After a little break, I am back at Richmond Nature Park to sort and package all the amazing artworks created during this residency. We have around 25 packages ready to be picked up for the 90 plus participants from the various workshops. Many came as a family and some to more than one workshop, resulting in quite hefty packages. I also added some goodies from the events and a personal note in each. Others will be mailed to the greater metro-Vancouver area and one to Germany. I cannot wait for everyone to receive their packages as I always had a fondness for mail art.
This year has passed by so fast; I can still remember the conceptual transformation back in the beginning of the year. We went from a childlike approach to one of still, quiet and introspective nature. That turning point inspired all the Sensory Workshops and Story Exchanges after which lead to the installation and legacy book. It has been such a wonderful journey with the community and staff, and in return, I have been inspired to continue my exploration.
In ending, I would like to share 10 of my most memorable moments from the residency and of course, sent another big thank you to the community and the staff at Richmond Nature Park and Richmond Public Art for all your support that made this project happen.
On Saturday October 12, we had our final event for The Interpreter Project called Silent Wonders. It was a community exhibition of all the artworks created by the artist and community during the course of the residency. As it occurred during the Thanksgiving long weekend, the event was a way to celebrate the participants accomplishments as well as a way to thank the community and nature for its inspiration.
The log house was transformed into a warm exhibition space with little people from Hidden Stories leading the path in. The fireplace served as a reading area for the legacy book, Passages. We had tea and treats along with inks and paints for those who fancied a longer stay. All those who came by got to take home a little sticker of Newton as a souvenir.
My favourite part of the day was when participants from the Sensory Workshops came by, bringing friends to show off their artwork. They explained their process and the themes of the project, taking ownership and being proud of what they have accomplished. Having witness that, it made this whole project worth it.
We also had a little special friend from the Nature Park who came by to visit on his day off. Thank you, Perry, for being such a good sport and bringing so much laugher to the day. It was a very sweet conclusion to the year.
But that is not the very end, after the Nature Park’s own big event, I will be back to organize and sent off the artworks back each participant. Looking forward to that!
It has been a busy 8 months since the start of The Interpreter Project here at Richmond Nature Park. As I been organizing the artworks and documentations, it struck me just how much the community has done. From Story Exchanges, Sensory Workshops, Hidden Stories, Open Studios, Open Air Studio for Culture Days to Passages; we have a lot worth celebrating.
Therefore, I would like to invite everyone once again to the last event of the project, Silent Wonders here at the Nature Park in the Kinsmen Pavilion tomorrow, October 12 from 11am – 3pm. It will be a celebratory exhibition of the residency, a space to revisit those memories and share the creativity over tea and treats. It will also be the launch of Passages, the legacy book. In this time of Thanksgiving, Silent Wonders is a way to thank the community for their participation and nature for its inspiration.
If you cannot find Pavilion, just look for the little people from Hidden Stories who will guide you to the entrance. In the meantime, here is a quick before and after snap of the space. Come by tomorrow to see all the details!
Between all the planning for the various events and workshops, I been enjoying quiet studio time at Richmond Nature Park, working on the legacy book. In reflection to the language demographic of the community here, the book will be wordless, letting the images be interpreted without the boundaries of linguistics. Therefore, the imageries become even more important and the transitions between need to speak volumes. I am excited to share with you the book in full soon at Silent Wonders, the celebratory exhibition of the project but in the meantime, here are some sneak peaks.
One of the themes of the book is the passage of time. As the residency is a yearlong, I thought the perfect way of presenting that idea is through the seasons. I been documenting the changes of winter to spring and spring to summer that occurs at the park. The changes in colour, density of the plants and even the sky – it is an amazing process to behold. Many people have told me that their favourite from the four seasons is fall, which one is yours?
The funny situation is that I needed to get the book ready before autumn fully hits the Nature Park. Therefore, it was actually the only one that I had to imagine through the descriptions from the staff and photos references from the Wild Things event in the past. I used summer as the base and changed the colours and shapes of the leaves. They say it is pretty accurate, so I am excited to see if that is true later in October.
As the newt is a creature which cannot hear nor see well, we been drawing inspiration from its limited senses as the premises of the project. The book reflects that through artist and community interpretations on the senses in relations to the land and water. Here is a glimpse on the texture of earth; expressed through the taste of slugs which Newton eats and conveyed through abstracted colours and layers of artwork by the community.
In celebration of the nation-wide Culture Days weekend, The Interpreter Project joined in with a more elaborate Open Air Studio on Sunday, September 29th from 1pm-4pm. Photos from Hidden Stories were displayed along with a selection of the books created from Story Exchange. Paintings for Passages, the legacy book was on display as well along with corresponding community artwork from the smaller scale Open Studios. We had large crowds come by, some new to the project while others have participated in various ways and were excited to see the display and documentations of their artworks.
For Culture Days, I designed a blank postcard of Newton to give to the participants, inviting them to draw and paint from the perspective of the small vulnerable creature. I encouraged everyone to think how he perceives the world as his senses are limited from ours. It was such fun to hear the different ideas – a little boy insisted Newton can play video games very well, one drew him as a police newt, others took it in a different direction with abstraction, colours and even an eye doctor treatment. I feel the existing newt drawing provided more parameters so that more adults and parents joined in the activity and creation. Many painted the grass and newt while they thought, the action giving them the extra time needed to engage.
With the transition from summer to fall, The Interpreter Project is also transitioning to its next phase which is the legacy portion. We will be creating a book on Newton the newt who has been living at the Richmond Nature Park since the early 2000s. The theme will be on the passages of time, continuing with the concept of the senses through an abstracted visual exploration of water, earth and the community around us.
In preparation for the book, I been collecting images of water, earth and people from the community and how they relate to these ideas during two sessions of Open Studio on September 7th and September 14th. Many were excited to add to the book; one boy stating, while painting, that he is working for Newton. Others admired the progress of the pages and was inspired by the scenes of the changes of the seasons. Though it has been quieter here as the park due to the wet in weather, it has been nice to spend longer periods of time with those who came by.
The past Saturday, August 24th, we had the Hidden Stories event here at Richmond Nature Park. It was such a magical day that I do not even know where to begin describing it all. The weather was perfect; the sun was shining and the wind was gentle. We saw familiar faces from the past workshops who came to see the installation as well as many who just came to the park on a sunny day.
Every time before a big installation, I cannot help but be a little nervous as you are never sure if things will work out to what is envisioned. When I was creating Hidden Stories, I desired for it to be a work that inspires the viewers to slow down and enjoy the nature and each other’s company. Many staff members told me that they heard strangers talk to each other, finding the little people together. I saw many families circle the boardwalk numerous times, spending the time to enjoy each story. Some came to ask me the meaning behind few of their favourites and the progress of the project. With the laughter, exclamations and excitement, all I can say is that it went better than I can ever imagine.
I have many photos to share so we will go one by one through each story. Though the digital can never replace the wonder of nature and that moment of discovery, I hope they can capture a glimpse of the magic of that day.
The Story of Birds:
Let us gather to watch the birds fly by.
The Story of Buttercups:
We shall go enjoy the wonders of nature.
The Story of Butterflies:
Catching the fleeting moments of treasured childhood.
The Story of Colours:
Seeing the world in all its colours.
The Story of Constellations:
A child’s legacy in the night sky.
The Story of Crows:
Commemorating the circle of life.
The Story of Flowers:
Come see the duck flower, the blue jay flower, the red jay flower and the berry flowers.
The Story of Life:
Recalling a moment between life, death and the awe of nature.
The Story of Lunch:
A lunch shared between friends.
The Story of Macro:
Trying to find that perfect shot?
The Story of Memory:
A journey into the abstracted fragments of memory.
The Story of Seashells:
Remembering that summer day at the beach.
The Story of Smell:
Inhale the colour of the fragrances.
The Story of Stairs:
Up, up and up we go.
The Story of Time:
A bond with nature across the generations.
The Story of Trees:
A mission to make the world pink.
The Story of Windows:
Discovering the beauty of nature around the world.
From the Open Studio on August 3rd.
The Richmond Nature Park Staff
A big thank you to my install assistant, Shanna Cheng for helping me get the 216 pieces up in the 2.5 hours and photographer, Bor Yan for documenting it all. Of course, thank you to Richmond Public Art and the Richmond Nature Park Society for making this all happen. Excited for the legacy piece on Newton the Newt ahead.
I am excited to invite everyone to the interactive installation Hidden Stories this Saturday, August 24th at Richmond Nature Park.
The interactive installation is inspired by a series of one on one conversations between the artist and the community called Story Exchange. These exchanges were conducted at Richmond Nature Park during the months of June to July 2019. With the artist, participants created a visual map of their relationship with nature starting with their connection to the land and followed by the senses of touch, sight, smell, hearing, taste and memory. The artist then interpreted each of these stories into an illustrated scene and is installed back into the nature to which it came.
My install assistant and I will be there in the wee hours of the morning to set up the 216 little people in their environments. The public is invited to come by between 11:00am to 3:00pm to take a stroll and find these stories of nature. It has been months and months of work leading up to these magical 4 hours. I hope you are all as ecstatic as I am to fully experience it all.
Here are some sneak peeks of a few of my favourite pieces. See you there!
The past Saturday we had our first Open Studio here at Richmond Nature Park. I laid out some of the books created from Story Exchange and its corresponding interpreted illustrations to view. It was such fun to talk with all those who came by about the process and progress of the project. I had good reviews and responses from children and adults alike. Many enjoyed the meaning, community involvement and research this portrays while the little ones just simply believe the drawings were magical.
A station for the community to create some cameos for the installation was also set up beside. I encouraged everyone to find inspiration from the plants or animals in the trails but soon, creativity took over. I am happy to say we will be including the Park’s first lion, t-rex and a new species of fish called "daddy fish". These and all the other artworks created will be hidden in the park around the boardwalk for everyone to find at Hidden Stories happening soon!
One thing I learned during all the workshops is the joy of working within nature. From noon to late afternoon, the community and I would move around the sun to find shade during Story Exchange. On Saturday, we ran around to catch fly away paper that was not taped down during winding gusts. It was a great conversation starter on our relationship with our environment and brought a lot of laughter.
This Open Studio concludes all the workshops leading up to the installation. During the next two and a half weeks, I will be processing the estimated 200 images created and prepare them for Hidden Stories. Though seeing them in white does not encompass the whole aesthetics of them installed in nature, I would still like to show a few sneak peaks of the final illustrations. Each is from a different story and interweaved with marks made by the community in a different way.
Over the course of June and July, I been conducting an activity called Story Exchange here at Richmond Nature Park. It is a one on one or in many cases, one family on one, conversation between the community and the artist. We start off with some blueberry tea, get comfortable and then draw together in a hand-made book. The book opens up one sense at a time, bringing awareness to the land beneath our feet, to the familiar sensations of touch, taste, hearing, smell, sight and to tie it all together, memory. Through the senses, stories of nature and conversations of the Park is stimulated and released, creating a visual mind map of each family or individual and their relationship to the environment around us.
Unless it is raining, I like to set up a little way into the boardwalk inside the Nature Park. There is a perfect little nook of benches where the community can stumble upon me around the mend. I got many inquisitive looks and laughter at finding someone painting in the middle of the park. Little sense disks were also installed between the project sign and the set-up area to lead the participants in.
The stories and personalities the community have shared has been a treasure. It is hard to describe the intricacy of how each conversation started and the turns, pauses and whirlwinds between. There was a total of 5 sessions of Story Exchange with 2-3 conversations in each depending on the duration. Young participants added their beautiful colour blobs of butterflies, flowers, and birds using watercolour and invasive plant inks. Older community members drew or told stories of the senses that stood out to them the most and their perspectives. We got participants from all over metro-Vancouver and across from Germany and Hong Kong.
Each of the 13 books will be interpreted into a little scene as part of the interactive installation called Hidden Stories on August 24. I hope to capture the personalities of the families and the individuals I met, portraying their stories through little figures to be found throughout the Nature Park. Each will hold the story given and experienced while creating further memories and interactions with the nature around us. If you are curious to see the work in progress, come by for the Open Studio on August 3rd. I will also post some sneak peaks soon.