Planning for Spring events heats up

Early warmth has brought everything out of hibernation- including us. Just because you haven’t heard much of late from Urban Cloth doesn’t mean nothing is going on- just the opposite, and thought it time to post a bit of what we are up to.

fall workshops…

For our Hastings Urban Farm  component:

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The results of various community fibre processing, blending, and spinning workshops have now been dyed with natural dye made from various pollinator friendly plants- all shades of yellow keeping to our bee theme… then we began waxing the line with wax from the Hasting Urban Farm hives- OUR OWN WAXED LINEN LINE AT LAST!

Spool knitting on handmade frames

Spool knitting on handmade frames

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first little beeskep sculptures completed at the downtown east-side women’s centre

workshops are taking place in the area  to  crochet and knit the waxed line into ‘pollinator-friendly-zone markers’

Our next workshop happens with the Hastings Urban Farm community hive-keepers on March 23- and a few workshop dates are yet to be confirmed.

We have settled on June 6th as the final celebration for the Hastings project component– when the markers will be up along Hastings Street. Sarah Common from Hives for Humanity will led us that day on a walk of the street, sharing why certain areas are noteworthy as pollinator friendly zones. We will end up back at Hastings Urban Farm for tea  and a special presentation that features some of the performative research that has been a part of this project.

Mirae's new dance shoes- the final fitting

Mirae’s new dance shoes- the final fitting

Events are also planned now for this Spring at Trillium North, specifically as the dance and fibre research finds a rooted connection literally through our feet.

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cedar bark and daylily- a hybrid of traditional and introduced plant fibres…

This began back in a early winter group studio date- when Tracy took off on the idea of weaving a pair of shoes…

Suddenly shoes seemed full of potential.

I pushed my weaving skills, and woven a pair that fit Mirae with the idea she could dance in them- then leave them somehow in the landscape as a trace of our actions.

daylily, stinging nettle, new zealand flax and willow bark- the fibers from Means of Production Garden

daylily, stinging nettle, new zealand flax and willow bark- the fibers from Means of Production Garden

Now, we push to find a shoe design and method that can be taught to new weavers in a limited amount of time for use with community dancers who will make their own for wearing and dancing. Rebecca Graham has led me to a traditional Japanese style flip flop that looks promising- using rope we would make, and simple weaving in a method similar to  a back-strap loom… more research  to come!

gathering our gestures – a report from the dance process

The world turns around us – the world of sight, sound, texture, smell – and when we stop to listen, it is inside us after-all. The dance is stillness – or at least quiet – as we are always resonating, a community of sensation.

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Apples at Means of Production: traces of human activity in the garden

A few years back, my husband and I arrived home to Vancouver after three years of travel. We had been literally around the world, always travelling east from our point of origin.  It had been a whirlwind trip and a very necessary adventure.  Arriving home, I had a deeper context with which to reform my sense of this place.  And, as a dancer, I had to ask myself: what are dances that come from this place, this land? Terroir is a rich opportunity to begin this investigation, and in these early stages we have explored a variety of dance activities: using sensation as a means to map place, cultivating gestures based on the movements of labour, listening and moving in resonance with sounds, gathering textures and drawing traces of their rhythms.

As we engage with gathering, spinning, cultivating and processing, I am especially fascinated with our hands – their articulate ability to work and express.   So, at our weekly sessions, we have been creating gestures based on natural textures and environmental sounds.  We have also been learning to spin with wheels and drop spindles, and assisting with some general garden maintenance.  Working from the memory of these tasks, we have been creating expressive movements with our hands and transforming them into new gestures through improvisation.   These gestures will be gathered and combined to form a dance for the hands, one that tells the story of our process.

Texture mapping at Hastings Urban Farm

Texture mapping at Hastings Urban Farm

We are now moving past the first harvest and into the late summer and autumn, we will begin to investigate our footsteps and pathways through our garden spaces as we tend and collect our crops. And, we will start to look at patterning based on weaving. We have some spun fibres to work with and when stretched-out between two or more people, there is lots of potential for a weaving dance that displays the length of fibre produced by our wheels.

Fence at Means of Production: an inspiration for movement following weaving & natural rhythms

Fence at Means of Production: an inspiration for movement following weaving & natural rhythms

And of course, we are accompanied by our spinning wheels. We are currently working on ways to transform them into percussive machines – the sound of spinning becomes a gentle and meditative noise, highlighting the cyclical and repetitive nature of work, peppered with human variation in speed, and our need for mistakes, discussion, breaks … With more than one wheel going, the syncopation becomes a kind of free-jazz machine song.  For me, the sound invokes images of slow and deliberate movement, dances which are meditative and connected.

We will see how our dances shape-up in the coming month of August.  There are an exciting number of themes to explore as we trace the activities associated with urban cloth production.  How they begin to form will be shaped by our collaboration – with each other and with the sun, rain, plants, animals, tools, passers-by, traffic … all those elements which create the social and environmental fabric of Terroir. – Mirae

Tuesday nights

Lots of discovery and fun has been happening as we get things under way. Ideas are blossoming as fast as the gardens are growing- Spring is a good time to start a project.

Tracy shows us a hand-powered drill  that functions like a drop spindle

Tracy shows us a hand-powered drill that functions like a drop spindle

All the beds are seeded, and many are sprouting

Katrina from EYA helps walk the flax seeds into the soil at the MOP bed

Katrina from EYA helps walk the flax seeds into the soil at the MOP bed

Tracy and I do our first survey of the MOP native tree section, its great to rediscover plants I haven’t visited for a few seasons. This will be the first year we ever harvest or focus our energy on this area of the garden. Many plants trigger stories  for Tracy that she has heard from her elders, so she takes sample clippings of the ocean spray and Indian Plum.

 the Indian Plum pitch can be used for waterproofing, hmmm..

the Indian Plum pitch can be used for waterproofing, hmmm..

We spend some time processing  local new zealand flax and  spin some fibre

Christi's first spinning!

Christi’s first spinning!

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the drop spindle on the right allowed us to spin our fibres quickly for binding rocks and sticks as new spinners…

And then we bind rocks to arbutus sticks with our spun fibre, so we have drop spindles made from the land for future spinning.