Tiffany Singh | Artist
Auckland City | November 2016
"An art practice amalgamating some of the diverse blessings of nature"... more text below images
Our garden is located on the northern slope of Mount Albert. We’ve rented our home for the last 8 years. Apparently the garden was built by an elderly female painter in the 1950’s. I think this is true because when I look at the garden it has a romantic painterly aesthetic to it. It's wild, and has an unkempt rambling display of old fashioned texture and colour. I love the way you never know what is going to pop up next. It reminds me of a grandmas garden with lots of flowers and greenery. It has an enchanted quality to it, which I adore.
As a practising Buddhist there are many gods and goddesses which we give daily offerings to around our home. These are gathered from the garden. We can also see Wihaan the temple from the kitchen window so her daily offerings, and ever changing colour spectrum reference the seasons reflected through the garden.
My natural dye Sensai, Deb Donnelly is a member of the World Shibori Network. A network celebrating the visual languages of people, community, culture and environment through the global practice of resist-dye traditions and innovation. Working with her has taught me a lot and opened my mind to the possibility of creating colourful artworks from natural materials. Recently Deb has titled my practice “kusaki-zome” which means “an art piece amalgamating with some of the diverse blessings of nature.” I make natural dyes from whatever is growing seasonally in the garden and then press live flowers and leaves in to the papers making permanent works out of the impermanence of each season.
The garden and environmental consciousness has been a part of my Arts practice in numerous ways for many years. In 2015 I was on the Santa Fe Institute Of The Arts Food Justice Residency. The Eco-Mural project was a garden that aimed to exist as a hybrid knowledge base, through its onsite physicality. Giving entry to a environmental consciousness that bridges traditional methodology & narrative. A garden that implemented systems of advocacy through tangible means of factual awareness, culture & ethnicity. Using awareness as a dialogue around the ethics & values that connect us to each other & the land, one that acknowledges the cosmology of plants and ceremony of nature with the upmost respect.
I see the garden as a space to revitalise wellness, the landscape as a ritual food scape. Weeds as food & medicine, revitalising cultural, physical & spiritual connections between the environment & community for health and wellness. That is why I cherish the plants that grow so readily and use them in tinctures and balms, the geranium, rose and mint, the onion flowers, clover & wood sorrel. Unfortunately Marigolds get eaten and I guess you could call me a pansy collector!
Whilst I don’t officially have bees, the bees swarm around here because of all the beeswax casting I do. I see it as a collaboration between myself and the bees as it takes 6 pounds of honey to create 1 pound of wax. Because I am always melting wax it must smell like home to the bees so that they are always here. I have developed a wonderful working relationship with them. Now I can pick them up and move them around without ever getting stung.
Ants are my number one pest. We try to coexist.
Biggest chore? My husband would say it’s the lawns. For me it’s the Kikuyu Grass which is constantly trying to takeover the vege garden.
I garden with Sequoia my 1 year old. She loves discovering and smelling the flowers and helping me collect materials for my natural rainbows.
Best time to be in the garden is mid morning to early afternoon when it is filled with sunshine.
My gardening philosophy – hands in the earth = healthy mind.
I socialise in my garden by decorating Wihaan our temple. The house is always open to those who wish to help make my often labour intensive installations, it often looks like more of a studio than garden!
How do you feel when plants get eaten and nibbled by pests? That this is nature and the pests have a right to be there too.
What do I most love about my garden? The wonderful outdoor green space it offers us. The natural bounty it provides me in terms of the natural materials it supplies me with for my art making practice, and the herbs and flowers it grows us for dinner.
To find out more about Tiffany's work, visit her website.
POD thanks photographer Lottie Hedley