Colourful Coves: A Dyeing Workshop
On September 24th, 2022, I led a group of artists and nature enthusiasts gathered at The Coves in so-called London, Ontario in a free workshop on the ethical foraging of black walnuts in order to transform them into a potent plant dye. What resulted was an afternoon of sharing, learning and spontaneous exploration. A booklet on how to dye with goldenrod and raspberries was also handed out, and the materials from the making of this booklet as well as the walnut-dyed materials were given to Michelle Wilson for her community project, Tracing CareFull Paths, in which they were stitched into a map of The Coves.
This workshop was delivered by The Coves Collective, a group working with this significant natural area to create artworks which engage with the land and the community using a decolonial framework. The collective exists as a Community Project by Gardenship and State, an artistic research project headed by Jeff Thomas and Patrick Mahon which exists at the intersection of environmental critique, decolonial theory, and artistic practice. This workshop could not have been possible without vital work from Michelle Wilson.
Photography by Billy Fischer and Michelle Wilson. A notice of photo publication was sent to participants prior to the workshop. Please contact me at any time if you would like your photo removed.
Dirt Stains & Other Works
This body of work was created for a solo exhibition at Forest City Gallery in 2022, which was granted through the Forest City Gallery Exhibition Award. The show’s artist statement follows:
Dirt Stains and Other Works is a transformation of materials growing within and littered across my neighbourhood ecosystem. Subtle shades are coaxed from foraged edibles, kitchen scraps and scavenged gems of rubbish, then combined with repurposed and handwoven textiles to express the process of creation and decay that is inherent to living organisms and the artworks they construct. I explore ephemerality and the decomposing body as ways to begin to engage more deeply, sustainably and reciprocally with the land, and to reckon with the difficulties of loss and mortality. The delicacy of textiles, decorative patterns and their associations with the feminine are employed as ways to approach the land “softly,” and as an alternative to the masculinist landscape tradition.
Treasures. Found objects, hand-woven, found and new cloth, cedar cones, black walnuts, grandmothers’ thread. 44.10 x 31.50 cm. 2020.
Eating Colours. Old family dish towel, hand-woven, found and new cloth, found ceramics, wool yarn, avocados, yellow onion skins, turmeric, black walnuts, coffee, embroidery thread. 94.00 x 52.00 cm. 2021.
Stop 5G Maple Leaves. Found and new cloth, found stone and branch, wool batting and yarn, yellow onion skins, turmeric, rust, acorns, maple leaves, thread 85.50 x 35.00 cm. 2021.
Cloth In Situ. Photograph. 40.00 x 29.00 cm. 2021.
Leaf Prints with Walnut Ink Under a Bridge. Photographic print. 40.50 x 27.00 cm. 2021.
Dolls. Cotton cloth and thread, wool batting, mother-of-pearl buttons, rust, vinegar, acorns, whey, sumac, black raspberries, swamp mud. Each 26.00 x 6.50 x 3.50 cm. 2021.
Process of a Swamp Burial (still). Video. 3:30. 2021.
Documentation by Abby Vincent.
With Earth in My Lungs
Paintings and textiles I produced while working on his undergraduate degree at the University of Western Ontario, as well as the intervening summers, culminated in this solo exhibition in 2022 at the Queen Elizabeth Park Community and Cultural Centre, brought together under the title With Earth in My Lungs. The artist statement for the exhibition follows:
My most difficult and longest-lasting project is (and will always be) making death my acquaintance, not my enemy. I reckon if I make a practice of getting to know the cool, dark soil, if I memorize the lattice of the bones I find washed up on the lakeshores, then perhaps I can learn something about death other than heartache and fear.
These seven works were made while I was preoccupied by the idea of liminality, of what it means to exist someplace in between. A medieval monster with a fatal voice and a walk on a moonlit night both share the quality of being between one thing and the next.
I believe embracing liminality is a step towards making death an acquaintance – we are all of us liminal creatures, always in a state of becoming and becoming undone.
Cemetery. Oil and acrylic on canvas. 106.68 x 81.28 cm. 2018.
Millefleur. Watercolour. 48.26 x 68.58 cm. 2018.
Bloodletting. Oil on canvas. 71.12 x 55.88 cm. 2018.
The Catch. Oil and acrylic on canvas. 60.96 x 45.72 cm. 2019.
The Mandrake Field. Oil on panel. 91.44 x 121.92 cm. 2019.
Stag Woman. Acrylic on canvas. 71.12 x 86.36. 2017.
The Holy City. Embroidery (cotton thread, cotton cloth and wood). 40.64 x 25.40 cm. 2019.
A Snowfall. Oil on panel. 121.92 x 91.44 cm. 2019.
Exhibition view photography with assistance from Billy Fischer and Donald Knowles.