A Place to Stay and Burning Urn was commissioned in 2006 as part of Dwelling, an exhibition funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional funding provided by the Boston Foundation for Architecture and individual donors.

Michael Beatty and Mike Newby

A Place to Stay
Painted steel, wood and copper

Burning Urn
Painted steel, wood and copper leaf

Two elegant structures combine the Gothic Revival architectural motifs of Victorian monuments with a familiar garden device: the birdhouse. These modest structures offer protection to the birds that enliven Forest Hills’ landscape with motion and song. The artists also pay tribute to birds as ancient symbols of the soul and transition, appropriate metaphors in the context of the cemetery.

Artists' Statement
We were drawn to the architectural presence of the Victorian era monuments with their amalgam of Greek, Roman, Gothic and Egyptian architectural motifs. This layering of multiple motifs is not unlike the artistic pastiche of our own time.

The monuments also incorporate a language of symbols that while well understood in Victorian times is often lost to today’s visitors– -- a broken column representing a “life cut short” and a downturned torch as “life extinguished”. We ultimately became interested in using the symbol of the bird, an enduring image of transition, breaking earthly bounds and ascending to the heavens. Forest Hills is a wonderful sanctuary for birds and a place where transition is present in multiple aspects.

Our birdhouses rework the architectural motifs of the cemetery and provide shelter for its living, breathing, animated residents. By manipulating mass and volume in the construction of the supporting framework, we aim to integrate a sense of the traditional with a new, deconstructed model. The subtle humor incorporated in these birdhouses is a foil for the sense of the inevitable that surrounds the present day visitor to Forest Hills.

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