Friday, January 4, 2008

Happy Hazelnut

I grew up 1st generation Canadian to Estonian parents. Back then, Estonia had been swallowed up into the Soviet Union and was simply labeled on my grade school globe as E.S.S.R. Nobody I knew had ever heard of it, grown ups were no exception to this ignorance. My mother prepped my siblings and I with responses to the inevitable FAQ’s beginning with “Where’s Estonia?”. Now that the Baltic States have their names back along with their independence, I don’t have this problem. It has however, left me with the compulsive need to make sure my children are educated about the world, the WHOLE world around them. I know it bores them sometimes, but I’m convinced knowledge dissolves stereotypes and creates tolerance.The world would just be a little better if we all knew a bit more about each other.

Part of my compulsion led me to create this little game – “Where’s it Made”. My kids and I went exploring, counting how many different countries made the things in our house. They actually found this to be fun, but after a few minutes it became apparent the game had to change to, “Try to find something that wasn’t made in China”. It was a big challenge, at least 80% of household goods (that would be a statistic created by moi, for my house) are manufactured in China. In an effort to try to live a more community based life, buying local goods whenever possible, I started to ask myself what DO I have that’s exclusively from the area where I live? This is all I found… this hazelnut from a local apple orchard and nothing else. Well, I have more than one hazelnut, but I wanted to draw a smiley face on this one and call it art, because it’s supposed to be sort of an art blog too :)

Related to all this is an incredible documentary, Manufactured Landscapes. There isn’t a lot of dialogue in this film, it’s more of a sensory experience. The film highlights the work of photographer Edward Burtynsky. His images of mass production and industrialization are stunning. The scale of industrialization that his images portray (mostly from China in this film) are so enormous that they become abstracted and almost beautiful. What amazed me the most about watching this film is that I rented it for myself but every family member who walked by stopped and then sat down to watch with me, including my 6 year old. An art documentary that can fascinate a 6 year old? That’s a rarity.


andrea said...

This is a great post and your blog is rapidly becoming one of my "must reads."

girl work studios said...

Coming from you Andrea, that is a huge honour. Thanks!

dinahmow said...

Hi! 've seen your avatar on Andrea's blog and she mentioned you(in email) so I came to be nosey.
I'll come back!
(We had an Estonian teacher at our New Zealand school in the early 50s.)

girl work studios said...

Hi Dinah! Yes do be nosey! and thanks for visiting and commenting.