2017/18: Land & Sea

As the impulse towards nature connection grows, we’re aiming to find a way of tempering genuine, but often uncritical, enthusiasm for foraging and all things ‘rewilded’ with a more sophisticated understanding of its social and environmental implications. What do we remember? What have we forgotten?

Phase 1 of this project brought artists and facilitators together to do three things:

  • Form a body of research work on coastal materials and techniques that is guided by First Nations sensibilities and concerns.
  • Deepen and expand discussion about traditions in living  from the land and sea and relate that back to contemporary foraging practices and cultural use of materials through facilitated Weaving~Conversation Circles.
  • Lead workshops that introduce natural materials and foraging to the broader community through a lens of environmental justice.

Phase 1 of Land & Sea began in autumn 2017 and closed in early spring 2018. Lead Artists: Rebecca Graham and Tracy Williams; Project Coordinator: Sharon Kallis; Facilitators and Advisors: Kamala Todd, Lori Synder, Kelty McKerracher, Rebecca Duncan

Phase 2 of Land & Sea began in spring 2018 and closed at the end of September; it included Spinners Walking Clubs in Vancouver and West Vancouver, workshops in nettle processing and salmon leather with some of our community partners, and closed with the Interactive Tannery and the Local Threads: relearning, reciprocity, reconnection on Salish Land & Sea show at the Roundhouse in September 2018.

Lead Artists: Haruko Okano, Rebecca Graham, Sharon Kallis. Guest Artists: June and Charlie Pardue (Alaska), Peter Ananin (Scotland); Coordinator: Sharon Kallis; Facilitator and Advisor: Kamala Todd

EartHand Gleaners Society’s community partner for all things FISH! 


 EartHand Gleaners Society gratefully acknowledges funding for Phase 1 of Land & Sea from BC Arts Council, City of Vancouver: Cultural Services, and Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation

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An excerpt from the first grant application:

Artists from First Nation and settler backgrounds host research sessions, facilitated Weaving~Conversation Circles, workshops and events that bring together culture-shapers, policy-makers and community members.

Land & Sea research weaves together threads of five key materials and processes: fish leather, nettle, fireweed, net making, and prawn pots; these threads provide both subject and context for exploring coastal/cultural connections. Fish skins from local independent fishermen are bark-tanned into leather, a ‘new’ local material which connects us to traditional lifeways of coastal people throughout the Pacific Rim, North Atlantic, and beyond. Reawakening ancestral knowledge of how to harvest and prepare nettle and fireweed for traditional net-making acknowledges traditions shared by Chinese, Northern European and First Nations peoples. Woven prawn pot research begins a new journey, with more complex weaving, bringing us back to the sea May 2018 (Phase 2).

Complementing the research threads, Circles ask questions such as How do we respond to rising interest in rewilding to fit the cultural, municipal and environmental needs and constraints in Vancouver? Bringing together knowledge keepers, policy-, and culture-makers for both invitational and public dialogue, Circles use shared handwork experiences to shape understanding and acknowledge complexities of contemporary foraging.

Phase 1 Circles, weaving workshops, drop-in sessions and leather tanning events build new networks of learners interested in skills and knowledge in preparation for Phase 2. Then we ask, How does our relationship to land and sea translate from one place to another? Phase 2 brings together a social enterprise-based salmon skin tanner from Scotland with a master Alutiiq waterproof skin sewer from Alaska. Revealing what is shared in materials, process and techniques, we learn from each other, revitalizing traditions ~waking sleeping knowledge.  Land & Sea builds our collective understanding of place, and Vancouver’s capacity to respond to the desire for living within a rewilded urban landscape.