Mike MacDonald’s Butterfly Garden at the Banff Centre for the Arts
Mike MacDonald said that his interest in butterfly gardens began in North-central British Columbia, when he felt unwell; an elder suggested, “When you are not feeling good you go find a butterfly and follow it and it will lead you to a medicine that will make you better.” Of Mi’kmaq descent, MacDonald saw the garden projects as sanctuaries for butterflies in the face of environmental degradation, but also as a call to pay attention to Indigenous knowledge and honour traditional ways of living with plants.
When I discovered this garden, I felt that I had found a place and space that would hold me in my personal investigations. Really as though I had followed a butterfly to the right place for what I needed…This residency allowed me to change my identity from being a dancer to being a performance artist. Following my instincts, really experiencing most of my physical practice outside led me to gathering objects: shovel, fencing.