A rickety chair reclaimed by the forest sits amid the spring growth along the Wild Woods walk at the Haliburton Forest and Wildlife preserve.

Nearby, yellow sundresses adorned with flowers gently sway on a clothesline.

Both works of textile are part of Art in the Forest, an art installation along the Forest’s Wild Woods interpretive nature trail. The exhibition was organized by Connections Fibre Artists, an Ontario-wide collective.

Group member Wendy O’Brien, who has a cottage nearby, came up with the idea.

“I was looking for a project for the rest of the members to be sort of a challenge,” she said.

“Each person was left up to their own devices.”

They have been creating work for the exhibit for the past two years since the show was delayed multiple times due to COVID-19.

O’Brien’s three-dimensional wool art blends into the forest landscape. Her chair is covered in funghi and a crow perches on the top.

“It’s nature taking over,” O’Brien said, “We all return to nature at the end of the day.”

Helen Hughes, a textile artist who has exhibited internationally, said she didn’t feel engaged with the show until arriving at the Forest. “There are a number of [collective members] located in southern Ontario. We couldn’t visualize it, we couldn’t imagine it,” she said.

She also hadn’t seen the other artists’ pieces.

“I just couldn’t believe how awesome they looked,” she said.

Once she and other Connections members arrived to hang the work in mid-May, she was impressed with the variety and natural landscape they had to work with.

“We had a riot,” she said.

Hughes often works on large projects, her energetic use of colour and shape combined in two-dimensional sewed cloth scenes.

This was the first time Connections artists had pursued a fully outdoors show, with their work set to endure rain, snow and sun.

“It will probably disintegrate. There is something quite assuring knowing we are giving back to the environment,” said Hughes.

Art in the Forest will be available to view along the Wilds Wood walk for the rest of 2022.