Canadian Folk Art Outdoors

The Barnyard

Certain folk art creations, by their very nature, are intended for display in the barnyard. A gigantic painting of a cow, for example, would be unlikely to find a home on the front of a house, whereas the same picture set against the huge canvas of the barn demonstrates button-bursting pride in farming life.

Other farmyard pieces, such as the carved doorstop and the scarecrow, combine function with form, one of the very basic tenets of folk art. Think of a beautiful quilt or a decorated trunk, which provide warmth or storage space respectively, while provoking the senses at the same time. Or, indeed, a weather-vane, which provides information about the wind while making a superb impression against the sky.

Scarecrow - Photo: H. Foster "Clem" the Scarecrow
Maker unknown
Uxbridge, Ontario
20th century
CCFCS 77-237

No one knows how this scarecrow got his name. Clem illustrates the process of folk art, how the accretion of detail, including a name, adds meaning and character to a basic, utilitarian image. His original creator made a rough wooden figure, whose furrowed arms could be held outstretched to scare the birds. Clearly his hat, pipe, glasses and apron - and possibly the ring in his nose and lapel pin - were later additions. Note that Clem is rather short, and may have been designed to stand on a fence post.

Maker unknown
20th century
CCFCS 76-463
Cow - Photo: H. Foster
Doorstop Woman - Photo: H. Foster Doorstop Woman
George Cockayne
Madoc, Ontario
CCFCS 75-1057

Mr. Cockayne operated a small farm, where much of his activity revolved around repairing and replacing cedar fence posts. The wind always blew his large barn door shut, he explained, and so he adapted the top of a cedar tree as a convenient doorstop. Its shape reminded him of the torso of a woman, and eventually he carved and painted clothes for her. After she had held the door open for several seasons, the artist modelled arms and a head. A lifelong bachelor, Mr. Cockayne remarked dryly, "It's nice to have a woman to come home to."

Painted Chicken
Collins Eisenhauer
Union Square, Nova Scotia
Ca. 1975
CCFCS 77-385
Chicken - Photo: H. Foster

Another dynamic Eisenhauer work. What hauteur, what dignity!


This Other Eden
Canadian Folk Art Outdoors


The Front Lawn | The Barnyard | The Porch | Rooftops | Woods | The Pond | The Venus Corner | Fantasy | O Canada | Fence Posts | The Private Backyard Garden | Contemporary "Faux" Folk Art