And We’re Off!

Today I went with my husband to pick up the plywood to make the supports for the Rare Beasts project. After doing some research, I opted to use 6 mm Baltic Birch which I purchased from a wholesaler in Montreal. Baltic Birch has the advantage of being very durable, fine grained, and smooth. It resists chips and does not splinter. In short, it is an ideal support surface for artwork. Here is the stack of plywood sheets in my woodworker husband’s workshop, waiting to be cut into the correct sizes for the collage supports.

BalticBirch

Each panel will be braced with poplar to prevent the panels from warping. My husband suggested poplar because it is strong and light, both of which are considerations when making a series of fairly large artworks which will be exhibited over several years and will need to be moved from place to place.

I know it just looks like a stack of plywood, but I am excited!

 

Rare Breeds: A Renaissance!

Recently I was invited to attend the Rare Breeds Renaissance Conference to be held on June 10-12, 2016, in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia. This conference is being organized by Rare Breeds Canada, a not for profit organization devoted to the conservation and promotion of rare breeds of livestock.

RBC Renaissance

I have been asked to be participate in a panel discussion on the importance of art in the promotion of rare breeds. One of the objectives of my Rare Beasts art project is to raise public awareness about the loss of biodiversity in agriculture, so I am looking forward to this panel discussion and conference and whatever inspiration might arise from them. It will also be nice to connect with other artists who share my interest in rare breeds.

 

In addition to the panel discussion, I have been invited to exhibit some of my artwork as part of a Rare Breeds themed group exhibition. The conference will be held at the Ross Creek Centre of the Arts.  The gallery space looks quite nice!

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Click the links for more information about Rare Breeds Canada and the Ross Creek Centre of the Arts. Tickets for the conference are available here.

The Rare Beasts List (So Far)

My Rare Beasts Project is in its research phase. This is the two month period I allotted myself to decide upon which animals to include in the series and to find the farmers in my region who have these animals. Wherever possible I hope to visit local farms in order to photograph the animals myself. If this is not possible, my plan is to accumulate photo references -either copyright free or which I have permission to use- from wherever I can find them.

If you have breeds of livestock which are currently on the Livestock Conservation List then I would love for you to get in touch with me at rarebeastsproject@gmail.com or just click the ‘contact’ link on the right of this page.

It has been really difficult to narrow the list down, but these are the breeds I am especially interested in:

 

Cows

Canadienne

Milking Shorthorn

Lynch Lineback

Belted Galloway

Horses

Newfoundland Pony

Canadian Horse

Clydesdale

Suffolk Punch

Shire

Pigs

Tamworth

Hampshire

Large Black

Berkshire

Chickens

Chantecler

Light Sussex

Rhode Island Red

Black Jersey Giant

White Jersey Giant

Silver Grey Dorking

 

 

 Sheep

Newfoundland

Border-Leicester

Cotswold

Horned Dorset

Shropshire

Goats

Angora

Toggenburg

Saanen

Geese

Pilgrim

Toulouse

Embdem

Ducks

Aylesbery

Rouen

Silver Appleyard

Turkeys

Ridley Bronze

Blue Slate

White Holland

Horned Dorset Ram - Charcoal and white chalk on grey paper

Horned Dorset Ram – Charcoal and white chalk on grey paper

About this project

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When we first moved to this farm almost a decade ago, I decided to buy some chickens. I had raised chickens when I was a little girl and was excited by the prospect of acquiring some of the breeds I had known and loved in my childhood. Little did I know that many of these breeds were now hard to find, and in some cases the breeds had almost completely vanished. Who would imagine that a chicken could be on an ‘endangered’ list? It seems crazy, but it is true.

 [I]t is estimated that about three-quarters of the genetic diversity found in agricultural crops have been lost over the last century, and this genetic erosion continues. For example, today, 90% of our food energy and protein comes from only 15 plant and 8 animal species, with disturbing consequences for nutrition and food security. Wheat, rice and maize alone provide more than 50% of the global plant-based energy intake. (Convention on Biological Diversity)

Almost everything we eat is produced by fifteen plant and eight animal species. Let that sink in for a minute. And the breeds and varieties within those twenty-three species are few. About thirty percent of all livestock breeds face extinction.

Not only is vital genetic information being lost, but we are also losing part of our culture. The farm animals of songs and stories, animals which lived on the farms of our grandparents and great-grandparents, are disappearing at an alarming rate. These animals were not only useful and well adapted to their environments, but they were, and are, beautiful.

“Rare Beasts: A Bestiary of Rare and Endangered Farm Animals” is a project of twenty large collages, each depicting a farm animal which is currently on the Canadian Livestock Conservation List. The aim of the project is to stimulate discussion about the consequences of the loss of these animals and to celebrate their beauty and diversity.

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