Natural Precious Things

December 2016-ongoing
British Columbia, Canada

Natural Precious Things is an ongoing project that explores how objects found in nature act as a record of time, place, and value. Each time Spafford goes on a hike, walk, or camping, she collects small natural objects, arranges them, and re-creates them in her mixed-media style. She collects objects in various locations across British Columbia as a record of where she has been, what was available in a given season, and how this changes over the years.

Spafford studies each object carefully, selecting which medium will best capture the essence of the item; working with collage, string, watercolour, ink, graphite, and more. Her forms are spirited, dynamic, and light; and when arranged in composition, the objects form new relationships with one another-relationships that feel both arbitrary and familiar.

Spafford selects natural things that might otherwise be considered worthless, and elevates them to art objects, inviting us to reconsider what is precious. This is particularly poignant in a time of rapid climate change and political agendas that blatantly exclude environmental policy. She also alludes to museum collections in her compositions, exploring possible futures: will leaves and flowers someday be something we look upon as artefacts? As this project continues in 5, 10, or 20 years, will the objects available in a particular place or season change? Despite these considerations, Spafford’s work manages to remain delicate and hopeful, honouring our deeply human impulse to revere and protect the beauty of nature.