Alchemy is an artist residency committed to community engagement by making and sharing art, food and ideas. When the first wave of COVID 19 arrived in 2020, Alchemy suspended traditional residency programming and created Table Settings to recognize the contribution of farm and vineyard labourers, many of whom come from outside of Canada and all of whom work alongside local farm and vineyard owners. A small brigade of (volunteer) artists and chefs prepared more than 600 suppers in 2020 in appreciation for hard work during a stressful harvest season. An expanded Table Settings is underway for 2021. Selected artists create collaborative site-specific artwork and lead community-engaged activities including suppers for farm and vineyard workers. Selected artists will explore new ideas, connect with residents, farm and vineyard owners, and seasonal agricultural workers -- all of whom are essential contributors to this unique wine-producing agricultural community.
Table Settings brings simple, healthy and delicious suppers to Hillier, Prince Edward County farm and vineyard workers after a long day in the fields. Prepared by a volunteer kitchen brigade of artists/chefs/makers, these meals are offered with thanks and recognition of hard work during a time of COVID related social distance and physical isolation. Our menus are based on the availability of seasonal ingredients purchased from local farmers and makers and prepared in a donated Hillier vineyard kitchen. Through documentation and conversation, Table Settings will also provide reflection about the food security issues faced by us all.
Alchemy is grateful to Linda Downey and the Storehouse Foodbank and the Prince Edward County Community Foundation for their support. To find out how you can contribute to Table Settings, please contact Claire@makealchemy.com
Photo: Coldcreek Vineyards, October 2020, Hillier, PEC.
Patti Randazzo Beckett at Broken Stone Winery
Jane Macdonald at Hillier Hall
Mary Macdonald at Stanners Vineyard
Lisa Wood at Closson Chase Vineyards
Barbara Brown at Hinterland Winery
Lynn Hubbs at Casa Dea Estates Winery
Frida Foberg at Redtail Vineyards
Claire M. Tallarico
Tonia Di Risio
Click on the artist's name for more information.
Check back for an exhibition of public art installations in Hillier at the end of September for Culture Days.
Lisa Wood is a visual artist and Assistant Professor at Ishkaabatens Waasa Gaa Inaabateg, Department of Visual Art at Brandon University. With an MFA from Yale University and a BFA from the University of Manitoba, her art practice focuses on figurative painting and drawing that investigates interpersonal relationships, social exchanges, and the role of food. Lisa has been the recipient of many awards and scholarships and exhibits her painting and prints nationally and internationally.
While in Hillier this season, Lisa has proposed to work with Closson Chase Vineyard in Hillier, Prince Edward County to create artwork honouring the seasonal farm workers and the careful work they do tending to the vines.
Lisa is excited to return to Prince Edward County to:
About Closson Chase Vineyards
Closson Chase is a quality-driven winery that helped spearhead the birth of the Prince Edward County wine industry, using centuries-old European traditions and sustainable, innovative techniques to create world class wines using only the finest Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris grapes. An early advocate for sustainable practices, Closson Chase Vineyards is situated on south sloping land with good drainage, and on gravelly soil on a limestone base It is approximately five kilometers inshore, and on land that was once the Closson family farm, early settlers to the County. Closson Chase crafts fine wines that reflect each individual vintage, capturing the distinct qualities imparted by the soil and climatic variations of the year.
Mary Macdonald lives in Prince Edward County, and has the great fortune of farming a vineyard known as Stanners Vineyard on Station Road in Hillier. She says about her studio work:
My practice begins in found objects/materials and place; ideally it is situated with site specific responses. I am interested in the power of art and beauty to draw people together, to invite inquiry of place, of self, of the relationship therein. I am interested in engaging people in art outside of the traditional art spaces – galleries - so as to tease out an individual’s capacity to see themselves in the art, as a way to feel the intrinsic worth of being alive.
As the season continues I hope to produce small sites of sculptural response at Stanners Vineyards ideally with local readily available and possibly overlooked materials with a focus on how we can find art in the spaces around us outside of the traditional gallery settings and on what draws us together beyond the meals we prepare and the place we call home.
A quick to do list for this summer from Mary includes:
About Stanners Vineyard
Stanners Vineyard is a family venture that began in 2003 with the purchase of a parcel of farmland near the village of Hillier in Prince Edward County. The "terroir", that is, the soil, terrain and weather, seemed ideal for their quest to produce a Pinot Noir that would be the rival of any in the world. The winery was built in the summer of 2009, using the ecofriendly Straw Bale construction method for the barrel room, which offers excellent insulation for maintaining temperature equilibrium. This is the first Straw Bale winery east of the Rockies! Stanners Vineyard is a small family vineyard and boutique winery dedicated to producing premium Pinot Noir. Cliff and Dorothy work side by side with their son Colin and daughter-in-law Mary. During especially busy times they can always count on family members from the Toronto area to show up for a strenuous week-end in the vineyard, followed by an evening of good food, excellent Pinot Noir, great guitar, and singing.
Jane Macdonald lives and writes in Wellington, a small town 15 minutes from Hillier. What does being a writer in residence look like? Jane says: “it looks like some sitting, some walks through town and in the woods, and lots of looking."
Macdonald’s writing is saturated by the inhabitants and habits of a place marked by disappearance and loss. She is currently at work on a short manuscript of forty poems, the final requirement of a certificate in poetry from the University of Toronto (U of T). In 2020, Jane was awarded the Janice Colbert prize for poetry, an award for which she was first named as runner up in 2019. This prize is given by the Creative Writing Program at U of T.
Jane plans to use her time at Hillier Hall in the production of her manuscript, revising existing poems and creating new ones. She offers, "I am not so concerned about the poems’ subjects – mostly I am eager to try new ways of writing by copying certain craft techniques and to try out others’ poetics. In particular I will look at the poems of Seamus Heaney, and Elizabeth Bishop, and the poems and essays of Anne Carson and Jane Hirshfield.” A stunningly delicious baker, Jane will be contributing her culinary skills to the Table Settings kitchen.
Five things Jane wants to see on PEC this year:
About Hillier Hall
Built in 1867, Hillier Hall is the second oldest town hall in Prince Edward County. It was built during the year of Canada’s inauguration, and has been a central municipal facility in Hillier for over 140 years. It was once a school and has been marked as a national historical site. The hall is activated by the local community for events and meetings. Hillier Hall remains a community hub for the hamlet of Hillier. It is a common meeting place for the Hillier Women’s Institute and Rec Committee, amongst others.
Barbara Brown’s current work is photographic documents of ephemeral arrangements using natural materials as a visual meditation in and about the landscape. Dealing with themes of memory and the passage of time, referencing the growing season and the inevitable decline of all things as observed in the garden. Ultimately she explores the question of belonging and making home in the place known as Canada. Through close observation and complex compositions she offers an immersive view of the more than human world. Her larger purpose is to become enchanted again with the environment and to not only see but to be seen by the land.
While at Hinterland Wine Company in Hillier, Barbara Brown plans to create Growing Connections a series of triptychs which combine three common genres in photography; landscape, portraiture and still life, to explore the connections between the land, the farmer and the food on our plates. By foregrounding the connection to the land and the farm workers she proposes to articulate the relationships between them and the food we come to enjoy. This project offers an exploration of where food comes from and intends to humanize the perception of contemporary food and the culture that ensues.
Here are a few things that Barbara plans to do in PEC:
About Hinterland Wine Company
Hinterland produces premium sparkling wine in Prince Edward County, Ontario. They are terroir enthusiasts, and their real passion is seeing vines grown in the appropriate geographical region and making wines from these regions. Their wine is made in the vineyard and each wine vintage is a historical snapshot of that particular season.
They planted their vines back in 2005 and the objective was to make wine that was consistent in quality year to year. One consistency about Ontario summers is that the summers are inconsistent! What they have found is that the soil and climate in Prince Edward County produces grapes with the kind of ripeness suited to making balanced and elegant sparkling wines.
Lynn Hubbs is a multidisciplinary artist based in Collingwood Ontario working primarily in textiles. When she is not experimenting with various mediums, her work often explores friendship and family relationships. While at Casa Dea Estates Winery in Hillier for the harvest, Lynn will be using the local fruit, vegetables and found farm objects to explore natural dyes and printing on fabric. Her favourite things to do while in Prince Edward County in September are:
About Casa-Dea Estates Winery
Casa-Dea is one of the largest and most established wineries in Prince Edward County. They have been growing with pride since the year 2000 and with over 65 acres of planted vines including Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc. They are focused on making VQA wines from 100% County grapes. The Founder of Casa-Dea, Domenic Di Pietrantonio, grew up in the small village of Lettomanoppello located in the Abruzzo area of Italy. At an early age, he left home to study with the monks and as he entered the priesthood, he was assigned to the wine cellar room at the monastery. The experience stayed with him and he fell in love with the true art of wine making— this underlying passion is why Casa-Dea Estates Winery exists today.
Frida Foberg is an artist and architect. Her work explores the space that floats between individuals, their habits, cultures and contexts. By working with spatial and often edible elements, encouraging integration and reflection, she poses questions that explore the relationships between self and others.
Frida says, "a harvest season in Hillier will give me time and space to continue to develop and unfold my body of work around the question, Why are we eating together." While in Hillier she plans to:
About Redtail Vineyards
Redtail is a 5-acre farm winery off the beaten path on beautiful Partridge Hollow Road. Re-opened in 2018 under new ownership, Redtail focuses on Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris produced in an old world-style with low intervention methods.
“In my work I explore the disquiet between line and empty space and between colour and form. Much of my work starts with gestural life drawings, and using intuitive embellishment the work becomes both representational and very much abstracted.”
At Broken Stone Winery in PEC, utilizing V. Jane Gordon’s, The Artist’s Inquiry Book, as a guide, Patti Randazzo Beckett plans to explore the elements of sound, kinetic wind energy, sun and shadow as a form of creative exploration on paper. The process is an integral part of and very much informs the final results. Patti first joined us in 2018 in PEC and then participated in Alchemy 2019 on Toronto Island. In addition to Hillier and now Broken Stone, her PEC favourite places include:
About Broken Stone Winery
A quiet backroad in Prince Edward County.
"The people, the soils, and the vines conspire to create the magic we call wine. The web of life is our terroir. We continually improve our vineyard biodiversity and soils. We will live in harmony with the earth and leave a legacy for future generations. Hard work and care for the land creates a vineyard whose beauty is captured in the bottle. "
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All photos courtesy of Donna Greenstein, Peggy Taylor Reid, J. Pierre, Kirstyn Mayers and Tonia Di Risio