IN VERDE VERITAS: An exhibition by textile artist Frances Dorsey featuring gardening expert Niki Jabbour

This exhibition that takes place at all PAVIA locations at the same time and opens on Thursday, June 7th, 2018.

In Verde Veritas

About Niki Jabbour

Niki Jabbour profile 2016.jpeg

Niki Jabbour is Canada's best-selling gardening author with over 130,000 books in print. Her first book, The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener, was honored with the 2012 American Horticultural Society’s Book Award, and her second title, Groundbreaking Food Gardens: 73 Plans That Will Change the Way You Grow Your Garden opens your eyes to an infinite number of tasty possibilities. In her latest book, Veggie Garden Remix Niki was inspired by her Lebanese mother-in-law and celebrates global and unusual edibles. Niki also writes for newspapers and magazines across North America including Fine Gardening, Birds & Blooms, and Horticulture. Find Niki on-air every Sunday from 10 am to noon on The Weekend Gardener on News 95.7 FM. Niki won the ‘Best On-Air Talent’ award from the Garden Writers of America for her radio work. Niki is also one of the owners of, which won ‘Best Garden Blog’ from the Garden Writers of America in 2017. Connect with Niki on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @NikiJabbour



About Frances Dorsey

frances d.jpg

I taught for many years in Foundation and Textiles, at NSCAD. Retirement now provides the amazing gift of time; to reflect, to pay attention to all the tiny miracles and tragedies that unfold every day in my garden, to appreciate the denizens of the plant kingdom. As my expertise in plant based dyeing and printing has grown I have become more and more interested in the plant life, and the soil beneath, that offers up such treasure. The astonishing visual variety of life forms inhabiting this part of the planet is at the same time troubling, magnificent and inspiring. Electron microscope scans of plant parts reveal aliens, geometry, logic and total craziness. Instead of watching the moon (as I did in previous work) I now find myself crawling around on the ground with my pocket microscope, discovering creatures and entities that I hardly know how to describe, and certainly could not have invented. 

The vulnerable, layered, multiple lives and functions beneath our feet are too complex for me to grasp. But, the effort gives rise to an imaginary world of shapes, forms and colours, and narratives that I aspire to articulate by combining processes that evoke a similar if more simple kind of complexity. Nothing seems more important to me right now than speaking beside such beauty and magic, in this moment where ugliness and ignorant thinking in the public sphere seem to be in the ascent.

Artist Statement: Frances Dorsey
Cloth has been my vehicle for understanding and speaking back to the world. Tactile, flexible, political, gendered, under the radar; cloth also derives from soil (plant fibres and dyes, woolly sheep and silkworms fed by leaves, recycled cellulose, even petroleum, now). The earliest plied string yet found is 40,000 years old; thus the making of cloth feels intrinsic to being human, and provokes a sense of continuity and connection within the larger world for me.

Working with cloth is slow and allows time for reflection. The act of weaving allows me to build the image or pattern directly into the structure; the idea is intrinsic to the material itself. The slowly accumulating weaving gestures that assemble something out of a pile of string on the floor has a weirdly sensuous aspect that is both enticing and horrifying. And, dyeing and printing the yarn or cloth permits a different kind of intervention on an already existing material, changing colours, patterns or graphic marks without altering the physical form of the cloth. Reconciling these two divergent impulses, one slow and controlled, the other recklessly fast and unpredictable, is a challenge, but they merge when I can weave a specific complex cloth and then dye and print on it, expanding an idea to make the sum greater than its parts.

For me an important concern is harm reduction. The textile industry is dirty, whether in fibre production, dyes, or wasted fabric from garment production. The plant dyes and pigments I use are either sourced locally or purchased from fair-trade, ecologically responsible producers in other parts of the world. Linen yarn from flax is historically significant, beautiful and also one of the least environmentally harmful fibres for textile production, so I weave primarily with linen, though often include small portions of silk and rayon yarn for richer texture and dye reaction.

For the last few years I have been dyeing almost exclusively on worn and discarded table linens. The lives lived around the dinner table, stories and histories experienced by such textiles that serve in such close proximity to us, seem embodied in the cloth; carrying their own gravitas as well as revealing the aesthetic pleasures of worn and frayed spots, mystery stains, odd repairs. Transforming such domestic cloth into objects for contemplation seems part of the same conversation to me, metaphorically as well as literally. Manipulating the mordants before and after weaving and physically constructing the cloth is an additional way of embodying the maker, and perhaps her/his stories in the cloth

A Curatorial Statement by Christopher Webb


There are lines that cross between art, sustainability, commerce, social justice and ecology. Change can happen in a heartbeat or take a heartbreakingly long time. 

We are not perfect. We are imperfect. We are flawed. Our imperfections are what make us even more unique. More beautiful. The oddly shaped, organic carrot that looks like a stumpy orange beet with two stems. The purple potato with lumps and bumps in all sorts of places that tastes delicious. The frayed fabric with stains that still feels perfect on our skin. The unintentional colours that change as they set into the fabric from orange to purple. 

It is how we treat each other and our intention that differentiates us.

Niki Jabbour is Canada's best-selling gardening author and is a well-known on-air on-air personality on News 95.7's "The Weekend Gardener". She uses heirloom and hybrid seed varieties and has a completely organic, year-round garden. She is one of the people leading the mainstream charge to get people to start growing their own produce.

“Our food is made in our own kitchens, grown in our year-round PAVIA Gardens and purchased from local suppliers. For the items that aren’t available locally, we endeavour to purchase from completely sustainable sources. We strive for zero food waste.”  - PAVIA Mission Statement

Frances Dorsey is a well-known arts educator and textile artist. According to her artist statement, she believes that the, "… textile industry is dirty, whether in fibre production, dyes, or wasted fabric from garment production." Currently she either sources her dyes locally or purchases them from fair-trade, ecologically responsible producers in other parts of the world.

Fabric that is re-used and dyed using organic plants. Plants grown from heirloom seed. Foods grown locally and sustainably. Produce purchased locally at a higher price. Consumers going to farmers markets and out of their way to purchase food grown locally. More consumers buying local thus keeping their money in their local economy and creating greater local infrastructure.

We are not perfect. Far from it. We are trying. We are trying to get better. We are becoming aware. We are becoming awake. We are risking failure to achieve something unique. We are seeing our set-backs as our set-ups. Our painful pasts becoming fruitful futures. We are weathering storms so that we can grow stronger for the next one. 

Our growth is our truth. 

We are growing.

- Christopher Webb, Curator