fri Aug 24 (10am-1pm): Bumpkin Island
All are welcome to participate!
For more information visit: http://freedombaird.org/human-nature/shore-line-recall/