Sometimes the things that are the most important in our lives are the things we forget to talk about.
Occasionally I think I am guilty of this in a few different ways. But I spent the whole weekend being so damned grateful I get to do what I do; and was thankful that the weather held.( Against all odds we spent the weekend working outside in the sunshine- in Vancouver- In February….!)
I was thrilled to be working with a great group of people weaving in the garden, and to be working with my main “collaborator-in-living” David, re-designing a space we love to be in- the MOP garden.
Working with Environmental Youth Alliance, Means of Production was conceived by Oliver Kellhammer in 2002 as an open source landscape- a living public art work that would grow materials for urban artists to use in their artwork, acting as a framework for rethinking material use in contemporary art practices. I got involved in 2008 and for me; it has been a gentle transition from being strictly a gleaner for materials, to being a farmer too. A mental evolution in thinking took place.
As a child, gardening had been a form of punishment- at least it felt that way. Going and picking dandelions, helping out on the lawn- I didn’t’ see the difference between pushing a lawn mower around or planting anything, and certainly didn’t take any joy from any of it- it was just hard labour and caused me to grumble while inner pity-party dialogues ran through my brain.
It is such a different experience now!
Nothing makes me happier then working in the garden, digging things, planting things, moving things, harvesting things- both food and art crops… because MOP slowly changed me, and now I am learning to grow food too, and seem to have more than one garden that occupies my time.
But right now as MOP turns 10 years old it is getting a bit of a facelift- we are shifting the terraces on the hillside for ease of travel and land use, and making an art project out of it too- using the living willow to form shapes, sculpting the hillside into rows of columns and arches that will continue to grow and be crop producing.
This facelift kind of began because someone heard Oliver give a talk last year in New York about MOP and with a family member’s upcoming wedding here in Vancouver- thought a nice alternative gift would be to donate money to the garden for an art project.
What an amazing idea!
So simple really, but beats the hell out of another toaster oven and is a great way of both acknowledging a major event like a wedding, but also supporting the economy in a much better way than a purchase that gets measured by GDP standards.
A group of folks get to meet each other, join forces for good in creating beauty in our world, learn new skills- and artists get to pay rent! Such a win all around.
But really, as grant funding gets harder to secure it makes me think about funding for future projects.
I have struggled with this for a while as I do not want to charge participants for what I do- community access projects NEED to be free and low barrier to get folks involved- but I ( and any artist) still need to live, so looking at this kind of small scale project sponsorship feels like a good thing to look more closely at. (I will return to this idea at a later post I promise)
Meanwhile back in the garden the hillside is slowly becoming a hybrid- the garden has always been a public art piece in its own right but to many passersby it is just an odd garden that doesn’t grow food, and often looks messy and unkempt. The unkempt part I am afraid will always be an issue- really we could spend 40 hours a week there and still not stay on top of it all. But the space is holding much promise of being both a living sculpture to enjoy spending time in and an urban art farm that serves a purpose. It is interesting to even contemplate what it will look like in 2023…
In the interim, I am going to continue being inspired by the other artists around me such as Oliver, and enjoy all the opportunities I get to work with David and others who join us at MOP. If you find yourself in Vancouver, take a look at what events are happening over the next while on the MOPARRC event page- and come join us on May 26th when we celebrate the completion of the wedding weave project!
If you would like more detailed info on the process visit the flickr collection where descriptions of steps are given.