Helping local ecosystems stay healthy is also a way to make art, as Sharon Kallis demonstrates at a Port Moody weed-pulling workshop. Tenacious vines become sturdy hand-woven containers, as participants reconnect with nature through traditional techniques.
In Kyle Park in Port Moody, a group is removing invasive plants with plans other than disposing of them. Artist Sharon Kallis is enthusiastically digging in the dirt… and delighted with what she finds.
“You can see here there’s this massive matrix of vines, This is where pulling ivy is so fabulous.”
Giving Plants Purpose
“Something that is an invasive species doesn’t have a purpose, doesn’t have a place within our ecology,” says Kallis. “We can change that and make it something that has a purpose or a use. Then it has somewhere to go within that waste stream. Once it’s removed we get to do something with it.”
The Port Moody Arts Centre has hired Sharon to lead an invasive plant weaving workshop.
“Its really important for us to bring the community into the arts centre but also important people to bring arts out into the community and out into nature,” says Port Moody Arts Centre Program Coordinator Sandra Niven. “So it’s all part of a broader community idea that everyone is connected to nature and in some ways connected to art as well.”
Expressing with Invasives
“Peoples’ personalities start to express themselves,” notes Kallis. “It’s a way of reconnecting with those traditional methods of working with our hands. But it also creates this intermediary step of what we can do with those materials which we otherwise don’t want. My approach is to take unwanted materials such invasive plant species and repurpose them into weaving materials and have that as a chance to teach different hand technologies and weaving traditions with those invasive plants.
Sharon’s art and philosophy reflects the urban nature of the region in which she works.
“The big thing for me is that opportunity to reconnect to the land in a city in the urban environment. We don’t need to get into cars and drive out into the country into the forest to have that moment in nature. You can actually find that moment in nature in a city park, or in a ravine, or somewhere where invasives are growing.”
Connecting with Regional Arts Events
Programs like this, which connect nature and art, reflect the ecological connection between many residents and arts venues in the region. Metro Vancouver supports arts and culture with ‘Max Guide’ a free online listing of the region’s events, shows, reviews and more.
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