17 December 2015

2015 Resident Artists

As 2015 draws to a close, it's time for us to take a deep breath and look back on an incredible year. Small Pond wouldn't be here without the scores of artists who have invested in themselves through our residency program. The presence of these wonderfully diverse creators has enriched our lives beyond measure. A huge thank you to everyone who joined us in 2015!

Suzanna Lebec's residency was focused on writing. Hard work deserves to be rewarded, and we went on some spectacular outings, including cocktails at the Al Purdy A-Frame with writer-in-residence Kathryn Maclean.

Kath and Suzy at the A-Frame
Pamela Schuller had a productive residency making and painting masks.

Peter Paylor worked on a large sculpture carved from old cedar rails he found around the property, and demonstrated his carving at a Creative Rural Minds gathering.

Ginna Wilkerson joined us from Florida to work on some writing and a host of visual art projects. We went to an art opening at Blizzmax Gallery and she enjoyed getting to know the community through attending many local yoga classes.

Ginna at Blizzmax Gallery
Zach Van Horn came to us from Ohio and successfully completed a whole series of paintings.

Mieke Van Geest visited us for the second time to work on her book of photos.

Photo by Mieke Van Geest, taken during her 2014 residency
Alison Broverman and Katie Swift called Small Pond home while working on The Tale of a Town - Canada. I was thrilled to collaborate with them on this beautiful endeavour. We interviewed 60+ people about their memories of Main Streets in Prince Edward County, culminating in a theatrical presentation and podcast, which you can listen to here.

Katie and Alison in the Wellington Times, photo by Alison Broverman
Liane Décary-Chen came from Montreal to work on some graphic design, and learned how to play Kubb, the Swedish game of champions.

Animators Ruth Taylor and Auke de Vries came to us all the way from Amsterdam, but Small Pond was just one stop on their 'round-the-world residency adventure. 

Auke at Point Petre
Ruth tries her hand at axe-throwing on Jobs' Island
Some of our regular puppetry collaborators stayed with us while working on our latest shadow puppetry play, Unjustly

Guy Doucette and Craig Morrison, puppet designers
Andrew Young, head puppeteer and woodsman
Thank you to all these wonderful artists for making this a summer to remember.

If you're interested in joining us for a residency in 2016, we're now accepting applications. Please visit our website for details.

19 October 2015

Re:Collections - In Print & On The Stage

This past April I started asking people to tell me their library stories for a project called Re:Collections. “What kind of stories?” people wanted to know. “Any kind,” I would say, “as long as they are personal and true and have something to do with libraries.”

Over the spring and summer the stories trickled in by mail and email. I spent some time in each of Prince Edward County’s six library branches, asking patrons and librarians to take a few minutes to talk to me about the libraries in their lives. I recorded these interviews, and later transcribed them.

Libraries have had a profound impact on my life. As a child they unfolded countless universes before me; this early love of language and books started me on the path towards becoming a writer. As a teenager, libraries were places of refuge where I could lose myself in a book without worrying about fitting in. Conversely, as an adult I have re-discovered the library as a place of community. The library is an institution with ancient roots that plays countless roles in people’s lives, and continues to evolve as we do. They are a wonder. Simply put: I love libraries.

Clearly, I'm not alone. I've taken great pleasure in hearing the diversity of stories people have shared, as well as discovering the similarities between them. We library lovers clutch a common thread.

After seven months of story-gathering and synthesizing, Re:Collections wrapped up this past weekend, with the launch of a zine of the collected stories. My first zine! These are exciting times!

It only took me 35 + years to get from this:

To this:

At the launch, we held a reading of a half-hour verbatim play; 60 voices edited together into a half-hour performance. 

L to R: Joan McBride, Rick Zimmerman, Christine Renaud, Krista Dalby
The audience loved the reading; they laughed all the way through it, and many people told me they also found it quite touching. But there are a *lot* more stories in the zine than in the play, and copies were flying out the door! 

Zine launch and DiscARTed art show opening at Books & Co., Picton
If you would like a copy of the zine, please get in touch with me: krista(at)smallpondarts.ca. There are a limited number of copies available, so first come first served! They are $10 CDN (+ $2 shipping), with half the proceeds going to the County of Prince Edward Public Library.

Dewey Decimal by Niall Eccles

My most heartfelt thanks to the 60+ people who contributed their stories, to the Ontario Arts Council and the County of Prince Edward Public Library & Archives for their support, to Niall Eccles for creating the project’s Dewey Decimal Mascot, and to my co-conspirator Milé for designing the zine. 
What will be our next project for Silo Press?

See you at the library!

UPDATE (May 16, 2016): There is now an audio recording of the play! Listen to it HERE. it's kind of quiet, so make sure you turn the volume up.

27 September 2015

Stickfest 2015

On Saturday we welcomed friends old and new to the annual Festival of the Stick, our much-loved celebration of the humble and mighty stick. This year's featured activity was Kubb, a game we picked up in Sweden a few months ago.

The game involves two teams throwing sticks at each other's "kubbs" - blocks of wood. It looks pretty simplistic but it's quite challenging and extremely fun! Kubb was a big hit with our residents over the summer, so we knew it would be the perfect activity to celebrate Stickfest.

We also had our ever-popular stick-painting activity. We love seeing kids mucking around with paint. Get 'em hooked while they're young, I say!

But the heart of Stickfest is our pop-up Stick Museum. 

Visitors are always delighted to discover that yes, there really are a lot of different sticks in the world, and that we have gone to great (ridiculous?) lengths collecting specimens from around the world and displaying them in informative and creative ways.

We had some fantastick new donations to the museum, like this Anarchistick from Christine Renaud:

A bundle of Artisticks from Rick Zimmerman: 

And this spectacularly bug-carved stick from Joan McBride:

Stickfest is always a great time; maybe next year you'll join us? Our friend Ember will tell you what to do:

17 August 2015

August Foggy Sunrise

The sunsets at Small Pond are often quite stunning, but if you're lucky enough, you'll catch some glorious sunrises as well, made extra special when there's a hazy layer of fog.

26 June 2015

Peter Paylor and another Sticky Story

Earlier this month Belleville sculptor Peter Paylor undertook a 1-week artist residency at Small Pond. He showed up with his tools and started looking around the farm for inspiration.

He quickly found it in a stack of old cedar rails. Soon the cedar shavings were piling up on the barn floor, perfuming the air with that fresh-hamster-cage smell.

He was working on something… something big!

During Peter’s stay I was hosting a Creative Rural Minds event at nearby Loch Sloy; Peter came along and did a carving demonstration.

Here's Peter with part of his finished sculpture, Community. It is built from eight pieces of  cedar rail fence found on the property; it forms a single piece representing a community of ravens. Behind him you can see another carved fence rail he left as a gift to Small Pond. 

But Peter had one more gift to give us. It was a story. I recorded his telling of the story one night over dinner:

“It was the first Stickfest, in 2010 (an annual festival at Small Pond). I sat at the firepit and I was carving a piece of Hesperus (one of our trees that had fallen down), and Lisa sat down and started twisting some wire and making some jewelry. Another woman came and sat down and started knitting, and eventually the circle was filled with people, but we didn’t know anybody. I was introduced to this young kid, who was maybe about 13 at the time, and I was told that he did some carving, and he was curious about me carving this stick. I asked him if he’d ever carved sumac before. He hadn’t, and I had a sumac talking stick in the car so I got it and we talked about carving sumac."

"The woman sitting beside me asked about the stick and I said that it was a talking stick and told her that they’re used in groups and sometimes used in storytelling circles, and I said since you’re holding it, why don’t you tell us a story? Without hesitation she did. She told this cool story, and it was about a tree. And then she passed it to the person sitting beside her, it was a young guy, and he told a story about falling out of a tree; there were a couple of tree stories. There was a very young kid, and I thought that there’s no way that the stick is going to get to him and beyond him, but sure enough he had this great story. All the time this was going on there was a woman sitting there, and again, we didn’t know anybody. She was sitting there signing (American Sign Language). We weren’t sure if she was signing to someone. It turns out it was Mary Tiessen who we’ve since become friends with and she was actually signing for her husband, Jeff, who was sitting beside her."

"When Mary passed the stick to Jeff she signed to explain the whole process of what had been going on and he grabbed the stick and held it against his chest and thought for minute and put the stick down on his lap, and out of his hands and amazing expressive face and out of Mary’s mouth came this beautiful story about how he had gone diving with his father when he was a kid and they had this shore lunch and they had stopped in this cove and it was the most beautiful place they’d ever seen and wouldn’t it be great if we could build a cabin here one day and they thought about it and they went to the province of Newfoundland and they negotiated for years and actually bought this crown land and they actually built the cabin. It was a beautiful story, people were in tears, I was in tears. Then when he was done he got so excited he started giving thumbs up and jumping up and down, and he rushed over and hugged me. And all day at Stickfest he kept giving me thumbs up and hugging me. I asked Mary later, it seems a bit much…? and she said: he never gets to tell a story."

"That was my favourite moment of when I got to use one of my own talking sticks. I actually told this story to one of the organizers of the Ottawa Storytellers’ Group, and last I heard they were planning on arranging a storytelling circle for the Deaf.”

Incredibly, this was the first time we’d heard this story, which happened almost five years ago. It makes me think of the impact you can have on someone’s life when you give them an opportunity to express themselves. And at the heart of it, that is what Small Pond is all about.

After hearing Peter's story, I dug through my photos.
This photo is from Stickfest 2010, and this is some of the
circle of people described in his story.