I consider the act of gathering materials a performance and cooking and gardening as a mode of research for making art. Painting with natural dyes brings about ideas of preservation, heritage, time, place, and memory. As a person of partial Aboriginal heritage who uses natural materials, I feel it is important for me to talk about the politicized landscape through food preserving, natural dye making, and memory of family and place.
Painting with natural dyes on watercolour paper is a way to disperse memory over a surface and bring attention to the water from the land by using collected snow and rainwater. It is important that a natural dyer be cautious of one’s use of resources and the environmental footprint they leave behind. Natural dyes are handmade by boiling and cooking the fruits and plants to extract the plant’s colour. They are stored in jars, typically used for making jellies, jams, and sauces. These natural dyes are made from plants that connect to my personal memories of home, including materials such as crabapples, blueberries, and marigolds. My work also reflects upon water as a cultural symbol to place, and a significant symbol to indigenous people that inhabit the land. Repetitive wetting and drying of dye on the paper allows for indulgence in slow bodily motions through the printing of marks made by hands, feet, and paintbrushes made of my own hair.
As a process-based artist, the process of making becomes the artwork and is also the motivation to create. I think about all aspects of the making process, each part equally as important, just like following a family recipe. In my current work I am exploring ways to become more sustainable, such as gaining an understanding of where my resources are coming from and what I am using as an artist. Gardening and harvesting local plant life as well as making my own working tools has become an approach for me to create in a more ecological way. The emphasis of food and place reoccurs through much of my work, which reflects on the memory of home, use of natural resources, and Aboriginal heritage.