Lavender Project

I harvested some lavender from the university of Guelph campus from a flowerbed in the parking lot of Alexander Hall. I made some jelly and simple syrup with the lavender which I am then going to give to the workers who cultivate and maintain the lavender on campus.

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guerilla  harvesting lavender on campus
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processing lavender
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Making simple syrup
The final product ready for workers

Céleste Boursier-Mougenot

celeste-boursier-mougenotA living musical exhibit at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts will set 70 zebra finches loose in an aviary, and the only perches are the strings of 14 electric guitars and bass guitars.

When the birds land, they create music that’s played through amplifiers stationed around the aviary.

French artist Céleste Boursier-Mougenot calls it living music, inspired by a thought from his childhood.

“Looking through the window, my feeling was that I want to make music from these birds on the wire, and 30 years later I did this,” he said.

Visitors will be escorted in to the exhibition room 25 at a time and asked to walk calmly through the installation. They are also part of the musical creation, as the birds react to their presence.

Curator Marie-Eve Beaupré said this is a highly unusual undertaking for a museum.


Every morning, a clean-up crew tidies the room, and the birds get regular visits from a veterinarian to make sure they stay healthy.

This is the 19th time Boursier-Mougenot has created this installation. It’s travelled to New York, Paris, Milan, and  it’s making its Canadian premiere in Montreal.

The finches hail from a breeder in Thetford Mines. They’ll go back home once the exhibition closes on March 27.

A note for the musically savvy: The instruments in the installation are ten white Gibson Les Paul guitars and four black Gibson Thunderbird basses.

text via the CBC

Interview from the Peabody Essex Museum and view of installation:



The Way Of Dundas Hill (baby Camino)

This sIMG_2130ummer I embarked on the Camino de Santiago (the Way of Saint James) – a thousand-year-old  800km pilgrimage which began in Saint Jean Pied de Port in France and ended in Compostella in Spain. It was gruelling but perfect. I learnt a lot about my body and how to gently control my walking and thoughts. I accidentally left one of my orthotics in Paris before I boarded a train to Bayonne and then continued on a bus to Saint Jean Pied de Port in near tears. The next day we hiked the Pyrannes and entered Spain. After a bout of heat exhaustion and painful ankels and knees, I realized how much of this trip needed to focus on my own control and understanding of my body as I completed the 800km hike without orthotics.

For our workshop, I organized a ‘baby camino,’ which began at my home downtown and concluded at my studio on campus.  We ‘hiked’ the hill on Gordon street which was formally known as Dundas Hill. Camino means ‘way’ – so we walked the way of Dundas Hill.

We began with a small discussion of the history of pilgrimage, understanding that pilgrimage can be taken for secular and personal reasons as the Camino de Santiago is visited by thousands of people each year, only a handful of who are practising Catholics. Pilgrims were given small pilgrim’s passports which they were then asked to fill with their intentions for their walk.

discussing pilgrimage

Next everyone was asked to stand up. We noticed the ways our bodies stand naturally. Our natural imbalances. The ways our ankles curve in and our knees overextend. We acknowledged that some of these imbalances we cannot change however, we can gentle and consciously adjust the ways our knees overextend, to adjust our weight to our cores, to let the weight of our backpacks fall on our hips as opposed to our shoulders.

Thirdly we walked slowly, to follow our natural gaits. To pay attention to the way our body wants to move. Understanding that in one kilometre we cannot change everything about our gaits. Perhaps we can honour the way our body wants to move naturally.

consciously walking, honouring our natural gait

Fourthly, we paid attention to our breath. Following the natural rhythms of our breaths in tune with our natural gait. We walked slowly to pay attention to our bodies. We would focus on these processes when we walked.

Before we began to walk we consciously focused our minds on the processes of our bodies. This is what we would focus on when walking. Other thoughts on midterm papers and art critiques would be gently pushed out of our minds when we walked. We weren’t going to talk. The way is personal for everyone. We were going to focus on ourselves.

We began walking in silence. Across Wellington Street, up Gordon.

crossing Wyndham Street
at the top of Dundas Hill

We completed our walk at my studio with some coffee to break our silence. Pilgrims showed their passports and talked about their intentions for their pilgrimage. Did they find what they were looking for? Some said yes, others were unsure.

outside my studio post-camino

We discussed our findings and decided we had a Buen Camino.

Tulsi or Holy Basil

I’ve been purchasing Holy Basil or Tulsi from the organic market on campus for a few years. After Andrew and I visited the Organic Farm on campus for our club research and we were able to help harvest and prep produce for the market, we decided to make some Tulsi tea with fresh herbs sourced on campus to share with the outdoor school class. A number of students enjoyed and were interested in the healing properties of Tulsi or Holy Basil – so here’s some information:

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tulsi or holy basil (Ocimum sanctum)

While basil is found on every continent, tulsi or holy basil (Ocimum sanctum) is indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. It is a bushy shrub that grows to about 18 inches in height. Its leaves are oval and serrated, with colors ranging from light green to dark purple, depending on the variety. In the wild, tulsi is an annual, but it can be kept as a perennial by trimming it before it forms seeds. The plant has delicate lavender-colored flowers, and its fruit consists of tiny rust-colored nuts.

Often referred to as holy basil, Tulsi is a potent herb that has been used in India for thousands of years to treat colds, coughs, and flu. According to Ayurveda**, tulsi promotes purity and lightness in the body, cleansing the respiratory tract of toxins and relieving digestive gas and bloating. Tulsi leaves offer a rich source of essential oil, containing eugenol, nerol, camphor, and a variety of terpenes and flavonoids. The oil is a strong antiseptic against many kinds of disease-causing organisms, including bacteria, fungi, and parasites.
In terms of the Ayurvedic doshas, tulsi carries the bitter, pungent, and astringent tastes and generates a warming influence on the physiology. The herb is predominantly Kapha-reducing, but it can also be used to pacify Vata and Pitta. However, it can have a mildly Pitta-aggravating effect in individuals who are severely overheated.

Tulsi has spiritual as well as medicinal significance in Ayurveda. In Hindu mythology, the plant is an incarnation of the goddess Tulsi, offering divine protection. Many Indian families keep a living Tulsi plant in their homes – tending to it with great care and reverence. The plant’s woody stalks are often made into beads used in meditation malas or rosaries.

Tulsi Tea:

If you are looking for Tulsi as a pre-packaged tea it can be found in tea bags in a number of stores in Guelph. A good place to start would be the Stone Store or to visit New Age. If you would like the plant fresh – visit the Orangic Market Thursdays on campus (while there is still harvest) 3-6pm near Rozanski and purchase a bunch for $1.50. I ‘process’ the herbs by separating the flowers and leaves and drying them in baskets. I use the leaves for cooking and the flowers for tea. Alternatively you can hang the whole bunch upside down in your kitchen and just break off what you need.

tulsi tea

** For anyone unfamiliar with Ayurveda – it is is a 5,000-year-old system of natural healing that has its origins in the Vedic culture of India.

Machine Project: Houseplant Vacation

Machine Project self determines as firstly a storefront in Los Angeles, but also an informal educational institution, and a loose group of artists and collaborators, but also an incorporated non-profit functioning on donations, members and volunteers . In 2010 they embarked on a humorous project called Houseplant Vacation at the Hammer Museum which was much in line with our practice in Outdoor School with Diane.

Houseplant Vacation: 

From their website, machine project describes their project below:

The Hammer invites you to give your houseplant a vacation during our August Cultural Retreat for Plants. Throughout the entire month participants plants will be installed in the light flooded linbrook terrace, and presented with a series of readings, performances and musical events for plants. Plant portraiture provided by Lisa Anne Auerbach. We will provide a dedicated (one-way and auto-answering) phone line connected to a loudspeaker should you wish to call in and speak to your plants.

* Saturday July 31st 11am to 5pm: Drop off at the Hammer Museum and plant portrait photography
* Saturday August 7th 1-4pm: Musical performances, dramatic readings, and psychic plant healing
* Friday August 13th 11pm-Midnight Plant Pornography screening (no humans allowed, sorry)
* Saturday August 14th 1-4pm: Musical performances, poetry, and psychic plant healing
* Saturday August 21st 1-4pm: Musical performances, historical accounts of botanical exploration and psychic plant healing
* Saturday August 28th 11am to 6pm: Plant pick up at the Hammer Museum

Reminder: Plant drop off is July 31, 11am-6pm and pick up Saturday August 28, 11am-6pm ONLY! (Please no sick/infested plants – this is a vacation, not rehab.)

Please email with the subject line “I’m bringing my plant” so that we can get an idea of how many plants we will be checking in for the month. (We will not respond to your email, this is for plant count only!)

You can download the plant release waiver and fill it out before you come to the museum or you can do this when you drop off your plant.

You can also download a selection of readings compiled by Joshua Beckman to be read to plants, entitled  “Poems and prose for potted plants”Poems and prose for potted plants“.

Tarot card readings were provided for each plant on vacation by Kristina Faragher, available to view here.


Guelph Centre for Urban Organic Farming

The Guelph centre for Urban Organic Farming consists of one hectare of research and teaching land and was established by the Ontario Agriculture College and the Department of Plant Agriculture at the University of Guelph. Through the center, students take courses focused on food production, food security and environmental health and so much more. Volunteers are welcome to lend a hand and learn a little bit about urban organic farming. Each Thursday the farm hosts an organic market where they sell organic produce grown on campus to students and the community 3-6pm near Rozanski Hall.  Outdoor-schooler-s Andrew and Sonali joined the food production course in the harvest frenzy last thursday before the market.They jived with lady bugs for some of the last sweet raspberries of the season.


Sonali is interested in our connections to the processes which nourish us and keep us alive. She feels that food production, particularly small scale organic food production is the answer to how we can feed ourselves and each other. As artists interested in process she found the farm a great place of inspiration as her hands moved and the wheels in her brain turned on topics of consumption, accessibility, education, and labour.


Andrew found that farming really gave him the opportunity to learn what it’s like to grow and collect your own food. Through this experience he learned a lot about how much minuet detail goes into the collection and possessing of natural homegrown foods. This showed him how it takes a team effort to accomplish such a wonderful goal.




They ate some of their rewards and finished the day with bunching shallots and ripping up tomato plants.

Kent Monkman

Kent Monkman is a Canadian artist of Cree ancestry who works with a variety of mediums, including painting, film/video, performance, and installation. He has had solo exhibitions at numerous Canadian museums including the Montreal Museum of Fine Art, the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art in Toronto, the Winnipeg Art Gallery, and the Art Gallery of Hamilton. He has participated in various international group exhibitions including: The American West, at Compton Verney, in Warwickshire, England, Remember Humanity at Witte de With, Rotterdam, the 2010 Sydney BiennaleMy Winnipeg at Maison Rouge, Paris, and Oh Canada!, MASS MOCA. Monkman has created site specific performances at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, The Royal Ontario Museum, and at Compton Verney, he has also made Super 8 versions of these performances which he calls “Colonial Art Space Interventions.” His award-winning short film and video works have been screened at various national and international festivals, including the 2007 and 2008 Berlinale, and the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival. His work is represented in numerous public and private collections including the National Gallery of Canada, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Museum London, The Glenbow Museum, The Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, The Mackenzie Art Gallery, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian and the Vancouver Art Gallery.
Taxonomy of the European Male: 

Performance — 2005
Compton Verney, Warwickshire, UK

Miss Chief recruits two European Males as specimens in her ongoing study of the European male in his natural habitat. Unwittingly she has stumbled upon Robin Hood and Friar Tuck who, after a contest of bows and arrows and a little figure modeling, prove to be more than she can handle.

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