Doses of Empathy

This year I had the delight of meeting Syrian curator Abir Boukari at my studio, thanks to MAWA. She later invited me to exhibit in Övergångar / Transitions in Sweden, where she is currently living, and in September I shipped over a dozen tiny paintings in a cigar box. Here is a little about the show, along with images of the works:

1 Oct. 16 – 31 Jan. 17
The exhibition Övergångar / Transitions brings elements from the Art Festival & Flea Market, that took place in the neighbourhood of Fittja on the 17th September, to Botkyrka konsthall in Tumba. It explores the many facets of place, lost and recycled memories, as well as the new untold stories. 


“Doses of Empathy”   14 hand painted tins
In her work, Shelley is interested in caring and nurturing for others. The tiny hand painted landscapes that fit into a pocket, become portals to other parts of the world. They are created as “medicinal” paintings offering relief in times of deep distress. Over the years, the artist has given them away to people who need them, as a pharmacist fills a prescription.



The New Biennial for Art & Architecture in Botkyrka is an event that is inviting the community to explore the public space through new forms of art. It is a lo-fi and process based format focusing on the intersection between contemporary art, community engagement and architecture en route to the new arts institution in Fittja.
The first edition of the New Biennial opened in September 2014 when Botkyrka konsthall inaugurated the Fittja kitchen, the first addition to the new arts institution. The Fittja kitchen + FörOrten are two reworked shipping containers from South Africa, that have become an experimental platform for community driven art in the public space. The New Biennial had a prelaunch at the 14th International Architecture Biennale in Venice where Botkyrka konsthall / Residence Botkyrka presented the Fittja Pavilion in the gardens of Serra dei Giardini. The exhibition researched how a new arts institution could grow out of the specific qualities of Fittja and northern Botkyrka.*
Anneli Bäckman, curator, Botkyrka konsthall
Abir Boukhari, curator, AllArtNow
Miriam Andersson Blecher, director, Botkyrka konsthall
Abir Boukhari (Syria) is invited co-curator for the New Biennial’s Art Festival & Flea Market as well as an upcoming exhibition in Botkyrka konsthall’s current location in Tumba. Abir has been resident curator in Residence Botkyrka during the spring and summer of 2016. She is the co-founder of AllArtNow, a contemporary art centre located in Damascus until 2012 when the war closed it down. It now functions as a nomadic space throughout the world.

Gardening Win!

Finding a way to eat something I'd never tasted this side of the Atlantic...

Nussli Salat. My Favourite kind of salad green in Switzerland.

Nussli Salat. My Favourite kind of salad green in Switzerland.

There have been many things I've learned about cooking from living in Switzerland. When I was 19 yrs old I worked as an Aupair there, and was so incredibly lucky to have been with a family that not only had amazing taste in cuisine, but that showed me how to make delicious meals, teaching me throughout the year, and preparing meals with me, rather than just tasking me to make them. I've been able to recreate versions of those dishes here in Canada, but some ingredients have been unobtainable. One ingredient was "Nussli Salat"- until now!

Corn Salad, Mache, Lamb's Lettuce...

I picked my little plants, right up from the roots like beets, and was FINALLY holding something that looked just like my beloved green. It tastes delicious! Crunchy and delicate, and looks so pretty on a plate too.

Part of the struggle was with the translation. I hunted for the lettuce in grocery stores, trying things that might be similar. They weren't. I looked for seeds. I grew what I thought might be it. It wasn't. I grew a different type another year, and wasn't sure if it was. It seemed to stop growing, stunted. I kept the packet. 

During my time in Switzerland last year making art and attending my exhibition in Gstaad, I decided to try again. I came across some exotic lettuce on a seed website that looked like it might be it. I looked it up on Wikipedia and found other common names for it, and it seemed to describe what I was looking for. One of the names was on the packet I tried. It was so hard to judge the scale of the leaves from a cropped image, and the macro lens photography, when you're used to seeing it on a plate!

I found a seed packet at Shelmerdine's Garden Center here in Winnipeg, and finally had great success!


This year I realized that it only grows so tall, and then it's done.  You can leave it in the ground and it'll get more leaves, but it stays the height of little starter plants. 

I hope you get to enjoy it someday! I strongly suggest trying it if you are a gardener! If you aren't, I'll try to grow extra, and maybe try to convince a local bistro to grow and serve it!