We joined four other artists for a week at the Stone Boat Artist Retreat in Lanark County, Ontario, hosted by Quote Unquote Collective. We came to explore the land, forage for local wild edibles and document the various meals and medicines we made, while others worked on their artistic projects.  

It was there that we met Nyda, a classically trained ballet dancer, now living in Toronto and focusing on contemporary style dancing, who came to SBAR to work on some solo pieces she plans on performing around the city. We spoke to Nyda about her experiences at SBAR as an artist working in a natural setting.

“Being in nature is different, it’s stimulating in a calming way and I'm really attracted to being outside. In the city I have a studio space I can use, but at Stone Boat there is no confinement - there is so much more freedom and inspiration from the peace of it. The energy that is felt when you are surrounded by nature gives you more creativity. That is so many people’s faults now - they don't get out and connect with nature and then they lose so much of their own sense of self, because that creativity is where you find yourself too, you know?”

Nyda told us she has lived in the city her whole life and never had much opportunity to be in nature, but has always sought it out whenever she could. We went for a walk with her, exploring the 220 acres of Stone Boat Farm, nibbling on some of the wild edibles we came across and introducing Nyda to some of our favourite plants.

“Going on that walk, or being out with you guys, it was different. In the city you have to force yourself to be outside, because you won’t just be in nature, you have to force yourself. Being with you guys walking around on the acres, I had to force myself to be tangibly engaged, to be there. It’s hard to explain. If I was there alone, I would just walk and observe, whereas you guys are using your whole bodies, and all of your senses. You need to absorb nature through all of your senses, not just visually.”