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.