STOLBIE X RUTH ADAMS FINE ART COLLAB COLLECTION
Marijuana in Abundance - Written by: Ruth Adams
My Aunt Iris was the daughter of a Greek banker, and grew up in the social swirl of Cairo in the '30s, '40s and '50s. One of her favourite words, was "abundance", and it had nothing to do with money. I have a vivid recollection of her enthusiasm for the farmers' market in Seattle's Pike Place Market (the ancestral home of Starbucks). She delighted in the luscious and colourful fruits and vegetables, fish, and cheeses, found "in such abundance!"
There's an almost spiritual moment, when we acknowledge the abundance around us...our blessings. I am blessed with wonderful people in my life. Iris was one of my favourite people...
My Dad met Aunt Iris and Uncle Vic in a mining camp in Saudi Arabia, in the years immediately after World War II. Before returning to Canada, in the early '50s, he would travel with them through France, Italy and England. Iris, Vic, and Vic's mother (a Russian Comtesse), would later immigrate from the arid Middle East to lush, green East Vancouver, buying property two doors up from my grandparents. My Grandmother - who loved reading history books and biographies - was blown away by a photo of la Comtesse and her husband, a Russian General, seated by the poolside with Nicholas and Alexandra. Yes, the Nick and Ali!
For someone who grew up with servants, and going to restaurants, she was an excellent cook. She was a foodie, before there were foodies. From her, I learned so much about vegetarianism, organic food, meditation, yoga, astrology, and healing.
Iris always had time for me. I remember being five years old, and sitting on the wicker chairs of her veranda, feeling so very grown up and ladylike, learning afternoon tea etiquette. Years later, sitting outside our family tent at an ashram in the Kootenays, she would tell me stories of the elaborate parties her mother would attend in Cairo...and the dresses she would hand sew, letting seams in or out for even the tiniest change in weight.
I always felt so at home in Iris' homes - the one she shared with her husband, and the ones she lived in after her divorce. She had a wonderful sense of style, combining antiques and Bohemian "hippy" pieces, with art collected from her travels around the world.
She spoke English, French, Italian, Greek, a little Russian, and some Arabic. Her musical sounding voice, with its laughing lilt, is what I remember whenever I think of her.
On the Westcoast this Summer, in the city by the sea she so loved, I finally met with her granddaughters, my beautiful "cousins" Tamu and Zia, known in Vancouver fashion, film and television circles as the Stolbie Sisters (Zia has done Meghan Markle's hair).
They have their own website, and clothing label: Stolbiebrand.com Their slogan is "Stolbie: for the socially a-wear". They take their commitment to environmental and social issues seriously. Over lunch at the Vancouver Art Gallery, they asked if I would like to design marijuana leaf inspired clothing, in time for Canada's legalization of cannabis, on October 17th. Of course I said YES!!! We three, each had a sense that Iris was present...that this was a full circle moment in our lives.
Who would have thought that a full circle moment would lead to such a run around? Looking for a marijuana leaf to photograph was an adventure in itself...a trip, as we used to say back in the '60s! I don't smoke anything, so I sure didn't have any plants on my balcony! I called the Toronto Botanical Gardens to ask if they had a plant or two to photograph...the guy on the other end of the phone, laughingly admitted that while cannabis is a botanical, they don't grow any! Next, I nervously called the Toronto Police, explaining my mission. When the officer stopped laughing, he explained that while marijuana won't be legal until mid October, I would not be arrested for taking pictures. He couldn't tell me where to find a plant, and suggested I just Google "Dispensaries".
To save you the trouble, clinics are basically doctors' offices, where you can get a prescription for marijuana. They don't have plants, not even to pretty up the office. Dispensaries are like pharmacies, filling those prescriptions. They dispense the packaged product. They don't have fresh plants either. Head shops are like funky kitchen supply places. They don't have plants either, at least not out front. You can blow out a lot of birthday candles waiting for some people to call back...
I even went down to Toronto's Kensington Market district, and asked around. You would have loved to see the expressions on people's faces, when I asked if they knew where I could find a marijuana plant to photograph. No one - not even the hydroponics guy next to the smokin' living room - had seen a plant. Do I look like a narc?
The opposite of abundance is scarcity. Just as I was becoming paranoid about the scarcity of marijuana in Toronto, and whether I'd ever be able to create a marijuana dress design, a Facebook friend invited me to her home. Nicole is the beautiful mother of a boy who was waiting for a liver transplant at the same time as my late husband was waiting for his. It's wonderful to see her son thriving! As a teenager, Nicole had surgery for scoliosis. She is in severe pain, and medical marijuana is an enormous help - she doesn't have to take opioids, or liver-damaging Tylenol.
I imagined Nicole would have a plant or two on her kitchen windowsill...not the enormous plants growing in her backyard! Marijuana in abundance! They're the size of Beefsteak Tomato plants! I have renamed Woodstock, Ontario - Weedstock! The leaves were large and healthy, and I photographed whole plants, as well as single, twin, and triple leaves, in both brilliant sunlight, and shadow.
The elongated geometric shape of the cannabis leaf is ideal for clothing design. Just as marijuana is coming out of the closet, I've designed canna leaf inspired dresses, draped kimonos, belted kimonos, long, flowing peignoirs and other items to fill your closet!
This has been a harsh and cruel Summer in British Columbia. Soon after I left the clear, blue skies behind, heavy smoke from wildfires blanketed the province. There were weeks, when the sun was a coral coloured ball in a smokey grey sky. Weeks, when the sky appeared to look like sunset...at high noon. More than 1,252 million hectares of forest have been burned.
This is close to my heart. It is close to the hearts of Tamu and Zia, too. For every item purchased on stolbiebrand.com one tree will be planted in British Columbia. I am so proud to be even a small part of the reforestation of BC. Please support this project, that trees will once again grow, where fire raged. Abundance!
Photo: Ruth Adams