In September 2019, I wanted to mimic the seasonal behaviour of the Eastern Grey Squirrelby collecting and burying Garry oak acorns. A walk through MEE-qan (Beacon Hill Park), Victoria BC led me to Iind a Garry oak meadow that pre-dates colonial times. While foraging for acorns beneath the trees, I noticed several dropped peafowl feathers. Slowly, the habitat came into focus. Above, a tree squirrel hurled nuts to the ground from atop a Garry oak tree. Below, a blue peacock, a species native to the Indian subcontinent, pecked at the nutmeat from cracked acorns scattered in the grass. Most of the acorns had already been crushed open by the weight of human feet. And there we were – a squirrel, a peafowl and a human – all connected through the genetic material of a Garry oak tree. Up until then, I didn’t know that tree squirrels and peafowl had a symbiotic relationship in this urban area.
“Squirrel holds the acorn. Throws the acorn.
We are all acorn, peacock.”
The found materials for this project were all sustainably sourced and lead back to speculative tales about animal-human symbioses; to save the Earth using what has materially survived. Invoking the idea of Squirrealism, the remnants were collected from the ground, and stored for future use, after having naturally shed from a host body.
Back in the studio, I entwined human hair with other species, again by adapting the idea of a ‘symbiogentic join’ including peafowl feathers, acorn cupules and lichen. In the gallery, the materials transformed into masks, fishing flies, corsages, creatures, transforming them from subject to object to subject – generating associations such as origin stories, mutations, and animal-human symbioses.