sandarchy

sandarchy, graphite on paper, 10

A story from the corner store…all the way into a Mongolian sand storm.

At the platform created for passengers to wait and be picked up by buses, they have no bathrooms. Not anywhere that I have seen do they have bathrooms on the ttc (not like in the UK where you pay 50p to take a pee). After waiting for what seemed like 30min but was probably 8, I had to pee so badly that all I could do was image getting off the bus 10min later and running to the house over the ice. The bus finally came, loaded and disembarked north along Broadview ave, and I was bursting by the time I was dropped off beside the corner store. For an inexplicable reason I chose to go in, instead of running home. George was particularly talkative, and began unwinding what he remembered of strong winds blowing all through his childhood in China. I was fascinated, but had to run and told him why.

The next day I went back, and asked, what were you saying about Mongolia?

“It was china but bordering on Mongolia in the north. In the winter, nevermind the wind-chill, it was normally -50c. But the wind was always blowing, it would blow you over. We had summer storms as well, but instead of snow it was sand. Sunglasses would do nothing, we would have to wear goggles just to walk, nevermind riding a bike. ”

George was looking out the window at the chilly winter wind.

“When I visited the small town I grew up in, equal distance from Mongolia and Korea, there were these old walls I remember from being a kid. It was wall after wall built to hold trees to protect the city from the ever-approaching sand, trying to wash away our town. These trees were not so big though you see, maybe up to here, ”

Indicating with his hand about 5′ tall.

“They were not tall but they were old right? Like the trees I saw by the tree-line in the arctic.” I broke in.

“Yes, yes, incredibly old, 40-50 years, but they would not grow bigger than me.” George continued, “when I was visiting this town in the 70’s I found, horribly that the fences we built to keep the crops alive had decayed, since by the fourth tier of trees you can dig a foot and find water for the new saplings. That was the saddest part, that every 5-10 years the dead trees would have to be replaced, and were then used to rebuild the fences, but people had forgotten that this was our responsibility. The fence used to run through the whole north, northeast and northwest of the city. It was immense. I cannot imagine how it must be on the interior plain, where the wind is much worse, and they have larger cities like Shanghai.”

When I arrived home the image was so strongly drawn in my mind, I put it on paper.

‘leftover and invasive’ tree baskets

I was commissioned, through my role as ‘animator’ in the children’s garden at evergreen brick works, to find some free, functional solution to children compacting the roots of newly planted trees in the garden.
each one of the baskets is made with a different technique and material. this is black locust removed from competing with native shrubs on the brickworks site by tuesday night site stewardship volunteers, installed and woven in chimney court by volunteers for the saturday public program.
This odd one is made of oak posts which i harvested when an old tree fell on rosedale valley road during a storm in 2009, long wired boughs of pine and spruce which used to be wreathes, were woven over, and then we put up a sign that said “WANNA PUT CLAY ON THIS FENCE? PLEASE DO” and they did. many kids with their hands, through their parents or with sticks used old clay left over from the cob house pictured in the background, to finish installing this ‘clay’ tree basket.
this wee fence is made in the style of the ‘brush hut’. this conventional survival shelter is based around the idea that if you are going to make a shelter out of sticks, and just tie them together at the top, there is little head room in the space, unless of course you use 18′ poles as in a tipi. so instead you make two rings of uprights and infill between with any form of brush. thereafter you lay your rafters on top and have more formal ‘walls’ and a roof, without relying on more complex building technologies. this is also designed as a kind of loose parts garbage collector, since in chimney court we put much emphasis on building and rebuilding shelters out of sticks, we have hundreds of orphaned sticks just laying about. this design allows for the orderly clean up of the childrens’ space, so they can build the garbage into something useful.
this last one is situated at the entrance to chimney court, again the manifestation of the educational principles of evergreen, the not-for-profit organization who currently runs the evergreen brick works project, where i have been working in multiple roles for 6 years. This is an adaptation of wattle and daub, a hilariously named medieval technology of building walls, where you begin with the wattle, a loose term for a kind of weaving with small sticks, and then daub it! with cob. cob, in case you have not been indoctrinated into the natural materials of the environmental art/education uprising yet, is a natural building material that utilizes and takes advantage of the inherent qualities of clay, by mixing it with sand, so it shrinks less, and some kind of fiber like straw for structural integrity. it is applied with water as the vehicle, and dries by air, making one of the most widely applicable building materials the world over, since it does not require a kiln to fire the clay.

 

 

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