“How can I be a maker, without first being a consumer?” Sharon Kallis began asking herself this question fifteen years ago in response to a creeping feeling of dis-ease about the materials she was using in her practice as an environmental artist. When she came face-to-face with the “monstrous hybrid” aspect of how her work was decaying in the landscape — organic materials breaking down, while the inorganic persisted and became ‘litter’ — she had to act.
Sharon’s investigation of urban, unconventional fibre sources and approaches to art and handwork began in her studio, with the wool of her beloved dog; but since Sharon is a community activist and connector at her core, her passion and skills quickly expanded into a community-wide pursuit that included the Stanley Park Ecology Society and the Vancouver Park Board, and generated the Urban Weaver Studio Project, the Aberthau Flax=Fibre+Food Project, and the Terroir: Urban Cloth Project.
FORAGE: Seasonal Fibre Series represented a new stage in the investigations; in 2017 and 2018, with support from the Vancouver Park Board, was able to share the knowledge from past projects with art and fibre enthusiasts, to empower new groups to be makers in connection with the land and continue to grow the community of ‘Urban Weavers’ in Vancouver and beyond. Land & Sea built on this work as well, expanding our understanding of local fibre and art materials to include gifts from the sea; and to turn our hearts to conversations about environmental justice.
In 2019 this work will continue as Studio & Stewardship Sessions at Trillium North Park, combining the FORAGE program with elements of the 2018 Trillium Community Dyers Club.
Tracing lines of knowledge about how to harvest and prepare fibres, and adapting techniques to use them, has truly been a community pursuit. Artists and dancers, gardeners and herbalists, weavers, knitters, spinners, scientists, ecologists and educators, from First Nations as well as settler communities, have all come together to share and contribute. Thank you, we are honoured to be the stewards of the legacy you have created.
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