Bryce Aspinall

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Petals of Venus

The Amulet of Compassion

Petals of Venus

The Amulet of Compassion

Petals of Venus

The Amulet of Compassion

Set within the confines of a dimly lit, abandoned barn, Petals of Venus is a symmetrical land art installation that unfolds on a sandy floor at its center. It takes the form of an amulet, a sphere with a diameter of 4 feet, featuring four extending swords of equal sizes, positioned to the North, East, South, and West. In the heart of the installation lies a flowery symbol composed of five petals, crafted from locally sourced sheep's wool. The central core of the flower boasts rich, deep red hues reminiscent of sumac. Surrounding the woolen flower, a diamond-shaped structure, crafted from hay and framed with charred wood, creates an intricate boundary. Both the flower and the diamond rest within a spherical frame constructed from maple twigs. At various positions within this frame, four milkweed seed pods house nervine plant medicine, nestled in the hollows of the pods and wrapped with hemp. On the outer surface of the spherical frame, gently touching, four swords are positioned. The North and South swords are crafted from charred wood and cow hip bones, with the bones oriented toward the center of the sphere. The tips of these two swords are made from quartz, wrapped with hemp and handspun wool. The tails of the East and West swords, also constructed from cow hip bones, are enveloped in charred wood and woven willow that binds them together. At the very tips of these two swords, triangular stones, swathed in wool, point outward.

Artist Biography

Artist Biography

Bryce is an illustrator and artist living and working in Montréal, QC.

Connection To Place

The installation was gently rooted in the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the Kanienʼkehá꞉ka, Omàmìwininìwag, and Anishinabewaki Peoples. This nurturing land, where I grew up with my three siblings, parents, animal kin, birches, clay soil, medicine gardens, found unity in an abandoned barn where maple syrup used to be crafted. It now resides in a safe nest where transition and protection are inherent and unique to my journey– a place that is cyclical, transformative. Threading this installation, I have reconnected with a giving place that continually nourishes my vitality through various healing cycles, especially in the face of trauma recovery. I acknowledge the privilege of having access to healing grounds, abundant resources, and spaces to explore my connection to place. From my heart, I wish to honor those who nurture tenderness on this land and work collectively to reclaim, protect and advocate for the Earth, and redistribute to communities. Trauma encompasses many layers, from ancestral and community trauma to individual, environmental, and racial trauma. I extend my hands to all who have experienced or are experiencing trauma, oppression, or assault. I reach out to you and embrace you with the deepest empathy and compassion that resides in my heart. I feel. I notice. I acknowledge. I hold. I receive. As a white, French descent, cis-woman, able-bodied, sister, daughter, community herbalist, artist, educator and academic student with access to resources, gardens, learning, and social support, I acknowledge the profound privileges I have in learning about Indigenous Knowledge, ethnobotany, fiber arts and psychology. As a herbalist and land artist, I am consistently inspired by nature's resilience and the collective power to challenge systemic oppressions and capitalism. Trauma is emotionally draining; it is laborious, financially challenging. Through love, accountability, and the sharing of free and accessible medicine, I aim to redistribute my privilege and support communities and individuals affected by trauma and stress. As I cultivate my garden and continue to grow, create, heal, walk, and be nurtured by the medicinal treasures of the forest, I offer blessings to the turkey tails that support my immunity, the willow that weaves gratitude, the milkweed that seeds transformation, and the maple trees that impart wisdom, protecting my vital energy. I honor all that nurtures my capacity to narrate my healing journey, especially in the context of trauma recovery. As I unfold my privileges, I commit to ongoing fund redistribution to solidarity herbalists, Indigenous and POC community organizers, artists, youth alliances, and cooperatives to financially support cultural heritage, land back and community safety. I plant seeds of love and care in our collective garden.

Tale

In a time long past, when the Earth was yet young, and the night sky was a braid of wonders, there lived a celestial body known as Venus. Second planet from the Earth, the twinflower to the Moon, Venus, a Goddess of love and compassion, held a profound place in the hearts of the people. Within the vast cosmic web, Venus embarked on her retrograde descent into the underworld. Her ethereal presence beckoned to all who dared to venture, inviting them to reclaim, acknowledge the shadowed recesses within, receive the energy givers of the Earth, and nurture the deepest abysses of their spirits. "Thine heart, in rhythmic beat, unfurl my delicate petals. Avow the shadows to bleed, as Earth's elixir infuses thy soul. In this sacred union, awaken like the vernal season, finding strength in the profound depths, guided by ethereal nymphs, embarking upon a graceful metamorphosis. May this be thy enduring legacy." Amidst the enchanted embrace of nature's mystical cauldron, a treasured artifact of great significance was unveiled—the Amulet of Compassion. This sacred relic became the guiding light for those embarking on the arduous journey towards trauma recovery, channeling the potent magic of natural remedies. In harmony with the eternal dance of the moon, the evening and morning stars, and the very Earth itself, the Amulet provided a safeguard akin to obsidian and an impenetrable iron shield. At its heart, the Amulet took on the form of the Petals of Venus, also known to the above world as the pentagram. Each petal was meticulously seeding the five stages of trauma recovery: safety and stabilization; remembrance and mourning; reconnection; mindfulness; and self-compassion. As the warm, life-giving light of the sun bathed the amulet, it became infused with the magic of natural medicine, nettle, roses, chamomile, hawthorn, lemon balm, nurturing the path of recovery. Through the gentle zephyrs that carried the rustling leaves, the Amulet whispered secrets of interconnectedness and inner strength. In the stillness of the night, the moon, with its serene glow, invited all to delve into the depths of their sorrow, to ignite the elements that unearthed their innermost emotions, and to honor their innate capacity to restore balance and empathy. This enigmatic artifact unveiled the cyclical nature of trauma, where the darkest nightmares were condensed into the depths of night, only to resurface as enlightening moments through the gentle touch of compassion. Those who sought its guidance discovered solace in their healing journey, much as calendula soothes the skin and sumac provides immunity to the heart. They unearthed their power and anger, altering the trajectory of their destinies, guided and supported by the eternal web of Mother Earth. In this realm, they emerged fortified and resilient, knowing that they were safe and protected. The Sun, The Moon, the Air, and the Earth, would be the archives of their perennial continuity.

Interview

ET:

We're excited to have you here. To start off, we'd love to get to know you! Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do!

I am an Aries Sun, Taurus Moon, Aquarius Rising, and Taurus Venus. I am a community herbalist, educator, and artist with privileged knowledge in Ethnobotany. Currently, I am on a path of learning as I've returned to the University of Concordia to pursue Art Education, specializing in Trauma-Informed Pedagogy. I'm also extending my knowledge through Herbalism for PTSD and Trauma stress, which I'm engaging with Nicole from Solidarity Apothecary.


I have a deep interest in somatic healing and holistic/alternative medicines. In my community space, I tend to gardens, witchcraft potions and ferments, collect earth blessings, and take walks in the mountains. There are a few special places in Tio'tia:ke that hold a special place in my heart, such as the mountain, Parc Maisonneuve, Parc Angrignon, La Falaise, Bâtiment 7, and Jean-Talon Market.


I have a profound connection with Rudbeckia, Lavender, Echinacea, and Trilliums, as they bridge my present with my childhood memories of caring for gardens and the tree I used to climb to observe ladybugs. I love cycling in the winter, shelter building, rock climbing, working with plant fibers, exploring archives, studying entomology (especially spiders and butterflies), and reading books. I have a deep love for harp music, 90s anime, ginger, orchids, cats, blue jays, tea pots, carnivorous plants, Shiatsu, Qi Gong, and dancing. I like to think that what I do is a form of caring for the Earth's seeds in my own unique way, through my art and holistic practices. But most of all, I love to love.

ET:

We're excited to have you here. To start off, we'd love to get to know you! Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do!

I am an Aries Sun, Taurus Moon, Aquarius Rising, and Taurus Venus. I am a community herbalist, educator, and artist with privileged knowledge in Ethnobotany. Currently, I am on a path of learning as I've returned to the University of Concordia to pursue Art Education, specializing in Trauma-Informed Pedagogy. I'm also extending my knowledge through Herbalism for PTSD and Trauma stress, which I'm engaging with Nicole from Solidarity Apothecary.


I have a deep interest in somatic healing and holistic/alternative medicines. In my community space, I tend to gardens, witchcraft potions and ferments, collect earth blessings, and take walks in the mountains. There are a few special places in Tio'tia:ke that hold a special place in my heart, such as the mountain, Parc Maisonneuve, Parc Angrignon, La Falaise, Bâtiment 7, and Jean-Talon Market.


I have a profound connection with Rudbeckia, Lavender, Echinacea, and Trilliums, as they bridge my present with my childhood memories of caring for gardens and the tree I used to climb to observe ladybugs. I love cycling in the winter, shelter building, rock climbing, working with plant fibers, exploring archives, studying entomology (especially spiders and butterflies), and reading books. I have a deep love for harp music, 90s anime, ginger, orchids, cats, blue jays, tea pots, carnivorous plants, Shiatsu, Qi Gong, and dancing. I like to think that what I do is a form of caring for the Earth's seeds in my own unique way, through my art and holistic practices. But most of all, I love to love.

ET:

When told about the theme for this exhibit, how did you begin the creative process?

I began my creative process by jotting down keywords in my journal while navigating PTSD during a challenging moon cycle, marked by chest pains, nightmares, and solitude. The process unfolded as follows: release, somatic, healing, care, death, rebirth, afterlife, mindfulness, and Venus. These keywords formed the foundation for the tale of Venus, symbolizing one's journey towards trauma recovery.


My creative process often germinates from poetry and stories that narrate the healing journey I'm uncovering. Space and emotions hold significant meaning in my installation practice. Selecting a space that can amplify the nurturing messages at its core is crucial to the entire experience.


I chose a space that held personal significance as I grappled with PTSD. I had returned to my hometown and my childhood surroundings, tending to the gardens we had planted. The primroses blooming across the land from there emitted a soothing presence that calmed me.


I decided to explore the nearby trails and stumbled upon the barn where they once produced maple syrup. The forest exuded a sense of composure and serenity, as if the Mother Maples were embracing me. From this walk, my creative ideas started to take shape, and my selection of materials began to unfold. When choosing materials, I conscientiously reflect on reciprocity, striving to incorporate as many invasive species as possible while centering the resilience of Mother Nature.

ET:

When told about the theme for this exhibit, how did you begin the creative process?

I began my creative process by jotting down keywords in my journal while navigating PTSD during a challenging moon cycle, marked by chest pains, nightmares, and solitude. The process unfolded as follows: release, somatic, healing, care, death, rebirth, afterlife, mindfulness, and Venus. These keywords formed the foundation for the tale of Venus, symbolizing one's journey towards trauma recovery.


My creative process often germinates from poetry and stories that narrate the healing journey I'm uncovering. Space and emotions hold significant meaning in my installation practice. Selecting a space that can amplify the nurturing messages at its core is crucial to the entire experience.


I chose a space that held personal significance as I grappled with PTSD. I had returned to my hometown and my childhood surroundings, tending to the gardens we had planted. The primroses blooming across the land from there emitted a soothing presence that calmed me.


I decided to explore the nearby trails and stumbled upon the barn where they once produced maple syrup. The forest exuded a sense of composure and serenity, as if the Mother Maples were embracing me. From this walk, my creative ideas started to take shape, and my selection of materials began to unfold. When choosing materials, I conscientiously reflect on reciprocity, striving to incorporate as many invasive species as possible while centering the resilience of Mother Nature.

ET;

Tell us your magic item.

The Magic Item is “The Sword of Isla”, and serves as a poignant homage to the symbolism of the Three of Swords tarot card. This unique item is a singular sword crafted from cow hip bone, charred wood, handspun local wool, and clear quartz. While it stands as a tangible representation of the traditional imagery associated with the Three of Swords, it also offers a distinctive interpretation.


In its upright position, "The Sword of Isla" conveys a powerful message about emotional and physical pain, wounded by words, actions, environments. It beckons the viewer to engage with the sword on an intuitive sphere, perhaps in a reverse manner. It acts as a bridge between feelings of vulnerability and the potential for safety and protection.


The clear quartz incorporated into the sword emphasizes the notion of clarity and healing. It signifies a path towards release, encouraging to explore the depths of emotional wounds. But more importantly, "The Magic Item" honors our innate capacity to hold strength and inner forgiveness in the process of healing. The Magic Item" offers a visual and tactile means to reflect on the resilience of the spirit and the capacity for transformation in the face of adversity.

ET;

Tell us your magic item.

The Magic Item is “The Sword of Isla”, and serves as a poignant homage to the symbolism of the Three of Swords tarot card. This unique item is a singular sword crafted from cow hip bone, charred wood, handspun local wool, and clear quartz. While it stands as a tangible representation of the traditional imagery associated with the Three of Swords, it also offers a distinctive interpretation.


In its upright position, "The Sword of Isla" conveys a powerful message about emotional and physical pain, wounded by words, actions, environments. It beckons the viewer to engage with the sword on an intuitive sphere, perhaps in a reverse manner. It acts as a bridge between feelings of vulnerability and the potential for safety and protection.


The clear quartz incorporated into the sword emphasizes the notion of clarity and healing. It signifies a path towards release, encouraging to explore the depths of emotional wounds. But more importantly, "The Magic Item" honors our innate capacity to hold strength and inner forgiveness in the process of healing. The Magic Item" offers a visual and tactile means to reflect on the resilience of the spirit and the capacity for transformation in the face of adversity.

ET:

Who or what influences do you look to for inspiration?

I draw inspiration from my readings on somatic awareness, radical ecology, care, and meditation. The core sources of my creative inspiration are Mother Nature and community, particularly in the fields of entomology, botany, holistic medicine, dreams, love, and tenderness. This diverse blend of influences forms the foundation of my creative process, infusing my work with a deep appreciation for the natural world, the interconnectedness of life, and the power of compassion, empathy, and emotions.

ET:

Who or what influences do you look to for inspiration?

I draw inspiration from my readings on somatic awareness, radical ecology, care, and meditation. The core sources of my creative inspiration are Mother Nature and community, particularly in the fields of entomology, botany, holistic medicine, dreams, love, and tenderness. This diverse blend of influences forms the foundation of my creative process, infusing my work with a deep appreciation for the natural world, the interconnectedness of life, and the power of compassion, empathy, and emotions.

ET:

If you were a flavour of ice cream, what would it be and why?

I am not so much of an ice cream kinda fairy, mostly love sorbet, especially the Yuzu one at Sappa. Although, I would love to experiment and make my own, which would probably be a combination of roses- lemon balm-milky oat ice cream. That sounds pretty magical!

ET:

If you were a flavour of ice cream, what would it be and why?

I am not so much of an ice cream kinda fairy, mostly love sorbet, especially the Yuzu one at Sappa. Although, I would love to experiment and make my own, which would probably be a combination of roses- lemon balm-milky oat ice cream. That sounds pretty magical!

ET:

What are reading right now?

My readings at the moment consist of two books: “Reweaving the World: The Emergence of EcoFeminism” by Irene Diamond, and “Lettres au Frère Marie-Victorin: Correspondance sur la sexualité humaine” presented by Yves Gingras.

ET:

What are reading right now?

My readings at the moment consist of two books: “Reweaving the World: The Emergence of EcoFeminism” by Irene Diamond, and “Lettres au Frère Marie-Victorin: Correspondance sur la sexualité humaine” presented by Yves Gingras.