ART explores environmental sensitivity and speculates about forms of sustainable cohabitation and liveable futures. MVI works to support multispecies flourishing.

The Multispecies Visionary Institute (MVI), invites visitors to Gymnasium Gallery in Berwick upon Tweed, to experience an immersive body of works that is informed by sustainable land practices and spans a diverse range of media and disciplines.

This blog is an image based documentation of ART and MVI.


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Yestarday we had another sucesfull, informative and inspiring online event.

We’ve heard from BeeTime, Onyx Baird and Piotr of TreeBeekeepers
Bee Time is an art and research collective creating contexts for knowledge exchange and regenerative practices inspired by the systems thinking approach of the honey bee.

Onyx Baird explores the similarities between humans and honeybees. Just as each individual bee plays her specific role within the hive with love and focus, each human being has a unique essence and treasured way in which they are here to support the collective.

The Treebeekeepers Brotherhood will share stories and images about Polish tree-beekeeping. Tree beekeepers take care of bees in a special way by trying to recreate the primeval living conditions in tree hives without interfering with the natural life cycle of the bees.
Here is a link to the recorded zoom event:

https://vimeo.com/578608691


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What I like about this exhibition is that when you enter the gallery and see the entrance to the domes with the rainbow snake/ the Serpent of Paradise that weaves into the distance, then you feel you are at the start of a journey.

The immediate aesthetic impact is pleasing and gentle. There is no mdf and plaster board covered in white emulsion, no extra walls, plinths, or pedestals. You are not entering into a commercial environment. You are not being asked to numb your self and give in to what you are being told. You are not belittled by the enormity of an art environment. You don’t have to worry if this is where you belong or you have the right to be here or if you are wearing the right clothes to blend into the environment. This is not a whiter than white sterile environment or even a deliberate reaction to the cube. What you see has grown naturally, without anger or desperate need to be accepted into a cliché. There is space to breath. You can take this on. You can stay. But what the hell is it all about? You don’t have to know. The question is stupid but its a question that you expect to ask of art. Art makes you stupid unless you know. Art strips you naked although you think you are dressed to kill.

Sabina’s exhibition is an Apparatus for Resurgence in Trophallaxis; a tool to cultural reciprocity and mutual benefit; a method to begin to share what we need to survive. But its easy to survive, isn’t it? Isn’t capitalism great? It’s so easy, just don’t look to the side, don’t smell the soles of your shoes, wipe your arse with perfume and ignore your reeking gut.

So then, what do we need to survive? For starters we need bees and ants and flies and they need plants and flowers and they need soil and water and they need worms and microbes and bacteria and mycelium and I don’t know what the hell they need but I’m sure we all need each other.

It all sounds so corny if you think of how any sense of belonging to the land has been laughed at and ridiculed by the money-making pirates. Tree hugging hippies with their expensive clothes and middle-class privileged educations spouting about love through mass-produced chemicals, forming exclusive tribes and worshipping the sun through designer sunglasses. When really, even in the sinking wreck of our environment there is so much we can have for free. It’s actually even nonsensical to say that it is free. Plants, bees, flowers are free? What does that even mean? But no matter, that’s the language we use and I suppose it means that we are free in our own imaginations.

Each one of the objects in this exhibition is a starting point to a journey of international, shared culture and knowledge. Take a fermentation crock for example and think of the evolution of thousands of years of reciprocity with the plant and microbial world; the interconnectedness of gut, brain, plant and bacteria; a culture of working with the processes of nature, of preservation and transformation. Your life starts here.


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MVI also hosts weekly evolving programme of exhibitions within the gallery from regional and international artists responding the themes within the Multispecies Visionary Institute exhibition. more about the programme can be found here:

http://www.berwickvisualarts.co.uk/whats-on/2181/sabina-sallis-multispecies-visionary-institute-slow-disturbance-exhibition-model-programme

 

The programme was commenced with exciting works by Hannah Christy and Madeline Wynne

 

Working with food, text, clothing, photography, and sculpture Hannah Christy responds to the context of ART through the relationship between things and sensations, ponytails and ribbons, appendages and bee stings.

 

Madeline Wynne’s Rita’s Sampler is a crafted act and product of idolatry that speaks to the figure of Rita Hayworth and the metamorphic stages of womanhood. It features hand-stitched extracts of Rita’s diary in the artists ‘made-up’ language, ‘reflecting a long history of female iconography and gendered spiritual manifestations of celestial, discarnate forces from ancient goddess worship to anthropomorphised representations of natural worlds.


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On Saturday the 17th of July we took a wonderfully informative and inspiring walk with  Mark Shipperlee, a local woodsman and permaculture designer. Mark brought along fellow well informed, passionate tree experts Abby Fowler and Dave Trafford. We looked at and learned to identify the trees nearby – understanding their role, their uses, and the crucial part they play in our planet’s natural systems. Also, the ethos and various  elements of permaculture were introduced, along the questions of how as humans we can interact with trees and assist them in regenerating land – and in particular, those trees immediately around the Gymnasium.

More events this summer to be found and book here:

http://www.berwickvisualarts.co.uk/whats-on/2179/sabina-sallis-multispecies-visionary-institute-events-programme


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On Thursday the 15 July,  we successfully hosted first of online events titled:
‘The Power of Plants, the Future of Earth’.

Tonight we have another event:

check it out/ book here:

How Like a Bee with Bee Time, Treebeekeepers Brotherhood & Onyx Baird

There were two great, informative and inspiring presentations by herbalists and activists -Brigitte Mars, and Seed Sistas

Brigitte Mars presentations advocates for edible lawns. https://brigittemars.com/
Seed Sistas in Herbalism as an Act of Rebellion explored how abundantly grown herbs can build healthy communities by connecting people to local plants, to each other for good health and the earth. https://www.sensorysolutions.co.uk/

You can watch the recorded zoom event following the link below:
https://vimeo.com/577177871

Here is an article about SeedSistas work that they would like to share with everyone:

 

Herbalism as Activism

20 years ago, I made the decision to go to University and study my hobby of Herbalism, whilst on the 4-year full time Bachelor of Science degree in Phytotherapy, at Middlesex University in North London, one of the best bits was meeting Fiona Heckels, my fellow founder of our Social Enterprise -Sensory Solutions Herbal Evolution. We immediately recognized a kindred spirit in each other! We both have an insatiable passion for plants and a deep anger at the state of society and the lack of care for the beautiful planet we inhabit.

After much debate and discussion we decided to channel our rage into something positive and to work to Cultivate change, we formed our Social Enterprise, Sensory Solutions Herbal Evolution as an arts and health-education, Community Interest Company. We are completely committed to the promotion of empowerment, autonomy, freedom, health, and diversity through teaching about plant medicine.  All of our Sensory Herb courses, publications, talks and tours promote the aims of the CIC: to educate about and promote the growing and use of herbal medicine.

We are known as the Seed SistAs, and spend a lot of time collecting and sharing seeds of medicinal plants along our travels, organizing and attending seed swap events and inspiring and cultivating change were possible

We believe that a positive shift occurs in each person that is educated about the harvesting and utilization of herbal medicine, a reconnection with our precious plants and planet ensues. Through this reconnection and shift a whole new system of healing relevant to today will be created. A system that takes the pressure off the NHS by empowering people to treat their minor ailments with abundantly growing herbs and a system that builds healthy communities by connecting people to their local plants, to each other, good health and our beautiful Earth.

Our publication; The Sensory Herbal Handbook a culmination of years of working with plants, health and the cycles of the year has been written for anyone who has heard the whispers of the wild and has been stirred to know more.

For the past twenty years we have been driven by the recognition that we are living in a world that is in ecological crisis and life on earth can feel this chaos and deepening sadness. Movements for sustainably and environmental projects are blossoming world over, often with women leading the way, but we are living in a world that has far to go – Cranfield University reported the number of women holding senior jobs in the boardrooms of Britain’s biggest companies fell in 2018, quotas to address the balance were made up in less senior positions. The implication here, that where women only make up 32% of the board room, women are less involved in the big decisions on climate and sustainability policies within large companies. It also worth noting that Canfield’s research states that the woman that are in senior positions are markedly lacking in diversity. Research carried out at Adelaide University, concluded that the average corporate could save as much as £2.4m on the £158.54m average environmental lawsuit for every woman it appointed at boardroom level.

There are many people working and fighting for change – for social change and environmental laws to be brought into our court system despite the existence of international agreements or codes of conduct, the devastation and harm to our atmosphere is worsening.

Existing international declarations, treaties and protocols, do not impose an international legal requirement to uphold nation state and corporate responsibility for ecocide. The impact of including ecocide law as an international crime will be significant; prohibiting dangerous industrial activity that causes ecocide and exacerbates climate change has the potential to be a game changer on a global scale.

The aims of our Social Enterprise is to educate people about the harvesting and utilization of plant medicine thus spreading the radical roots of a whole new paradigm of healing relevant to today. This is achieved through various educational resources and community growing projects managed and run by the us and our amazing Sensory Herbal Apprentices. Through each of the Sensory Community Medicine Garden projects, education is proliferated about the medicinal power of plants through the growing, harvesting and the creation of simple plant remedies.

Community gardens have the potential to mitigate some of the problems that plague our societies. They can be a beneficial addition to many communities by increasing the availability of nutritious foods, and useful medicines strengthening community ties, reducing environmental hazards, reducing food miles and creating a more sustainable system.

Getting our hand down in the soil, sowing seeds, planting out, weeding and creating compost is now a whole new studied branch of health! Social and therapeutic horticulture – the process of utilizing plants and gardens to improve physical and mental health, as well as communication and thinking skills.

Gardening is a wonderfully flexible medium that can transform lives with the ability to help everyone, regardless of age or disability.

The benefits of a sustained and active interest in gardening include:

• Better physical health through exercise and learning how to use or strengthen muscles to improve mobility

• Improved mental health through a sense of purpose and achievement

• The opportunity to connect with others – reducing feelings of isolation or exclusion

• Acquiring new skills to improve the chances of finding employment

• Just feeling better for being outside, in touch with nature and in the ‘great outdoors’

Horticultural and woodland therapies are attracting attention thanks to the increasingly well-documented value of the outdoors for people’s mental health and wellbeing. There is a growing pile of research showing that the flexible nature of gardening projects allows service users to feel empowered in a non-threatening space. It also helps develop nurturing skills and is thought to boost mindfulness, as well as increasing serotonin and dopamine levels.

Apprenticeship

Through the apprenticeship and courses that we created we share our love and wisdoms about the plant world, and we encourage our students to become storytellers, reviving this ancient art as an educational craft. Each apprentice is encouraged to learn to lead herb walks and proliferate the herb knowledge.

The roots of Phytotherapy or traditional herbal medicine are deep, traversing across thousands of years and interweaving with every society known to have inhabited this planet. Herbalism is currently the most widely used system of healing throughout the world.

Plant compounds elicit responses within us through interacting with receptors in our cells and nerve endings. We are composed of much the same substances as our plant cousins; we have grown and developed together over millennia. These plant compounds interact with us on many levels, exerting effects on us physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

We can learn to speak the same language as the plants if we just give ourselves the chance to do so. Taste a bitter lettuce or a sweet apple and the conversation begins. The way a plant tastes gives us clues to its physical actions. Plants converse with us through their visual appearance, their taste, their scent, the way they feel to the touch and the energy they emit. Taking the time to stop and breathe, to sense and experience, brings us an awareness of each plant and forms the start of a relationship with us. The more we experiment, explore and practice speaking to plants in this way, the greater our knowledge about them becomes, and the deeper our relationship goes. The more we interact with the plants the more they reveal themselves to us, and the more confident we can be about using them for medicine.

‘Herbal medicine is a broad church’ those were the words of the great herbalist Christopher Hedley. He was our mentor, a wizard who sort to unify herbalists and create health justice for all through better access to good quality herbal medicine. There are many differing types or practices of herbalism. Herbalists who simply buy in their stock of dried herbs and tinctures ready made to herbalists who grow and create all their own from seeds.

Sensory Herbalism is based on the Western Herbal Medicine Tradition, drawing on tools and energetic language that have always been used to connect with and understand plants and people.  Western Herbal Medicine is a holistic system of medicine focused on returning a person’s health back to a state of homeostatic balance.  It has become a practice with rigorous medicalised training and often (but not always) little connection to the plants themselves. Sensory herbalism differs from this.  The focus is on the plants themselves.  Getting to know them intimately through utilizing the senses and intuition, as well as the analytical mind.  Sight, touch, smell and taste are trained to understand the subtle qualities of a plant that give clues as to its physical, emotional and spiritual attributes. A couple of simple examples of this would be the aromatic oil in rosemary indicates that it has developed protection from harmful, microbes, insects, even drought. The aroma when rubbed indicates the presence of these oils which we know that, when present, they will provide protection for the human body on a physiological level but also on a more energetic level. The bitter taste within herbs, we know stimulates digestive processes. We salivate more and feel hungry minutes later as the bitter reflex stimulates sluggish digestion. In the presence of a bitter taste, we know that a plant will have affinity for the digestive system and energetically will help to shift stagnant emotional patterns.

We have a strong political ethos.  Naturally, in following the plants and harvesting through the seasons, it is becoming obvious that huge areas of habitat and plant diversity are seriously lacking and under threat.  Places that can be harvested from have reduced in number since the introduction of modern farming practices, hedge removal and the use of pesticides.  Sensory herbalism aims to get to know the plants but also to protect them and to encourage the growing of plants, the instigation of re-wilding communal green spaces and to pass on knowledge and information to reignite people’s interest in these most valuable, beautiful and medicinally-rich beings.

There is a focus on how as humans we can restore our own health through interacting with the plants themselves in energetic doses and through the growing and harvesting of them.  We have a strong focus in creativity with great emphasis on connection to nature or spirit through the storytelling, observational drawing of the plants and poetry. We draws on the power of intension whilst growing, crafting and taking medicines.

We work to strengthen the mutually beneficial relationship between herbs and humans. Working with plants is an act of political activism.  It is a statement of self-empowerment and belief in and protection of nature.  The more we know and understand about herbs, the more we want to create the environments in which they can grow and flourish.


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