Arts / Guide to UBCO

Collaborating with Mother Nature

September 11th, 2017

Cultivating community awareness to bees through the love of art

Curtis Woodcock

Curtis Woodcock

Under a warm orange hue, a red sun, and in a quiet corner of nature it was the perfect setting for learning something that could come in handy if the world as we know it were to end. Artist Jaymie Johnson created the Bee-Decking the Meadow project as part of a thread of environmentally-focused, community-engaged public art projects, centered around fostering community and citizen scientists at specific pollinator pasture sites.  The project is directly inspired by the blackberry fibre installation that Sharon Kallis led in Richmond, BC last summer, during which Jaymie was her mentee. This public art and pollinator pasture work is happening under the organization Border Free Bees.

The first evening of the interactive art exhibit has come to a close as the sun set on Wednesday, and it was a spiritual experience. Collectively connecting with nature alongside a group of about a dozen creative souls was so rewarding. Learning new ideas about crafting items from materials that you could find in nature is becoming surprisingly more and more useful. The beautiful gathering was accompanied by some wonderful music for auditory nourishment.

Unfortunately, the “Parks Alive” event was cancelled due to the potential fire hazard that the equipment posed which could give off sparks and start a very much unneeded fire. It seemed to work out for the better as the musical guest, Nils Loewen, was a beautiful accent to such an intimate evening. A cellist and guitar player, originally from Winnipeg Manitoba, he moved to Kelowna in 2013. Once set up he closed his eyes and was very much in the flow of his musical gift to us. He played familiar songs that the group softly sang along to. Jaymie clearly showed her passion for nature by using what mother earth has given to create wonderful tools for art and survival. She also conveyed to the group how we can create things using nature that benefit other species that we cohabitate with on this planet.

 

 “It’s exciting to have young passionate people interested in preserving such an invaluable insect to humanities survival.”

 

Jaymie excels in her interdisciplinary endeavours. Exploring the connection between ecology, art, creating community engagement, and using artistic methods such as sculpture, printmaking, as well as fibre processing with plant and earth materials. If her art ventures weren’t impressive enough she also has her BFA from Emily Carr, and has worked closely with the chART collective and is a project assistant with “Border Free Bees”. It’s exciting to have young passionate people interested in preserving such an invaluable insect to humanities survival. She will be moving to Vernon after the project wraps up to be the Fresh Air artist in residence for a couple months at the Caetani Cultural Centre.

Sharon Kallis was also in attendance. Jaymie had apprenticed with her and learned skills such as utilizing Blackberry fiber for thread, cordage processing and community engagement methods. Sharon is based in Vancouver B.C where she involves the community in connecting traditional hand techniques with invasive plant species as well as garden waste. She creates site-specific installations that become ecological interventions and spreads her love not only at home but also in the United States, Ireland, Mexico, and Spain. She has published a book called Common Threads: weaving community through eco-art, which is published by New Society Publishers.

If you would like to come see the completed masterpiece it will be installed in the pollinator pasture at Brent’s Grist Mill Heritage Park. It will wrap up with a final celebration on Monday, September 4 consisting of live music, bannock, and refreshments. It will run from 9:30 am until 12:30 pm. Come enjoy a celebration of giving back to the bees, after all, they give so much to us.

Curtis Woodcock

Curtis Woodcock

Curtis Woodcock

Curtis Woodcock

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