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Gifts of Nature - a blog by me When I began my career as an artist more than 20 years ago, the process and materials were far from natural. Creating with natural materials helps me to connect with myself and with nature. Learn about some of the benefits of working with natural materials Nature of Self Art Series Nature of Self Art Series is a program designed to help individuals and groups connect to themselves, nature and each other. A great personal growth and team building exercise - perfect for corporations, non-profit organizations, networking groups and youth. Learn more about the Nature of Self Art Series. Exploring Identity @ RMG

It has been a life-long habit to spend countless hours pouring through family photographs.

I am enthralled by the expression and perception of a moment through a photo. A very interesting topic in the age of social media...

When I create art, I like to extract and add elements from photographs to give them them new life and meaning – often making images move or printing or projecting them in unlikely ways.

The art work here, "Washing Your Clothing in my Culture", was created for a group show at The Robert McLaughlin Gallery in 2000. The images are of me and my mother silk-screened on birch-veneer to appear as though we are part of the wood grain. The images have been made large wooden containers, meticulously created by piecing together layers and layers of cut-out plywood.

I was struck by the similar stance in these images – both are related to the construction of the female identity in different ways. The image of my mother (right) is of her at 16 years old carrying a basket of clothing to wash in a creek in a small village in Portugal (to scale). At 6-7 years old, I am pictured striking a familiar pin-up pose (scaled to my current height of 5 ft, 7 in).

We are three daughters in our family. My mother loved to make dresses for us and keeps  treasured dresses in a chest. Wooden dresses sit on top of the sculpture of my mother – as if she is supporting and being weighed down by aspects of the female identity. Elements of the printed dresses are embroidered, a painstaking process of drilling hundreds of holes and embroidering through the wood. The image of myself is also embroidered in the areas of the bikini. Portions of embellishments are illuminated and brought to the fore while other parts of the images appear to seep into the wood.

My age and my mother's age (at the time of creating the work) are reflected in the layers of wood of the sculptures. Mine is 28 layers deep and my mothers is 53 layers deep.

This piece is about my identity as a girl, woman and daughter and how it has been influenced by cultural standards, expectations and conditioning.

Creating can help us heal, purge blockages and see things differently. Making art empowers me to create my own identity. I hope you have a creative outlet to help you do the same.

Do you have comments or insights to share? Connect with me to let me know what you think!

Currently a garden sculpture - at one with the elements - at The Hive Centre and Stay.

*Big debt of gratitude to Artist and Mentor, Richard Toms, who was instrumental in helping me create this work.

Kabir Continued - PT2 I had a dream – I was awestruck by a person who offered me many gifts including a Saraswati Veena, a 15th century instrument. I was overcome with emotion and couldn't speak. I didn't look directly at him but noticed that he had red hair or a hat. I awoke startled and spoke the name Kabir, a 15th century Indian Mystic Poet. I found his image with a red hat and was inspired to create – a gift for my friend Shayne who introduced me to Kabir and leaves for India today. Read Part 1 - Turning to Gold Read Part 3 – Getting to Know Saraswati Read Part 4 - Can't Stop this Saga   Fun with Flowers Flowers inspire me to create mandalas. I set an intention and get lost in pattern and colour. This mandala was made with flowers from my mom. It is a gift and an offering – created with the intention to encourage successful collaboration between women and men. Business Retreat It was an absolute pleasure to host the Clarington Board of Trade for a Business Retreat at The Hive Centre. The group set intentions, explored strengths and obstacles, enjoyed a vegan meal, experienced a Shinrin Yoku/Forest Bathing session, created beautiful nature art, and participated in a closing fireside ceremony. View photos and video of the CBOT Business Retreat. Absolute Authenticity Absolute Authenticity? Well, it's a goal and I work at it. My friend, Shayne Traviss, has helped me along the way. It is a rare individual who will tell you exactly what he thinks. I came to realize that Shayne's messages were gifts and have been immeasurably helped by them as have many others. Shayne's book Your Vivid Life: An Invitation to Live a Radically Authentic Life hits is available on October 8th! Spaces and Circles I met Jothi at Community Innovation Lab where we discovered that we share similar interests in creativity, nature and community. Last month she launched HERSpace a space for women to gather, connect, express and create. It was an honour to create a Mandala to celebrate the launch. Honouring Linda On Nov 23, we will be holding an event to celebrate our friend Linda, a significant contributor to the arts and culture scene in Durham. If you would like to honour her legacy, please join us. It would have been Linda's 70th birthday Art with Heart For over a month, we honoured and remembered at The Hive. During a special day with Mayan Spiritual Guide, Nan Shuni Giron, guests created nature art to commemorate loved ones. The works were hung from a tree and later offered to the fire. View the video. Connection to Costume

The role of clothing and costume in creating identity is a significant aspect of my work. Over the course of a year, I created costumes for five characters represent archetypes of women in fairytales – queen, princess, crone, godmother and pauper. Through an interactive media-rich installation I explored the role of fairy tale and fiction in permeating perceptions of women in our culture.

Toronto Bloggers at The Hive

A magical night and day with amazing writers/artists from Toronto Bloggers Collective. We played, explored, learned and, shared. Than you for a delicious vegan meal from Copper Branch Bowmanville and Twenty 1 Desserts. Big thanks Central Counties Tourism, York Durham Headwaters & Durham Tourism and everyone who made it happen! View the video.

Holi Celebration

Sometimes special people come along and give you what you didn't know you needed. What an incredible gift from Shayne Traviss and Timm - a Holi Celebration at the Timm David Shampoo Company. It was a feast for the senses - kundalini movement, meditative music, indian cuisine, flower confetti and a community of people to celebrate with. So much gratitude. View the video.

Lennon and Maisy - A Story

On this day eight years ago, I was part of a remarkable experience that reminds me that when the time is right, the universe will conspire to make things happen and that with focused intention, hard work, love and joy, miracles can happen. Read more. #LennonandMaisy #VideosThatGoViral #RealDeal

When We Were Little

Pictures can be portals that help us ease old traumas by empathizing with the little girl or boy within. Go back to a time of difficulty from your childhood. Envision yourself speaking to the little you with understanding and compassion. This exercise can help you with self-love.

Wild Views

Coming Soon! Exploring All Things Barefoot, Wild + Free. Hosted by Shayne Traviss + Elsii Faria

Searching for Signs

Sharon Mendelaoui, Founder and Creative Director of Daily Dream 360, writes about her profound experience at The Hive.
"I had no idea that during this visit to the Hive Centre and by participating in a few spiritual ceremonies, crafts and nature walks, I’d receive so much enlightenment." Click here to read Winter Spiritual Retreat at the Hive Centre in Durham.

*Photo by Barry Best Photography.

Sweet Music at The Hive

It was quite thrilling to hear the sound of soulful music emanating from The Hive Stay in early September. A group of incredible musicians came together to get creative. Their inspired energy resulted in numerous original songs. Can't wait for the next event! 

Mandala Moment

#MandalaMoment - For all of those who bring immeasurable gifts to the #corporeal realm. Remembering with gratitude, my friend Gail.

Projects and Purpose

I always have a project on the go that helps me feel productive and purposeful. Maintaining and evolving The Hive involves continuous attention. We have been cleaning debris and clearing a portion of the forest that belongs to our property for years and years. As well, the buildings are always being updated with features that help make the guest experience as pleasing as possible. Stay tuned for the results of a recent project.

Honouring Seasons

The process of creating is very simple, and often unexpected, for me now. I like to set an intention, get out in nature, collect beautiful objects, and express creatively. This mandala moment honours the changing seasons and nature.