Here is a quote from a favorite author of mine, Sharon Blackie, “This world does not belong to us. The world is a great dreaming being which shelters other beings, and we are just one among a countless number of species who live in her and of her.” This quote describes my feelings about the nature of the Earth perfectly.
I am not an herbalist, though I would love to be able to call myself that some day. I’m an artist and a wannabe herbalist for now. I am on a path using the tool I am most comfortable with, visual art, to make sense of the beautiful chaos of the world around me. I’m using art to connect to the magic and gorgeousness of the land and plants around me, and give expression to the emotions I feel when I’m in the woods or a wild meadow. I think that the kind of art I am doing is a co-creation with the land and plants.
MANDALAS -- In the summer of 2019 I began a series of flower and plant mandalas. Painting that series was part of my own set of rituals I decided to follow for at least a year, and I still am doing it three years later. It began as a way to honor the land I live on and my own efforts to feel connected. I had been making mandalas like these for a while, but I had never painted them or photographed them until I started the series. The mandalas I create are photographed for painting later in my studio and left out on the land as offerings.
LAND SECRETS -- this series allows me to indulge in my curiosity about the stories of the land near me and the properties and folklore of the plants growing there. It includes text collaged onto the canvas by stitching and layering with the oil paint.
Other bits I will often include are photographs of people and animals. I add these because I am inspired by another author, Robin Wall Kimmerer, who said in her book, Braiding Sweetgrass, that not only do we love nature, but nature loves us back. It makes me think that land that has been tended, farmed, or even trod upon by generations must notice us and may have a memory of those who touched the earth and plants there - not just the rosebush that your grandmother planted and cared for, but the weeds growing at the end of a cow pasture.
Margaret Shipman, May 2022
I moved to Vermont in 2004 with my husband when we fell in love with the community of earth and art loving people living here and making their voices heard. We live with our son and various pets in an old farmhouse. I spend my time painting herbs, flowers, weeds, leaves, and seasonal changes. My husband is an avid beekeeper and gardener, which keeps our land always evolving and interesting.
Brattleboro Reformer, September 2020, Adding Something Different, Kris Radder
Vermont Winter Vacation Guide 2017, Love Where You Live
The Commons, February 24, 2016, Drawing a Crowd, Richard Henke
The Commons, February 10, 2016, Shipman Paintings on Display at Amy's
Southern Vermont Art & Living, Winter 2013 - 2014, The Art/Life Balance, Arlene Distler
photo by Kris Radder of the Brattleboro Reformer.