A year ago, I was on the island of Oahu, in Hawaii, on a trip to learn about threatened endemic plants. I met a group of environmentalists who had channeled their anxiety about climate destruction into tangible action. Every weekend they travel to the Manoa Valley with the intention of revitalizing a six-acre plot of land. Teeming with vegetation and yet only a few miles away from Honolulu, the area is known for the many waterfalls and the rainbows that accompany its daily rainfall. Their plot is just a tiny fragment of the valley; it is the seat of their ambition.
Cultivate is a tribute to the enduring commitment of those who work to protect what can still be preserved. The room is backed by illustrations of endemic plants from the Manoa Valley and the breadfruit tree, another tree being propagated by Hawaiian conservationists. A cultivation table is the room’s focal point, displaying a group of purely fictitious plants that in their sculptural whimsy represent the passion and aspirations of the humans that tend them.
This project was funded by a grant by the Ontario Arts Council.
Studio shots by Chris Miner.
Flora & Fauna is a public art project by Marney McDiarmid and Grace MacDonald. The work features large-scale drawings of plants and animals on windows in their community. "At a time when people were largely confined to their homes and the usual joys of spring were largely inaccessible,” explains McDiarmid, “we found a way to inject some of the feel of renewal into surprising places.” They drew spring flowers and images of a much-loved local family of foxes on the windows of a nearby cafe and the plant and animal life of nearby parks and city streets.
The project culminated with drawings of endemic Hawaiian plants and birds on the windows of long-term care facilities in the city, a way of taking their fantastical art to people whose lives have been severely curtailed by the pandemic.
This most recent work was inspired by McDiarmid's Ontario Arts Council grant that enabled her to study these plants in Hawaii in March of 2020.