Thank you to everyone who made it to the launch event this past Sunday. It was a delight to share the project with all those who dropped by. The launch was a casual meet and great, there were five touch boxes set up where participants reached in to feel objects found in nature and draw those sensations. Then they added colour to those drawings at the painting area beside it and experimented with the invasive plant inks. We also enjoyed some themed treats of butterfly cookies, blueberry tea and blackberry chocolates to tie in with the setting. Someday I hope to find newt cookies for our next event.
I loved the faces many made when feeling the objects in the boxes and the wrinkling of noses when first smelling the vinegar-based inks. There were many moments of awe, especially upon discovering the richness of the inks and their meaning. Some were surprised at the concept of the project as this approach to art was very foreign to them. That redefining of what art can be brought me great joy.
Some took time to warm up to the idea of trying something new and I was, in turn, awed by the courage taken to make that decision to try. A few opened up about their background and the beauty of being able to spend an afternoon in nature while some just watched us with smiles and acknowledgement. A bird photographer sat nearby for a couple hours, checking in on us once in a while. A few times right as he turned to converse, a hummingbird flew in right on que, causing him to miss his shot and bringing chuckles of encouragement. He redefined the word patience for me.
It was a beautiful day spent drawing, painting and chatting at the Nature Park. I felt there was something special about a space created where one can linger, discover, ponder and observe – each taking part in our own way in comprehending the community we have and the nature that surrounds us.
I am delighted to announce that The Interpreter Project is ready to engage with the community!
Throughout June and July, I have a variety of workshops and one-on-one conversations planned where we will slow down and explore the silent wonders of nature and the Nature Park. Each workshop focuses on one sense, experiencing them in a new way and interpreting them through art. The process is inspired by the Newt, taking its limited senses as an alternative way of understanding the environment around us.
The Story Exchange is a way to engage with the public in a personal level. Each conversation will be an inspiration for the upcoming interactive installation, Hidden Stories on August 24.
If you would like to participate in the project in a more casual manner:
Drop by and visit the artist at work. Conversations and feedback regarding the project are welcome. Small activities will be set up for visitors to join in and participate in preparation for Hidden Stories, the installation and the Newt legacy book.
Aug 3, Sept 7 & 14, 2019 from 1:00-3:00pm
Looking forward to meeting everyone!
I been longing to conduct and share the ink making process with the invasive plants found in Richmond Nature Park. Invasive plants are species that grows rapidly and vigorously to the extent that they crowd the native plants, taking up their space and nutrients. An easy way to understand them is thinking of them as weeds. In this case, the species are most likely brought in by birds from nearby cultivated berry farms. These cultivated plants are designed to be strong and takes over the park. As mentioned briefly in blog post 2, the Nature Park has been attempting to re-establish the native vegetation by cutting and removing these invasive species in hopes of giving others time to grow back.
Therefore, these invasive plants are perfect materials to play with and does not harm the park’s biodiversity. The park staff were kind enough to harvest some cultivated blackberry, cultivated blueberry and of course, the common dandelion for me. (A big thank you to them!)
I brought the plants home to shimmer and soak at leisure. They were promptly cut up and heated with vinegar plus a pinch of salt for preservation. To my confusion, after boiling, cooling, and an overnight soak, the liquid created little to no colour pay off. In the past, I worked with hyper-pigmented plants and flowers, guaranteeing a smooth process. This time the plants are more stems and not species known to produce saturated inks. I was considering alternative pigment additives but also adamant in aiming to preserve the true essence of the plant material.
After some more research and chemical brainstorming, I found the magic ingredient that activates low-pigmentated plant materials: sodium carbonate or commonly found in washing soda. It acts as a stain remover which logically makes sense as I am trying to extract the colour from the plants into the surrounding liquid. Its chemical compound is similar to baking soda, creating a beautiful fizz when added to the vinegar base.
I gave it another shimmer and overnight soak to be safe. Followed by extensive straining and filtering, a bit of gum arabic is added for fluidity and a clove for extra preservative; these beautifully rich inks are ready to be used for our upcoming workshops and events. Now on my walks, I do not only marvel at the colours of the vivid flowers but wonder at the possibilities hidden in the barks, the dried twigs, and the overlooked bushes in the corner.