ART -- Celebrating cement!

Intrigued with materials?  What things are made of,  is where I begin when looking at art.   If art tells a story it does so through many layers of what you see.  Visual arts, particularly contemporary art of today deals with materiality  in ways it was not entertained in the past.  What does this mean?  Well basically the material itself is the art.  The artist's intent and how he/she uses the material can be as simple or complex as needed to tell the story -- even if that story is "untitled".  

Take a google at what some famous artists are doing such as Ai Weiwei, Anish Kapoor, Damien Hirst,  Marina Abramovic,  Geoffrey Farmer to name a few.

Souvenir from Shanghai is a stunning example of material used to literally tell a concrete message.  Concrete coils and the concrete room has a different message using the same material.   The messages here pertain to our society.  What we permit to take place, or perhaps have evolved to accept -- imprisonment of ideas, waste of material, no place for creativity...   

During the building of "D" Village; Big house and Octopus it's been fascinating to watch materials come and go from the site.  What gets saved and sadly what doesn't.  When project 851 is finished I keep telling myself I should write a book about the experience as there's so much that is learnt everyday.  So far, the best recommendation I have is to win the lottery first. Then take on a humble project, have the time to do it correctly (no cheaping out on construction) and pay people well for good work (that's where the lotto part comes in).  ...not as simple as it sounds my friend.

This last week the foundation pour of the Octopus took place and my mind shifted to thoughts of concrete.  The material of strength, texture, transformation, a beauty of lines in grey...  It also had me asking some basic questions, like a child, "what is cement?", "what's the difference between regular and  architectural?" and so on.

My discoveries in cement helped me understand what we kind of know but don't really.  Taking my mind down the path, or perhaps better said paved the road with concrete, the story of cement unfolded.

Cement is a fine mineral powder manufactured with very precise processes. Mixed with water, this powder transforms into a paste that binds and hardens when submerged in water. Because the composition and fineness of the powder may vary, cement has different properties depending upon its makeup.

Cement is made by grinding together a mixture of limestone and clay, which is then heated at a temperature of 1,450°C. What results is a granular substance called "clinker," a combination of calcium, silicate, alumina and iron oxide.  So these aggregate to become a solid through chemical interaction.  There are several types of aggregates, which differ according to their chemical and physical composition, size and density.  Local geological conditions determine which types of aggregates are available in a given market.

Sounds like land being reduced to powder to be used again anywhere you want or need. hmmm, so ashes to ashes takes on a different meaning and becomes earth (land & minerals) to dust.  The dust (powder), then mixed with a body of water becomes a solid again, which only too often sits on or becomes part of the land (dirt) again.  All this comes about simply by looking at cement.

PEOPLE, PLACES, THINGS... the Election vs Pillow Talk

Did you know that Vancouver has a councillor's by-election on October 14th? (note: advance voting Oct 4 & 10th)  Guess is that those who know dates, times issues are  politically inclined, but many others are just surviving day to day and not necessarily thinking about it.    Voting matters, in fact people have died,  in some places on the planet still are,  to have the right to vote and make a difference. I've decided to look at things that matter through a less deadly lens.  This post will fall under the focus of "taking care of ourselves".

I'm aware of the by-election, not because I'm political, but because a neighbour in the "hood" is running.  That neighbour is Pete Fry and he's the guy!... at least he's a nice guy and that's always good to know right?   I love that he mentioned the Eastside Culture Crawl in a recent write up on the creative community -- that's pretty cool.  Have a read on the hyper-link and decide for yourself about Pete and the others.  

Remember when Councillor Geoff Meggs, stepped down from his position at the city?  Well for those who don't,  Geoff is a politician who stepped down from city counsel to take a position with the Province. That was when there was a lot of  excitement rolling out on the new provincial government?  -- Liberals out and coalition government in!! 

It was VERY exciting, even if most people didn't fully get what was going on.  British Columbians  have a knack for doing the unpredictable in this regard.   All I can say is, if anyone doesn't tell you B.C. has the most exciting politics,  then they're totally unaware of how wacky we British Columbian's are.  I actually love B.C. for this quality of voting. 

Anyway, back to Geoff.  He stepped down and I know I'm not the only person out there that didn't get the full picture of what that meant for the city.  It's not part of my everyday world to think about who takes that job on, and how they get it...  Bottom line, is it comes back at us voting citizens, and we need to get out there and voice who fills the space.  Hmmm, how, what, where and who all come rolling out at you so here's the quick answer.  You have 3 chances to place the person who gets the job-- Oct 4th, 10th and voting day the 14th.

Knowing who's running is difficult to keep track of never mind the  issues.  I suggest you go back up to the "that's pretty cool" link above and take a little read (okay I just made it easier for you by hyperlinking it again ; smile).  Here in Strathcona we are lucky as Pete Fry, one of those candidates, live right in our "hood".  What better chance to find out directly about issues than to speak  to your neighbour? 

I know, I know, we're all exhausted putting out more energy all the time but ...  Actually no 'buts' here, as we all know everything before a' but' is questionable right?  Soooo, just go that extra 25% and do it! Get out and vote.  

After you do that voting thing, go rest your head on a pillow.  Speaking of pillows did you know we have another person in our "hood" who makes them?  Yup, just got an e-mail notice from Erika  who's all about pillow fighting!   Love those pillows and I know mine have stood up to some healthy pillow battles.   Erika and Pete are just 2 more people in this place making a mark on things.

You may just want to do a little fun pillow fighting over those political issues.  Have some fun and remember to vote. 

Note: warning your pillow fighting should not get to this level...(take care of yourself!!)





COMMUNITY -- power to the worker!

To make things happen takes a team, a group of dedicated people, who are inspired by a project, action, and purpose.  It's exciting to be apart of something that manifests into a reality.  Some of those team members in this project are on site.

Who would think that when you take on a building project you develop relationships with such an interesting group of people; architect's, contractors, footing/foundation trades, framers, mechanical specialists, house raisers, city workers, neighbours and the list oges on.  

Many years ago I realized one never does anything alone, opening your eyes to those who work with you, around you, for you, beside you...  That's also when it became important to me remember to thank people for things especially their kindness and personal traits. With the madness of the world today this is not always easy to remember to do, for it requires one to reflect for it to be genuine.  

During this project family has extended to include all the good people who have been interested and belong to the project in one way or another.  This includes those who have lived in or had relatives of the original house and come back to the neighbour hood to visit the community they remember from another time.  It also includes those who live here now and others who didn't even know our "hood" existed.

Some time ago, Marianne asked me to think about a name for the project;  beyond The Big House and the Octopus.  At first I thought it had to be Felliniville, as I always joke my family is like a Fellini movie, but not so sure Federico would approve.  My niece, Natasha and I, over time, have discussed the idea and one day we nailed it -- "D" Village!   

"D" Village is perfect, not only because "it takes a village" as the saying goes, but also because my Mom's name starts with a "D" and is the impetus behind the project itself.

Cheers to community and "D" Village -- working with love.