Fibre and Dye Garden at the Innisfree Farm

After having worked for the past years with garden trims, the so called “invasive” plants, foraged fibres or green waste, this is the first year that I grow a Fibre and Dye garden from seed. It all started in March choosing seeds for dye plants and plants for fibre. I had a stash of flax seeds from 2017 including some of the Marilyn variety I bought back then and some were daughter seeds from flax I grew at my friend’s property on Galiano island.

Our fibre garden includes nettles, flax and hemp and our dye plants include marigold, Japanese indigo, dyer’s chamomile, coreopsis and safflower. Some seeds I planted that never germinated included weld, amaranth, hollyhock and madder as it was a very tricky year with a very delayed spring. This year everything was delayed by at least a month and I think this affected our germination rate for some seeds.

I have been tending nettle patches in the valley and transplanted some nettles from a patch next to a kid’s playground. Our nettles are now established at the Innisfree farm and liked having other fibre sisters like flax and hemp beside them as well as other plant friends like plantain, sheep’s sorel, yellow dock and borage. The flax that I was supposed to plant a the end of March or early April, was planted in early May but thankfully, the germination rate was fantastic.

I have loved our family, friends and other student volunteer involvement in tending this garden that was planted with the intention to build community and to generate many education opportunities around plants for textiles and colour. This place has become not only a source of learning, exploration, amazement and discovery for us but also a place that brings joy and has been the the reason for hearts pouring out song, prayer, meditation and gratitude. I have received much more from this place than I anticipated.

Thanks to Chanchal and Thierry for letting m use a piece of the Innisfree farm for this project, for all the incredible support, advice and help with logistics, space and equipment to make this happen and to my family (Momo, Obi and Juan) and friends (Cora, Solara and Robin) for their ongoing support seeding, watering, transplanting, weeding, tending and sharing laughs, good conversations and delicious picnics in this very special place.

Harvesting Local Colour: From Plants to Palette

Learn how to extract colours from home grown flowers, food scraps and wild harvested plant materials like leaves, roots and barks. You will be equipped with the principles of colour extraction to create your own palette from locally available plant materials, the chemistry involved, colour modifications and the step by step process to make inks and watercolours.

To register, visit

About the Facilitators

Juliana Bedoya, Community Engaged Environmental Artist

Juliana Bedoya currently works in community-engaged environmental art practice respectfully using ancestral skills and traditional knowledge that navigates across cultures. Mainly working with garden trims and invasive plants, her work also aims to support local ecological restoration to foster native ecology. She supports individuals and community groups to establish their own cultural significance through skill sharing, including all stages of ethically harvesting and processing raw plant materials for art-making and environmental art practice.

Thanushi Eagalle, Farmer and Seasonal Floral Creative

Thanushi Eagalle grows specialty cut flowers in the Comox Valley and designs with seasonal flowers as Wild Bee Florals. Thanu actively looks for community projects that combine science, art and culture and have found a great rhythm in the flower farming world. She hopes to inspire her local community through flowers grown with regenerative practices and the many creative projects that can stem from these unique wonders. 

Come Home, We Are Kin

Sharing with you some of the work resulting from a remote artist residency I have been leading as part of the From Harm to Harmony: Healing the Land, Healing Ourselves. We are presenting a group exhibition at Sunbury Shores Arts and Nature Centre featuring more than 100 pieces by artists across New Brunswick (and some from BC) with varied representation in terms of cultural backgrounds, geographic locations, accessibility needs, and artistic disciplines. With a unified desire to address the environmental emergency, their work aims to change the story of the nature and climate crises from one of despair, worry and loss to one of hope, love and action.

For the Come Home, We Are Kin collaborative text-based installation, music and video production I am sharing here, we led the group through arts-based online sessions where participating artists addressed climate change as a “relationship problem” and reflected upon ways to inspire climate action from a relational approach to ecological restoration. This collaborative ideation process resulted in a sentence or declaration that aims to expose the interconnectedness and interdependence of humans, the natural world and its different ecological systems, inviting people to restore kinship with the land and people as a fundamental principle that will align us around biocentric values.

Each artist in their geographic location created a letter, in the sentence Come Home, We Are Kin, using different artistic mediums including: encaustic, rug hooking, carving, weaving, knitting, embroidery, wool felting and more. The making of each letter and the installation of each piece in a local forest and tree of choice was individually video documented and then edited as one continuous piece using the Ancient Forest Lullaby that we co-created as the accompanying soundtrack.

Come Home – An Ancient Forest Lullaby is the soundtrack of this video that resulted from several online sessions hosted in late 2021 as a collaborative musical piece co-created by passionate artist activists across Canada. The lullaby represents the point of view of the Ancient Mother trees, themselves, as they guide Earth’s children (all humans) through the wise words they wish to share about protecting them. This empathetic creative process began with collaborative lyric-writing sessions, where Laura Barron led participants from BC and NB (including Karine Cormier, Kaitlyn Gillis, Danielle Manuel, Heather Marmura, Clara Shandler, Kristin Singh, Dana Sipos, & Danielle Smith) in narrative and poetic activities which were ultimately woven together into verse form for the lyrics. Victoria-based singer/songwriter, Dana Sipos brings her deeply soulful vocals to this haunting a capella lullaby, composed by Laura. The lyrics are set to a five-layered vocal accompaniment which represents the mycelium (fungi) layer of interconnected communication that occurs beneath the ancient forest’s soil. Each layer includes either a 1,2,3,5, or 8 syllable word from the co-created lyrics. And the b flat minor melody also uses the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, and 8th notes of its scale. A true team effort throughout, the final product was expertly mixed by producer Ben McClelland, and mastered by Dan Bereza.

Come Home Ancient Forest Lullaby – lyrics

Verse 1
Rest on moss carpet
moist with your sylvan tears
My boughs await
a cradle for your sorrows

Lay still before me
flesh to lychen
and share your breath
with mine

Bridge – 2 x’s
Your solace
Your shelter
Your air
Your muse

Verse 2
Scent of cedar
Hint of tamarack
Grandmother
father and friend

Inhale the rich patina
of our tangled lives
Exhale all you’ve forgotten
Exhale your rooted shame

Chorus
Come home to you
Come home to me
Truth lives inside us
in symphony

Come home to you
Come home to me
Behold of what comes
from one little seed

Verse 3
Give me your presence
under dappled light
Your face lit by
our same sun

Place your palm gently
on my jagged bark
I am protected by your love
your healing touch

Bridge – 2 x’s
My solace
My shelter
My air
My muse

Verse 4
A melody to mend the cracks
whispers in my branches
Let my rustling voice
sustain you

Your ancestors have listened
The song lives in their bones
Do you recall – the music
also lives in you

Bridge – 2 x’s
Our solace
Our shelter
Our air
Our muse

Chorus
Come home to you
Come home to me
Truth lives inside us
in symphony

Come home to you
Come home to me
Behold of what comes
from one little seed

To learn more about this project visit:https://www.conservationcouncil.ca/…/healing-the-land…/

Stories of Now at the Art for Social Change Now Gathering

I was invited to talk at the Art for Social Change Now gathering about the work I have been doing with the Conservation Council of New Brunswick as part of a remote artist residency I have been leading since 2020. It was an honour to be in the company of remarkable community-engaged artists, movers and shakers who are doing amazing work across Canada.

Right now, in every corner of Canada, community-engaged artists and organizations are nurturing new forms of collaborative creation, dialogue, partnerships, and action for positive change. Together we explored important questions: Who is doing the work? What are the current struggles and innovative solutions? How can we and how do we address issues of equity and justice? How are we rising to the critical challenges happening in the community-engaged arts landscape today? Come celebrate the power of transformative change through the processes of participatory artmaking!

Below is some of what I shared at the ASCN gathering.

Action Over Worry, Action Over Environmental Anxiety. Does that sound familiar? Have you repeated that to yourself before? This has been the mantra of our From Harm to Harmony: The Healing Power of Nature project since day 1. We have co-created a space where we feel comfortable sharing our concerns and our own eco-anxiety with a focus on taking action before letting our worries take over

But we have also come to the conclusion that in order to mobilize change and climate action, we need to first heal ourselves and our relationship with the natural world. Coming from Harm to Harmony, that is the actual name of our group that came from Mario, one of our group members. Moving from the extractivist mindset that thinks of nature as a resource, to one that is relational, restoring kinship with the land and people.

Understanding that in order to see change, we need to speak to people who have different and sometimes opposing values. We need to nurture biocentric and inter-relational values first. We have also departed from the idea that change begins with small actions at an individual level, then happens in our families, in our communities, and then in our institutions.

I am currently leading this remote artist residency on opposite ends of Turtle Island. I am on Vancouver Island on the territory of the K’omox First Nation and working with a very diverse group of artists in New Brunswick. We have a varied representation in terms of cultural backgrounds, geographic locations, accessibility needs, artistic mediums including painting, video, non-visual art, songwriting, illustration, rug hooking, felting, weaving, carving, and more. But with one thing in common: they all want to use art to express their concerns about climate change and other environmental issues in their region. 

Thanks to the Futures Forward mentorship program I was part of in 2020, I was paired with the Conservation Council of New Brunswick to lead this for what initially was going to be a 6 month residency project ending in March of 2021. But thanks to the incredible support from art and climate action champions like Louise Cameau, who truly believes in the power of art to transform narratives, and the value of sustaining and giving continuity to this important work, I have been there for over a year now, will continue for the rest of this year and possibly beyond that. 

We have maintained our core group for over a year already and new participants have joined this process that has included: ongoing weekly Zoom meetings, creating individual and collaborative pieces for public art exhibitions, virtual artmaking sessions, skill-sharing opportunities, an online art sale and fundraiser, musical production, creating a community of practice and recently, our own internal mentorship program that will support and compensate artists to lead their own community-engaged projects in different regions of the province.

I am particularly excited about a multi-layered project we are creating right now called Come Home, We Are Kin. This project is resulting after many sessions that included engaging in poetry and songwriting, to then produce a professional recording of an Ancient Forest Lullaby. This song is going to be the soundtrack of the video piece that we are now creating where each one of us is creating one of the letters of the sentence “Come Home, We Are Kin”. We will video-document the whole process of this site-specific text-based installation that starts with making each letter separately in their medium of choice, and then installing it in a forest in their local surroundings. For this, we have participating artists not only from NB but also some from BC addressing this idea of embracing the continent coast to coast. 

This is then going to be edited as a whole in one video piece and will be presented (both the video and the physical letters) in March along with other artwork as part of a travelling exhibition at the Sunbury Shores Arts and Nature Centre in St. Andrews and at the UNB Archives in Fredericton in April for Earth Day. 

Personally, coming from a land-based practice that always engaged participants in person, this experience has changed everything for me in terms of what is possible and what is available for us to use art for social change. 

The Honourable Harvest

In 2016 I had the opportunity to interview one of my heroes, Nancy Turner. This was a job assignment when I was working as a Gallery Manager at ArtStarts in Schools in Vancouver and we had the chance to select 20 thought leaders to celebrate the organization’s 20th anniversary with a campaign called The Next 20. I chose Nancy Turner and was lucky enough to travel from Vancouver to Victoria for this mission to ask her: what role can art and creativity play to support our next generation to thrive in the future?

On top of being one of the most remarkable ethnobotanists with an impressive, and in my opinion, precious body of work documenting plants and their Indigenous uses in the Pacific North West, she is one of the most generous and kind humans I know. She welcomed me outside of her office with a handful of Trailing Blackberries (Rubus ursinus) that she picked on campus right before our meeting and offered them to me. We walked inside her office at UVic the exact same week that she retired. As soon as I entered her office I started to recognize all the baskets that I had seen and read about in her books. It was incredible. These were celebrities to me, Nancy herself and all those baskets that she had collected throughout her career from meaningful exchanges and relationships with Indigenous knowledge keepers.

At that time I had recently read Braiding Sweetgrass, the life changing book that has given language and has beautifully consolidated the most profound and powerful teachings. That book transformed the way I see the natural world and has provided an incredible practical, spiritual and philosophical foundation to the work I do in so many ways.

In our conversation, I quoted the book and asked Nancy, in the context of young people suffering from “nature deficit disorder”, what she thought about “how the average person in North America knows more than 100 corporate logos and can recognize 10 plants” . Nancy stopped and said: “Before I answer, I just want to say that Braiding Sweetgrass is the book I wish I wrote.” We both laughed. And I echo her sentiment.

The relational aspect of working with plants precedes everything else. Getting to know the place, the ecology, the people that historically have tended the land in that area, who currently do it, our presence in the land, the different histories and existing tensions in the territory and how everything is interconnected.

This is why for all the workshops I facilitate, and in addition to all the hands-on elements that are part of our artistic exploration with plants, I invite some reflection and sharing around participant’s own ancestral histories, relationships with the land and the different territories that have been part of their lived experience. If there have been any relationships with plants and traditional skills or hand techniques that have informed those experiences. And I also hand out little pocket cards with the message of The Honourable Harvest. I invite you to see this short video where Robin Wall Kimmerer, author of the book , beautifully explains this teaching.

Foraging Fibre and Basketmaking with Ralph Simpson

We had the honour to welcome botanist and master weaver Ralph Simpson who visited from New Brunswick last week to co-lead with me the Foraging Fibre and Basketmaking workshop at the Innisfree Farm.

Ralph and I met through a remote artist residency I have been leading since last year through the Conservation Council of New Brunswick and it was so exciting to finally meet him in person after a year of collaborating through Zoom meetings.

We had a full day experience discussing plant identification, how to reciprocally and ethically forage plant materials, collection methods, fibre processing, storage as well as preparing the fibre to practice different basketmaking and weaving techniques to complete a piece at the end of the workshop. We also addressed different cultural, environmental and conservation perspectives that support native ecological restoration and cultural integrity.

This workshop was particularly enriching for me, with its emphasis on local, ethically harvested sources of fibre. In addition to learning craft techniques, I was provoked to think in a different way about my relationship with the plants, the land, and we who share it.

Don Lovey, Workshop Participant

Ralph and I had the best time sharing and witnessing participant’s creativity in full swing and their growing confidence working with plant materials. Thanks everyone for braving the weather and showing up with curiosity and the adventurous spirit that allowed for the magic of art-land-based connection to manifest!

I loved your passion for plants and the reverence you have for them. And you were both so incredibly knowledgable regarding plants and techniques for weaving.

Heather, Workshop Participant

A Summary of our Summer Series at the Innisfree Farm

We had an incredible season this summer at the Innisfree Farm and Botanic Garden with the Art, Ecology and Community workshop series that invited participants to learn about different local plants to explore their creative possibilities, the different connections to the territory (or territories) that we call home, while supporting native ecological restoration.

The location couldn’t be better and provided not only the most beautiful setting for the series, but also was the source of many of the materials used for each workshop including barks, branches, nettle, bindweed, petals, berries, etc. We welcomed local participants, visitors from across the province and other parts of Canada, including students from Innisfree’s Food and Medicine apprenticeship program.

Each workshop was designed to experience the entire process from harvesting local plants to finished pieces with awareness and connection to ancestry and place. We also invited participants to establish their own cultural significance through skill sharing, including all stages of ethically harvesting and processing raw plant materials for art-making and environmental art practice including fibre processing, weaving, basketmaking, ink-making and more. What a beautiful experience it was to be able to harvest some of the “unwanted” plants at the farm to purposefully use them for bracelets, braids, cordage, baskets, paper, paint brushes, charcoal, pigments and inks.

This workshop was inspiring and enlivening to take part in with the facilitator’s enthusiasm and knowledge flowing easily throughout the class. Highly recommended!

Michelle, Workshop Participant.

Juliana has such an amazing perspective and way about her, that has a way of turning an already super interesting topic into a beautiful learning experience that you just want more of. Would recommend her 100%.

Workshop Participant.

Great combination of exploration, discovery and interaction. Great guidance for the hands on portion.

Stephen Hawkins, Workshop Participant.

The workshop was fabulous! Juliana is a truly delightful facilitator with beautiful talent and skill, extremely helpful, friendly, enthusiastic and extremely well prepared. I left just wanting to learn more. Such an inspiring workshop.

Workshop participant.

We wrapped up the series the day of the fall equinox and celebrated the Innisfree volunteer appreciation event that invited the amazing team at the farm to make baskets with materials harvested by the pond. We used cattails, tule and yellow flag iris leaves for basketmaking.

Thanks to the land, to everyone who participated, Chanchal, Thierry and the fabulous team at Innisfree!

From Harm to Harmony: The Healing Power of Nature

This exhibition presents artwork culminating from a collaboration initiated through a remote-artist residency led by community-engaged environmental artist Juliana Bedoya in British Columbia and a diverse group of community participants from different geographic regions in New Brunswick. The project emerged from a partnership between the Conservation Council of New Brunswick (CCNB) and the International Centre of Art for Social Change (ICASC) as part of their national FUTURES/forward mentorship program, which embeds community-engaged artists within organizations to address the pressing environmental issues of our times. 

Participants were invited to join this remote residency to express, through art, their ideas and feelings about climate change. The group met weekly via Zoom to converse and discuss environmental issues from a global to a local perspective, and from there, to develop the concepts and pieces presented in this show. Through their work, the artists sought to inspire changes in behaviours in New Brunswick and to offer a space for reflection on ways we might repair our relationship with nature, partly by experiencing its healing power reflected in the artwork.

Varying in age, culture, and professional backgrounds, participants exchanged skills and navigated different mediums and technologies—including embroidery, paper mache, photography, rug hooking, video production, felting, weaving with plant materials, and more—to create individual pieces that are amalgamated into a collaborative narrative that takes visitors from a hopeless reality of climate change, destruction, and harm to an action-driven world where humans are inspired to change their habits to live in harmony with nature.

By creating awareness about the specific challenges that climate change poses in New Brunswick, such as increased flooding, summer droughts, decreasing biodiversity caused by human industry, etc., we hope to inspire New Brunswickers to adopt more thoughtful practices (buying local, tree planting and species restoration, habitat conservation, reducing and recycling packaging, etc.) that will mitigate or redress the negative impacts of climate change.

Visit the project page to learn more about this artist residency and culminating art exhibition: https://www.conservationcouncil.ca/from-harm-to-harmony/

This exhibition was presented at the UNB Art Centre in March 7-April 18, 2021.

Territorios Entretejidos

Con muchísima emoción les presentamos Territorios Entretejidos, una serie de encuentros, diálogos y talleres de intercambio de conocimientos y oficios en un formato virtual que parten de establecer una perspectiva relacional con las plantas.

El primer evento de nuestra serie es un conversatorio virtual, el próximo Sábado Diciembre 19, a las 5PM (Hora Colombia)
Este diálogo es de acceso libre, se transmitirá en vivo por los canales de Youtube & FB de @plants_are_teachers


Pueden inscribirse al evento acá y de paso apuntarse a los tres talleres increíbles que hacen parte de la serie:

Tejiendo Arte y Ecologia: La Cosecha Honorable

Apuntes para una Etnobotánica del Tinturado Natural

Tejiendo con Plantas: Canasta Circular de Hiedra

Para el primer diálogo contaremos con los invitados, Jorge Yopasa @mazanuca (Indigena Muysca de Suba, Antropólogo y Tejedor), Mateo Escobar @mateooo89 (Antropólogo y Tejedor), Juliana Bedoya @julianabedoya (Artista Medioambiental en Comunidades y Tejedora), y será moderado por Maria Angélica Guerrero.

Los invitados trabajan desde el saber de las plantas como maestras, y nos compartirán sus experiencias y su interacción recíproca con ellas aplicada a la exploración del entorno natural como laboratorio creativo.

También compartirán cómo su práctica está conectada con la manifestación tangible de conocimientos gracias a una relación íntima con los territorios que habitan e interactúan, lo cual ha generado restauración ecológica y revitalizaición cultural de saberes ancestrales.


Acompáñanos 🌿

Talleres

FUTURES/forward Artist Residency at the Conservation Council of New Brunswick

I am very excited to be one of the 13 community-engaged artists selected for the FUTURES/forward Mentorship program that supports community-engaged arts practitioners to work together in a peer-learning framework, with experienced artists mentoring evolving artists.

I am part of a triad model where I was paired with a mentor who is a seasoned arts practitioner based in Toronto and an incredible environmental organization in the Maritimes, the Conservation Council of New Brunswick.

I will be facilitating the artistic expression of environmental issues and opportunities, including climate change starting with this question:

How might we express our ideas or feelings about climate change through art?

Participants will regularly meet online with me to scope out the project, determine and then execute their art project(s). With participant’s permission, there are opportunities to showcase the resulting artistic work.

I will be sharing here some of the process and outcomes of this exciting project!