Monthly Archives: April 2017

Growing a Pigment Garden: Explorations in Horticulture, Craft & Animation for Sustainability (Independent Study)

Supervised by Philippe Blanchard
1. A concise description of your Independent Study (minimum 250 words).
This independent study, stretched out over the course of 4 months in the spring
semester, will be an investigation into the ways in which one can use natural materials
to create animated documentary content that reflects on issues of sustainability. It is
my intention to spend the course of my research project growing, cultivating and
harvesting an organic garden of herbs, flowers, roots and vegetables traditionally used
in the creation of natural dyes and inks.
In addition to cultivating these plants and investigating the history of their traditional
usage, I will also be producing my own dyes for the creation of textiles for stop-motion
puppets, and my own natural inks to be used as hand drawn animation medium.
I will document the process of their growth through time-lapse photography and film, as
well as by keeping a daily journal outlining the progress of the garden as it develops
and my discoveries along the way – both through practical and academic research.
Providing I receive approval from the ethics board, I also plan on conducting interviews
with local farmers and those who have greater experience than I in botany with regards
to more traditional methods of growing – which may not be outlined in academic texts
on the anthropology of traditional agriculture.
Finally, I will begin animated experiments into how these natural materials can be used
as source media and mediums in my artistic practice of animation. These experiments
will be inclusive of techniques spanning from the under-camera animation of raw
materials, to the construction of puppets, and drawing in more traditional animation
What will emerge will be a materials study in the ways in which I can continue to
develop my thesis work in physical materials that reflect the thematic content of the
animated artwork I create.

2. Research objectives, methodologies, and expected outcomes.

Research Objectives
It is my objective to use the summer months to grow and experiment with materials
which I will continue to use throughout my graduate thesis work. As we are based in
Canada, in zone 5 of agricultural hardiness it is important to take advantage of these
summer months, as growing plants on a large scale is expensive and impractical
throughout the winter.

I will continue to experiment with low impact organic no-pesticide no –till permaculture
growing techniques, which prevent soil erosion, and feed the ground rather than mining
its resources.

The objective is also to create a garden that is beautiful, and photographable, that is as
much installation art as it is functional space.

I intend to use this research study to learn more about and practice the use of these
plants as inks and dyes for natural (and whenever possible locally sourced) fibres such
as wool, hemp and cotton, which will eventually be used in the creation of stop motion
puppets and as a palette for hand drawn animation.

The methodologies employed in this independent study will be diverse, stretching from
horticulture, botany and gardening as experimental research practice, to material
making and craft as practice, in addition to more traditional academic reading.
Additional methods will include animation as investigation into the temporality of plant
growth, and photography as tool for capturing that which is invisible to the human eye.
I am interested in the differences in scale that are visible when a growing system is
sped up or slowed down, and the ways in which animation can be used to explore that

Expected Outcomes
At the end of this study I expect to have generated materials, with which to continue
into my directed studio practice in the fall, as well as learned experience about how to
work with these materials. The raw footage and time lapse I generate will also serve as
a media archive on which I will be able to draw through the next year of my study, and
the artistic experiments I conduct will unquestionably have an influence on the
trajectory of my film work moving forward. Animation is an inherently time consuming
media, especially when one is working frame by frame. By taking an extended time in
the summer months to experiment I will be able to move forward in the coming
semester with a clear idea of what already works, and how I can use those techniques
to better communicate thematic concerns in my work.


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“Lara walked along the tracks following a path worn by pilgrims and then turned into the fields. Here she stopped and, closing her eyes, took a deep breath of the flower-scented air of the broad expanse around her. It was dearer to her than her kin, better than a lover, wiser than a book. For a moment she rediscovered the purpose of her life. She was here on earth to grasp the meaning of its wild enchantment and to call each thing by its right name, or, if this were not within her power, to give birth out of love for life to successors who would do it in her place.”

― Boris Pasternak