Bumpkin Island Art Encampment

One of the long-term visions for the Boston Harbor Islands national park area includes the presence of an artist colony on one of the islands. Well, this weekend (July 31 and August 1) you can get a sneak peek of what such a colony might look like as Bumpkin Island hosts its fourth annual Art Encampment.

During the encampment, artists become “homesteaders” who take temporary ownership of island plots and build their own shelter, live on the land, and create a site-specific, temporary performance or art installation. The interactive art installations will include performance art, mixed-media exhibitions, and sculptures inspired by the Boston Harbor Islands.

The web site for the Berwick Research Institute, a non-profit art organization, has a full listing of the artist works you’ll see this weekend. A couple of them, in particular, caught my eye. One is “The Great Bumpkin Hunt” by Ali Reid, which riffs off the island’s playful name. Here’s the description: “Building on island folklore that ‘Bumpkins’ are ‘little guys with glowing eyes,’ Reid and a cast of intergenerational family members will lead daily interpretive tours exploring the mysterious species’ rise and decline.”

The second is “Bumpkin Sky-Land” by Mark Davis, which is described as an exploration of “the mystical realm of ‘sky-land’ alluded to in a World War I-era ballad about Bumpkin, as he summons the island’s aerial genii loci to manifest themselves in the form of floating lattice structures and shoreline fire-glyphs.” That ballad, the “Bumpkin Island War Song,” was written by the men at Bumpkin’s WWI-era Naval Training Station. The full song, included in the pages of Discovering the Boston Harbor Islands, refers to Bumpkin as “a jewel dropped from sky-land/for you’ll help us win the war.” (Bring your copy of Discovering the Boston Harbor Islands along with you, and you’ll not only see the full “Bumpkin Island War Song” but you’ll learn all about the rich history of Bumpkin Island and what you can see out there today including the ruins of an old farmhouse, a children’s hospital, and an old mess hall for the naval station.)

In addition to the public ferry to Bumpkin Island, which leaves from Georges Island and the Hingham Shipyard Marina, a special boat shuttle will take visitors directly from Long Wharf in Boston to Bumpkin Island. The special shuttle leaves at 1 PM on July 31 and August 1 and returns at 7 PM. Tickets are $15 and may sell out. To purchase tickets in advance, click here.

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