Many residents of downtown St. John's may have been unaware of a beautiful installation right under their noses last week amongst the trees of the grounds of the Anglican Cathedral right across from the Casbah restaurant. I found my way there after receiving an invite from the artist herself, and after hearing a very brief interview on CBC radio about the work.
A heavy rain from the night before had me worried about whether the installation had survived, and for about ten minutes I wandered around the grounds outside the Anglican Catherdral looking for the elusive paper moths I'd heard so much about. The real
moths were there in strong supply, of course, and many times I'd come up to a tree whereupon a moth was pitching and have it unexpectedly fly away.
I eventually found the paper moths on the trunks of the trees that line the fence overlooking Duckworth Street, and noticed that many of them were also strewn in the tall grass near the ground. They are very simply and elegantly constructed, consisting of the paper cut-out shape, a dab of glue, and a straight pin through the centre of the cut-out for affixing to the trees and grass.
Maybe it's just me (I've been a little fixated on moths lately as well), but I found myself wondering what Greeley was getting at with this piece. I like the idea of art hiding in plain sight: from a distance the paper moths can pretty easily be mistaken for real ones, and you would have had to hear the radio interview or spoken with the artist to know about the work in the first place. But what I kept coming back to was the idea of the moth as a symbol for transformation. Maybe it's trite, but I kept wondering if Greeley was perhaps suggesting there is some larger change coming to the way art is seen and made in our fair city. Time will tell.
There may still be time to see this work if the wind and rain hasn't yet stripped the trees.