Monday, June 29, 2009

The Bee Tent

I was incredibly honored to perform as Madame Beespeaker at the Colony Farm Midsummer Fête on Saturday. I was in a tent beside the Honey Bee Centre folks who had a display with a visible hive and free honey sticks for the kids.

I had lots of kids and adults drop in to chat and create messages for the bees. Whenever I took a breather and stepped outside the tent, I saw eagles, hawks, and herons flying overhead.

The tent was decorated with beautiful prayer flags made with designs by Tamara Unroe. The event was a pleasure to be a part of and I hope Marina Szijarto (with Public Dreams) has the opportunity to create the event again next year.

Mad Hats at the Tea Party

I've always wanted to meet a Morris dancer and here I am at the Colony Farm Midsummer Fête with my dream come true-- times four. They're all lovely and they're all named Morris. What a coincidence!

The lovely tea tent couple were really hustling all afternoon. At one point there were even line-ups to get a seat. I heard the lavender scones were delicious.

J. stopped by smelling of roses!

Pick a hat and take a seat.

She really does have a bee in her bonnet.

A giant tea set made of tea bags by Tamara Unroe.

Gorgeous linens with Tamara's tea cup motif.

Midsummer Fête at Colony Farm: Installations

These are birds, nests, and butterflies made by Haruko Okano out of natural materials.

Paula Jardine invited people to write messages and poems on the wooden salmon. She explained to me that the salmon in the lake nearby had adapted from being ocean salmon to lake salmon when their migration path was cut off by a dam.

Here is one of Marina Szijarto's luminous snails.

Tamara Unroe's salmon people lined the path that lead toward the red bridge.

Tamara Unroe made many beautiful creations for this event. I am a huge fan of her work.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Elongated Bees

I recently worked with a grade three class who made messages for the bees. I love their elongated bee drawings. The messages are honest, sweet, and poignant. (Just click on the photos if you find the print too small to read.)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

MOP Celebration

Yesterday was the wrap-up celebration for our project with Henderson Elementary. The teacher and I herded the students onto the Fraser bus and made the slow journey down the hill to the Means of Production Garden. The kids burbled and twittered like starlings. It's the end of June. They're ready to leave the nest and fly into the long summer of freedom.

While I gave one half of the class a tour of the garden, Sharon Kallis lead the other half in a workshop on ephemeral art. She showed the color palette of the materials they would be working with and asked them to think about how an ephemeral artist's palette would change throughout the seasons.

Sharon has a long history of working with all ages of students, so it is wonderful to see her teaching in an easy and relaxed manner, with tons of enthusiasm.

The students used materials they had gathered as well as the flower heads, grasses and petals Sharon gathered. I gave them some giant pine cones I found on the Cambie Boulevard.

Here you can see one student's sensitive use of the delicate colors of the materials.

Sharon makes it clear that she doesn't want the artists to "make a picture" with the materials, but work intuitively with color and texture and pattern.

Sharon worked with the students on the sidewalk above North China Creek Park adjacent to the MOP Garden. Here's a long shot so you can see how big those pine cones really are. (The students are down below in the playground at this point, working of some steam before we head back to school.)

Taking the students to see the garden was an important part of teaching them to think about where artist's materials come from. I talked to them about the concept of a renewable resource with a small ecological footprint while showing them the stands of willow and hazel. In this way they can take those concepts and apply them to other raw materials and products they use in their everyday lives.

I can talk all I like about the ecology, when much of what the workshop was about was beauty and the rediscovery of the immediate natural beauty found in the urban environment that we often take for granted.

Creating awareness and mindfulness in students is something that helps them negotiate space on a public bus, on a sidewalk, at school and in the privacy of their own home. I believe that this way of creating ephemeral art is a great tool for teaching mindfulness to students. However, yesterday was a humbling day for me, a day to let go of my hope to influence young minds and win their approval. They are biding time until they can swoop out from under the watchful eye of an elder. The students will use their freedom this summer to have some unselfconscious time, time inside summer and play, which is more important than anything I can ever give them.