Biostrata Residency Week One: Sharktopus

This was the first week of my Biostrata: Cutaway Ecologies artist residency. I am so thankful to be working outside in the Culture Garden at the Charlotte Street Arts Centre. Every summer I feel so justified in shirking my work, because, well it’s summertime, and the outside calls to me. This year it’s different because I get to exercise both of my passions, art and nature, all at the same time. I think I’m onto something here.
Shark Octopus Nesting Sculpture_2

This project is all about connection between organisms. I’ll be making three nesting sculptures, each showing a different biome. So, naturally, I started the week off by researching biomes, which are areas of similar climate which house similar animals and vegetation.

Shark Octopus Nesting Sculpture_3

Fun fact: an increase in altitude acts the same as distance from the equator, in terms of which biome you find yourself in.

Tuesday is not only research day, but also design day. I started by choosing the different animals that would be represented throughout the residency, and then made little polymer clay models to get an idea of form.

Fimo maquettes for biostrata sculptures Wm

When I say nesting sculptures, I mean that in the sense of nesting dolls. These will be sculptures within sculptures. The first ecosystem I’m working with is the marine biome, and the first piece represents an apex shark.

The innermost layer will be an aquatic terrarium like you have seen in some of my previous work. It contains a Marimo moss (actually a form of algae) and shows the base of the food chain.

Shark Octopus Nesting Sculpture

Around this is a stone sculpture which shows an octopus or squid type creature, something tentacley that would be delicious to a friendly neighbourhood shark. This acts as skeleton to the skin.

Shark Octopus Nesting Sculpture_1

The skin layer is flexible textile and plastic. When finished, it will be painted with the habitat of the shark: water and those neato underwater rock formations and hydrothermal vents.

He is made up entirely of other creatures and his environment. Without them he would have no substance, and could not go on holding the shape of a shark. We humans are not exempt from this rule either, we are all made of what we eat and live with.

Shark Cotton

This week you can stop by Tuesday-Saturday from 9-5 and see the skin painted, the stone refined and polished, and the whole thing put together. To find out how you can follow along and participate, visit here.

 

Tiny terrariums.

Thursday I teach terrarium building to kids at Kingsbrae Garden’s ARTrageous. This post is to help any new parents of tiny terrariums to take care of their creations.

Wednesday

It’s pretty simple, add a couple drops of water if you notice it’s looking dry in there. This won’t happen very often. The terrarium contains charcoal to keep it fresh, but if you get mold, it probably means too much water.

Keep out of direct sunlight. If you like, you can tie a cord around the neck of the bottle and wear it like a necklace! Just do your best not to shake the little guy up too much. If you want somebody who really likes all that shaking, check out Marimo moss!

If it so happens that the little mossy dies, don’t despair! This is all locally harvested, and sometimes a species just doesn’t take to captivity. Remove the deceased critter, and go for a walk in the woods to find some more! To protect future mossies, only take from a plentiful source, and remember to wash out any bugs with clean, cool water.

Moss_4 copy

If you need to replace the whole thing, or would like to make more for friends, the layers are as follows, from bottom to top. You only need a pinch of each! Try to fill the bottle only half way with the dirt layers, leaving half the space for the moss to thrive!

Terrarium Layer Cake
Mini bottle (Dollar store or online, best to wash with dilute bleach)
2-3 gravel stones or beads (for drainage)
Sprinkle of activated charcoal (from aquarium store, to prevent algae)
Dampened dried moss (optional, keeps dirt from falling through in bigger bottles)
Half and half mixture of sand and potting soil (tamp down with a paintbrush handle or skewer)
Teeny tiny moss baby of your choosing! (dig a little hole for it with your paintbrush)
Spritz or two of water down the sides

I hope you enjoyed creating a habitat for your new friend! You can use the same recipe to make all different sizes. Keep me posted on how you get along!