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The Weleda Company created a video about their new demonstration garden featuring the dresses I made for them. It is in German but it tells the story visually by showing the garden and how they process the Calendula plants onsite. I make a brief appearance at the end talking about the dresses I made, plus footage of the models wearing the Wild Rose Dress and the Pomegranate Dress.

 

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In June 2014 I was invited by the Weleda Company to create botanical garments for the Landesgarten Show, Between Heaven and Earth, in Schwäbisch Gmünd, Germany. Weleda has just opened a new garden complex in this area and my work for them was part of the opening events for this new site.  Weleda makes organic beauty and medicinal products based on the Biodynamic© farming concepts begun by Dr. Rudolph Steiner in 1921 and this new 56 acre demonstration garden/farm was a fantastic place to be! The State Garden show was throughout the town but concentrated near the Weleda garden site and around the beautiful Villa Hirzel hotel I was staying in. I made 5 dresses that incorporated the natural ingredients that Weleda uses in their products. 2 dresses, one featuring the Rose and one made with Pomegranate were worn by models at a press event. The other 3 were on dress forms and installed in the garden. I of course took lots of photos, so enjoy! See all the photos on my Flickr page.

Detail of model wearing the Wild Rose dress

 

A collar of fresh oats from the Weleda garden

A collar of fresh oats from the Weleda garden

The Mobile Garden Dress, part of the Urban Foragers series, participated in the first Eco Art Fest in Toronto during the summer of 2014. This new outdoor festival situated at Todmorden Mills is presented by No 9 Contemporary Art and the Environment, an arts orga­ni­zation that uses art and design to bring awareness to envi­ron­mental concerns. It featured 8 public art installations hidden throughout the site, live music, homemade organic dishes, beer and wine. Plus Public Art tours, Watercolour Painting Workshops, Sustainable building workshops, and Clay Stein Making. The Mobile Garden Dress was on hand at all the events onsite and she also traveled around the city to the Brick Works Farmer’s Market, the Taste of the Danforth and to Queen Street. It’s been a busy summer for this Urban Nomad! The dress was worn by several models whom i met and trained at the beginning of the project. Special thanks to horticulturalists Deena Del Zotto, Rachel Kimel and Wendy Woodworth for growing and taking care of the plants!

Mobile GArden Dress hits the streets of Toronto

Mobile Garden Dress roams the streets of Toronto

MGD on site near the stage at the Eco Art Fest

MGD on site near the stage at the Eco Art Fest

 

The Urban Foragers got together for the first time as a group to share a communal meal made from the food sources they each carry in their self sufficient dresses. The Mobile Garden Dress, aka Madame Jardin, The Nomadik Harvest Dress, aka Miss Cornucopia and the new kid on the block, The Traveling SeedBomb Dress, aka Agent SeedBomb got together at California State University Fullerton for the Ego Eco exhibition at the Begovich Gallery. The day began with the dresses walking around campus and interacting with students about sustainable food practices and also promoting the exhibiton. They then settled into the courtyard in the Visual Arts Department where they set up camp for the day. Madame Jardin and Miss Cornucopia helped Agent SeedBomb set up her teepee and then they began preparing the meal. They traded foods to enhance each others recipes and each created a dish to be shared. The Mobile Garden Dress made a salad from the veggies in her over 40 potted plants hanging from her hoop skirt  and added pomegranate seeds from the NomadiK Harvest dress. The Harvest dress in turn borrowed fresh herbs from the Garden dress to add to the soup she made from the many vegetables harvested from the Fullerton Arboretum. She also made a tasty fruit salad topped with Coconut from the SeedBomb dress. As it was her first time making food, the SeedBomb dress prepare a simple dish of energy snacks by crushing nuts and seeds with a mortar and pestle and rolling them into balls. She also shared some of her fresh sprouts for the salad. After inviting friends to join them in their communal meal, they told stories while soaking their feet in the pool and then later retired, each to it’s own comfy little shelter to bed down for the night. The event was held beside  Richard Turner’s “Wall Gazing Gallery”, a open structure with a corrugated roof with water falling from it into a pool surrounded by peach coloured Bougainvillea trees.

The whole process was filmed and is now available to view here or click on the You Tube icon to watch in your browser.

The Urban Foragers camp

The Urban Foragers camp

Credits:
Agent Seedbomb: Alice Tokunaga
Ms Cornucopia: Andrea Harris-McGee
Madame Jardin: Megan Eras
Artist and photographer: Nicole Dextras
Videographer: Kirk Dickinson
Curators: Emily Tyler, Allison Town
Makeup: Dusty Germano
Support crew: Gaby Castillo, Marty Lorigan, Martha Rocha, Mark Uspon
Special Thanks to the Fullerton Arboretum Staff and Lou Arnwine

Agent SeedBomb is the name of the character who wears the Traveling SeedBomb Dress; an eco agent-provocateur with good humour and style, advocating for self-sufficiency through food independence and sustainable practices.

The dress houses 50 glass vials filled with enough seed to plant over an acre of vegetables, grains and herbs to feed a family for one year, which were purchased from the Sustainable Seed Company in California. In this role, Agent SeedBomb aims to inform viewers on the identification and preservation of seeds while also engaging the community in activities such as seed bomb making and sidewalk stenciling with grains. In addition to being and avid sprout grower, he or she prepares delicious protein snacks from recipes using mostly seeds and nuts.

This piece was developed for the Ego Eco exhibition at Cal State University in Fullerton California during the month of August 2013 and it was joined by its sister pieces for the first Urban Forager communal meal. The Foragers set up camp beside Richard Turner’s “Wall Gazing Gallery”, an environmental sculpture reminiscent of Asian shrines found along country roads and they prepared dishes with produce supplied by the adjacent Fullerton Arboretum. The dress was then installed in the Begovich Gallery for the duration of the exhibition. On opening night Agent SeedBomb, played by Alice Tokunaga  gave out Seed Money (seed embedded paper coins by Leafcutter Designs) to the public. I love their thoughtful designs and was very happy to incorporate it into the project.

View full Art Statement: The Traveling Seedbomb Art State

This dress is made for traveling and throwing seed bombs.

This dress is made for traveling and throwing seed bombs.

The Traveling SeedBomb Dress is the third instalment in the Urban Foragers series. Like its predecessors, the Mobile Garden Dress and the Nomadik Harvest Dress, it functions as a garment, a shelter and a food source. As this series is about self-sufficiency, each new piece refers to a nomadic structure and for this one i chose the teepee because the shape resembles a Pine cone.  I am fascinated by the ingenious ways that plants propagate their seeds and so i have tried to incorporate this into the design as much as possible. There are cone shaped pockets all around the edge, which hold seed bombs, which were placed within easy reach of the wearer so they could be thrown while moving about.

The structure is based on a series of hinged cedar pieces, which when folded down make up the skirt and when extended they form the teepee shape. I have used metal bolts and wing nuts as a means to hinge and tighten the segments. My intent is to someday replace these with a more organic material but for now they at least only require a small screwdriver to assemble. The skirt is covered in heavy duct canvas hand painted with a dandelion motif, a symbol of highly effective plant survival and endurance. Our agent of propagation also wears a secondhand vest adorned with épaulettes of fresh Wheat Grass and a hat formed from a bamboo birdcage with birdseed.

I looked at many options for displaying the seeds and finally decided on the glass vial because I want the public to be able to see the seeds clearly so they can learn to identify them. I created a wire cage for each one, 50 in all and hung them between the struts with linen thread. I also attached some glass globes and green cans, which have holes in them to facilitate the daily rinsing of seeds for sprouting.

Traveling SeedBomb dress set up in Begovich Gallery

Traveling SeedBomb dress set up in Begovich Gallery

The Mobile Garden Dress, part of the Urban Foragers series made 2 appearances during my StoreFront, objects of desire installation at the Lansdowne Centre in Richmond. The dress was animated by Nita Bowerman, who invited people to water the edibles in her skirt, talk gardening and then make a salad. If the shopping centre is the new community church then camping in a dress covered in edible plants is a great way to bring people together and bring some genuine connection to the retail experience.

 

Madame Jardin comes to life inside the StoreFront window display.

Madame Jardin comes to life inside the StoreFront window display.

Big and small help water the dress' garden.

Big and small help water the dress’ garden.

Engaging with shoppers about gardening and food production.

Engaging with shoppers about gardening and food production.

Sweet cherry tomatoes; Comparing the store bought version to the organic plant.

Sweet cherry tomatoes; Comparing the store bought version to the organic plant.

Once out of her skirt, Madame Jardin unhooks her bamboo bowl to begin preparing her lunch.

Once out of her skirt, Madame Jardin unhooks her bamboo bowl to begin preparing her lunch.

Picking tender purple cabbage leaves

Picking tender purple cabbage leaves

Community salad; everyone   shares in the experience.

Community salad; everyone shares in the experience. Salad ingredients include lettuce, basil, chives, cabbage, peppers and cherry tomatoes.

Food tastes much better on polkadot plates!

Food tastes much better on polkadot plates!

The Mobile Garden Dress comes to life inside the StoreFront window display

The Mobile Garden Dress comes to life inside the StoreFront window display

Sharing salad with shoppers

Sharing salad with shoppers

Madame Jardin and her friends take a nap in her skirt/tent

The salad has been made and eaten and so Madame Jardin invite some of her new friends into her skirt/tent to tell stories and take a nap.

The Nomadik Harvest Dress, part of the Urban Foragers series was part of the Flatlanders and Surface Dwellers exhibition at 516 Arts in Albuquerque New Mexico. Curator Lea Anderson invited me to come down and give a talk about my work and so I took the opportunity to also have the Ms Cornucopia, this time embodied by Korie Tatum, cook up a dish of Cholla cactus buds. I met with local native plant forager, Amy White, who took me out to gather plants, which was the highlight of my trip. We also went out to the desert to take some photos of the dress in it’s natural habitat. Special thanks to Rhiannon Mercer Simpler and her husband Trent for having us in their home and also to Marge and Wolf for letting us onto their land. I had been to ABQ a few years ago for the Land Art Symposium and since then i had imagined one of my pieces in this sparse but rich landscape. Thank you to all who helped make this vision possible. Go to this Flickr page to see more photos and Special thanks to gallery assistants Teresa Buscemi and Claude Smith, who took photos and brewed up a large pot of Navajo Tea for the event. View video of the Tohono O’odham picking Cholla, one of the desert’s super foods.

Nomadik Harvest Dress in the Desert

Nomadik Harvest Dress camping and foraging for local native plants in the New Mexico desert

Cholla buds taste like a cross between and artichoke and asparagus. They have a slippery texture like okra or aloe verra.

Cholla buds taste like a cross between and artichoke and asparagus. They have a slippery texture like okra or aloe verra.

Cholla stir fry with veggies. Local and nutritious.

Cholla stir fry with veggies. Local and nutritious.

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Nomadik Harvest Dress with Lorraine Matheson Heidi

The Nomadik Harvest Dress was completed during a 2 week art residency at the McMichael Art Gallery in June 2012 in collaboration with the Fashionality Exhibition. This wearable architecture is the second piece in the Urban Foragers {house of eco drifters} series, which began with the Mobile Garden Dress. The design is based on the yurts I experienced while in Mongolia. The skirt is created from a folding bamboo fence and Willow struts sewn into a wool waistband.  The traditional felt outer covering is replaced with crazy quilt of woollen sweaters, which have been shrunken and dyed. The covering contains over 40 pockets that are meant to hold the plant materials gathered by the dress wearer. The skirt also acts as a shelter for camping in cooler weather and it also carries a portable Butane stove, pot and utensils for cooking the veggies. The piece was presented during the Canada Day festivities at the McMichael and animated by Lorraine Matheson Heidi, who interacted with visitors about the local edible plants in her dress.The NHD, animated by Nita Bowerman  was presented at the Sustenance Festival in Vancouver, where we made a soup with local vegetables and shared it with the public. Special thanks to Fred at the McMichael for teaching me about the local plants.

Nomadik Harvest Soup

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La Robe Jardin Mobile (The Mobile Garden Dress) was in Montreal this spring for the Rendez-vous Horticole garden show at the Montreal Botanical Garden. Dji Haché animated the dress for 3 days and her enthusiasm was infectious with the thousands of people who came through and watered her plants and tasted her herbs. These were selected and donated by Josée Archambault  of Les Aromes du Petit Coteau.

The month of May was also the time of nightly demonstrations on the streets of Montreal, which became known as Les Casseroles. We heard about lawyers actually protesting so we took La Robe Jardin Mobile to the streets and handed them flowers as a gesture of support. It was fantastic to see all these daisies in hair and lapels amongst the black robes of the law.

The Jardin Mobile as a tent

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