Sunday, January 20, 2013

toilets and nerds

A pungent, earthy, composting odour filled the building corridor. Before unlocking the apartment door and entering she knew he was sick again.

I photographed my toilet a few days ago. Not something I ever expected I would want to do.

I saw a request for artists by the Britannia Art Gallery in Vancouver to submit small pieces of mail art for an amateur friendly event. This sounded interesting enough to try it, but first I had to learn what “mail art” was. I was totally clueless. After snooping at some examples I discovered “Mail art” pretty much is what it sounds like: small pieces of art that can be processed through the postal system. Put a stamp on a piece of art, throw it in a mailbox and have the powers that be do the rest.

 The requirements for this event are 4 inch by six inch size pieces of art. That’s pretty small. I cut up some old file folders to the required size to use as supports and to give me a sense of what kind of scale I needed to work with. Then I had to think of something that would fit the theme of “This is where I go.” Beats me how I came up with the toilet other than that’s like, well, where I go. However the more I thought about it the better I liked the idea. My son has Crohn’s disease which causes inflammation of the colon so it seemed natural to link the two and make a bit of a statement. I then photographed my toilet to use as a photo transfer and modified it. Afterward I went through my pile of old newspaper to find an ad for toilet paper and found an ad for air freshener. Bonus! It was a lucky find. I had a heart shaped paper cutter already so it seemed like a good idea to cut the toilet paper and air freshener ads with it. Somehow the whole thing kind of came together very easily. It doesn’t always happen like that so this was a very pleasant experience.

"Where I go. Where I've been." photographed with my coffee cup to give a sense of scale.

 The title of the mail card is “Where I go, Where I’ve been.”  IBD can mean constant runs to the toilet for some individuals and therefore the link to the title of my card. My son is lucky now. The drug he is taking has kept things pretty much in check and he leads a normal life without much cramping and pain. However for many people with IBD it is an ongoing battle against food intolerances, pains, bloody diarrhea, weight loss and lethargy. My son still struggles with weight gain, and the problem was so severe at one time that he had to be hospitalized. As a caregiver, many of my memories are linked with the cleaning up aspects of IBD so this project was surprisingly therapeutic: I could do something positive with a toilet.

If you wish to learn more about IBD check out:
Go to for information on the Britannia Art Gallery mail art card project.

Totally changing the subject, which I am apt to do, on January 17, the Nanaimo Design Nerds hosted a cultural planning event. My hometown has always struggled with its cultural identity, however recently there has been a huge movement to create cultural growth and change. Like many cities, the downtown core became deserted, stagnant and depressed once businesses began to move away to strip malls and large shopping malls in outlying areas.  This has been a problem since the late seventies with our city, but in the last decade the old city core started to revitalize and regain a special energy of its own. A lot of Nanaimo residents want to capitalize on this vigour and keep it moving in a positive direction. There is a desire to create a cultural hub but no definitive plan. The event on the 17th was designed to stimulate brainstorming by many people of varying ages and interests sharing their input to come up with a preliminary plan. 

It was a fun night and I hope some good comes out of it.

I just had to share these photos. Get a group of artsy people together, put a piece of paper before them and some felt markers and sure enough it won’t remain bare for long. I wish I was this talented.

For more information on the Nanaimo Design Nerds check out :

The harvesting of ideas did not begin on an autumn morning, but on a winter night with stars blazing bright.

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