How do nature and culture interact? Well, usually over lunch or dinner. When I first proposed this exhibition, I envisioned a cross-pollination between craftspeople and members of Nature Vancouver, the city’s natural history society. As a member of both organizations, I felt we could put our heads together to generate new and meaningful work. The Craft Council of B.C. represents some of the province’s most remarkable creative people; going for a walk with Nature Vancouver members is like being accompanied by a living library.
Barbara Heller, Eleanor Hannan and I, textile artists, along with Bengül Kurtar, Elena Klein, Sheila Byers and Teresa Gagné, natural history champions, have met three times for lively dinners as a group and more often in pairs, discussing wide ranging aspects of art and issues around ecology. Exactly HOW we would proceed was a bumpy process, grouping into pairs and slowly getting to know each other. A simple rubric was agreed upon: we would introduce each other to an artist we admire, would go for a walk outdoors or to a museum, the artist would invite the NV person to play with craft materials. More questions about collaboration nagged. Who does what? How will the work be informed? How will the resulting piece incorporate the discussions and correspondence?
It is a great leap of faith, to work with a stranger, from an unfamiliar discipline. Trepidations trotted out. But already there is a mutual respect, doors opening to new metaphors, imagery and terminology. Eleanor has new hiking boots for adventures with Bengül. Elena has gathered serotinous pinecones to show Barbara. Sheila and I pore over local sea creatures. Teresa decorates my inbox with her photos, video clips and excel spreadsheets detailing creatures relevant to our theme. The learning curve accelerates.