This March we welcome the 8th edition of the Gladstone’s annual environmental, landscape design and contemporary art festival — Grow Op! This year’s theme brings focus to all things weather.
Discussing the weather has long been a Canadian obsession, but the subject has taken on more urgency as the conversation about climate change gains international attention. How does weather affect our lives now? What changes will it bring in the future? How do we respond to the beauty and spectacle of weather, as well as its force and power?
The artists selected for this year’s exhibition have created immersive works that explore all aspects of weather, from celebrations of the many phenomena of the skies to reflections on the anxiety of climate change.
We had the chance to sit down with participating artist Carolina Delgado-Duruflé and find out about her project for Grow Op 2020! With a warm welcome into her dreamy, plant-filled home, we got to take a look at where inspiration for her work comes from.
Carolina tells us more about her practice, her previous art and hotel experience and what she hopes to tackle in Grow Op 2020! Read on below.
Your project raises ideas around adapting to a new place and new weather. It seems like a very personal story – can you tell us more about how the idea for this project developed?
My first winter here was in 2015. It was extremely cold and I was in shock. I walked outside and my bones hurt. I sent a picture to my brother, and he said: this is colder than my freezer!! In Colombia, where I am from, you can easily move around to experience different weather if you want. You can get to a warm place in 30 minutes, but here you have to wait until the end of the winter. This is why I usually try to escape Toronto during the colder months, but this year I have decided to stay.
This has been a hard experience for me, and made me think about the experience of all the other immigrants in Toronto. With climate change, things are a bit different, because we all at one point will be facing unfamiliar weather. I hope that this can help us understand each other better. Maybe it can make someone from here imagine a little what my experience was like.
You’ve done interior design for a hotel in Bogotá – how has that experience influenced your approach to creating an installation at the Gladstone?
I did interior design work for the Click Clack Hotel in Colombia for 2.5 years. It was an amazing experience, because it brought my two favourite things in life together! Art and design. My approach was to create a memorable experience. When you go to a hotel, usually, you leave and forget about it. My goal with Click Clack was that people would remember it. That it would touch them. For instance, I created a huge display in the main lobby that I filled with unusual objects, like suitcases full of plants to make people smile.
I will bring the same approach to my installation for Grow Op: I want people to remember it although they will only visit it for one night. I have secured more than 30 tropical plants to fill my room, and I will display my porcelain creations in the middle. It will be magical!
You have a lot of experience with social interventions and working within communities in Colombia – how have the communities responded to your practice, and what is the impact you observe with your art and working within these communities?
I worked on a project called 1000 Colours for my village. It was hard to let it go, because the armed conflict in Colombia has affected people a lot. To go to these villages, to be involved with them, is really touching. To work with these communities made me realize that art can bring a new start to things. Where there is destruction and death, art can bring life. One day, I remember that people were working together, even if they had been involved in violent crimes. It went further than the pain and the plant interventions. I realized that when we fix the outside, it can’t get to the inside. This the power of art.
What are you most excited about for Grow Op 2020?
It has been a challenge for me to adapt to a new city, and I am very grateful and happy to have been selected by such a good space. I am showing my new collections in a new country. I am excited to have been supported by the Ontario Arts Council and have received sponsorship with 3 plant stores. As an environmental artist, I want to do art for social change. I really identify with the Gladstone Hotel.
What is the message you wish for viewers to take away from your project?
We live in a world where people treat nature like we are kings. We destroy everything, we cut trees in the Amazon, the lungs of our planet, we open new mines all the time.
My main message is that people need to stop and observe nature. I want them to stop and look at small things. I want them to stop in front of my characters and to see green, to see plants, and to realize that they are alive. I want them to realize that if we continue changing the climate like this, we will destroy everything. There is still time to act and we must act now.
See Carolina’s work along with more than a dozen installations at Grow Op 2020!