“We often think about weaving or working with natural materials as a way of manipulating these materials, but, she would tell me, the materials don’t manipulate based on what your hands are doing to them. The materials actually manipulate you into understanding what they can do,” explains the Mi’kmaq artist Ursula Johnson, quoting her great-grandmother, basket maker Caroline Gould. It is often in close proximity, through the family circle, the community, or by going directly to the source, to the essence of the matter, that relational (and intergenerational) knowledges take shape. By spending time in the environment from which the materials come and with those who know them well, one senses their dynamic properties, their lifecycle – one learns to work with them.


Excerpt from Barbara Marcel’s essay “The Gardener, the Rubber Tapper, and the Herbalist,” in The Work of Wind: Land, ed. Christine Shaw and Etienne Turpin (K. Verlag, 2018).

Tea break on the terrace of Casa Chico Mendes with herbalist Luciene Santos. Still from the film, Barbara Marcel.

Interview with Guy Fortier, Zoé Fortier.

Apiculture, avancées technologiques et parasites, Zoé Fortier, 2016.

Zoé Fortier in her studio. Photo: Hannah Alex.

Bernard Gosselin, César et son canot d’écorce, NFB, 1971, 58 min.

Experiments, creative residency at Centre Est-Nord-Est, Maude Arès, 2020–21. Photos: Maude Arès, Jacinthe Loranger.