A Fairy Tale For an unknown period of time on a quiet, semi-secret spot on the right bank of Edmonton’s Mill Creek, deep in the ravine, a small Gnome named Jerome has been living quietly, until recently, with his life-partner Noam. Jerome and Noam took part in Edmonton’s 35th annual Pride Celebration by flying a small rainbow flag in their little Gnome Garden filled with trinkets and messages from their friends amongst we Big Persons. Tragically, sometime over the last few days, Jerome’s Gnome Home was brutally attacked and largely destroyed by (Big?) Persons Unknown. The destruction was discovered by a Big Person coming with a small gift for the Garden. To his horror, he found Noam’s shattered head lying on the forest path and the Gnomes’ treasures scatted about the roots of the spruce tree they had made their home. Jerome was nowhere to be seen. A History Jerome’s Gnome Home is a guerrilla art installation by Edmonton artist, etc. Kristin Ashmore. She created the little tableau of a Gnome named Jerome enjoying his garden in the spring of 2015, never expecting it to last more than a few days. In fact, Jerome and his partner Noam continued happily undisturbed in their home almost until the end of June.
I had been following the charming story of Jerome’s Gnome Home – and its amazing endurance — for some time on social media. Soon my friend Kristin’s whimsical project became a collaboration with anonymous friends of Jerome and Noam who added trinkets and notes to their little garden. I was hoping to get down into the Ravine with my sidekick and her mobility issues to join in the fun. When Kristin made Jerome’s Gnome Home into a Make Something Edmonton project for #DYIcity day and posted fairly precise directions to find Jerome, I immediately got together what I thought an appropriate Gnome Gift and we set off to the Ravine. My gift for Jerome and Noam’s secret forest sanctuary was a fragment of a larger thing I’m working on related to a Medieval poem, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, concerning a man who searches for a secret forest sanctuary. I left my sidekick to rest at picnic tables on the left bank of the Creek, quickly rushed across the red bridge, and followed the clues Kristin had described. At almost the same instant I saw the toppled sign asking that the Gnome Home be respected and a piece of Noam’s shattered head on the path at my feet. I continued on, placing my gift and the shard of Noam’s head in the ruined garden and tweeted a photo to Kristin.
This could have been a story of vandalism and an artist moving on, giving the Coors Banquet swilling barbarians the victory. But that’s not Edmonton’s way, that’s not Edmonton’s artists’ way, and most emphatically, that not the way Kristin Ashmore rolls. On our way home we met Kristin marching as though to war, a satchel of replacement bits on her arm, her partner at home prepping the back-up Jerome (sadly Noam had no replacement). By evening, Jerome’s Gnome Home was back in place, the only sign of the Battle of the Gnome Home being a small cemetery memorialising the fallen.
Personally, I hope Jerome’s charming Home lasts until winter, a tiny bit of warmth and colour in the short, grey days. And winter is the season when Sir Gawain came to the Green Chapel and survived what seemed certain destruction. Just as Jerome did yesterday.
Update, July 28, 2015: I dropped in on Jerome this evening and was pleased to find that he’s still doing well. I know Kristin goes by regularly and tidies a bit for Jerome. Happily there have been no more cases of egregious vandalism.
Perhaps Jerome has unknown friends in the woods.
Big, scary, protective friends!