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  • Kim Senklip Harvey

Deep Land Work

I read this article this morning that speaks about "the invisible labour that makes creative life possible." Bonnie Tsui speaks about the vitality of the fallow, to play. That "fallow time is necessary to grow do the work, we need to rest, to read, to reconnect."

This is deep land work for me and it’s essential to my creative practice.

I’m In the midst of it now, I tweeted about taking two days off in a row and how I battled calling myself lazy. It really wasn't until the evening of the second day off that I could relax.

I've had a very transformational year and I avoided a physical burnout but I felt creatively exhausted. Up until about a week ago, I felt artistically vapid, I know I have to go deep into this month long deep work session.

I’m starting to feel substantial growth of Break inside of me and it's exhilarating.

"But aren't you just on a month long holiday Kim? Wish I could afford that."

My deep land work sessions are a part of the creative practice - The Work. It allows me to knock off some major projects, as well as gives me the space to catch up on smaller items. I've spent the first part getting Kamloopa in shape to be published - which has been a lot of work that makes me really joyous.

I get to - ha - get to prep for grants and other scholarship applications and all of this is interwoven with trips to my communities, land ceremony and kicking it with my friends. I went dancing with a friend the other night and I forgot how important it is to dance, to move and be moved. We all need to be dancing more and not like that "dance like nobody is watching" shit - dance like everyone's fucking watching.

This time also gives me the most important ingredient I need to tell stories - time to think.

I actively thought for 1.5 years before Kamloopa came out and then she came out in 3 big writing bursts. Fun fact: the end of Kamloopa came out in a 6 hour writing sesh at Banff.

I don’t fall into the isolated writer trope. Creation is entwined with the land, community and all the relations I have with those entities. In an ideal practice, I'd have the Fire Igniters (AD, dramaturgical team, key creatives) on payroll now and we'd be working and researching together. We'd be doing this deep land work as a tribe.

Deep land work opens up the spaces in me spiritually and creatively to connect with the Ancestors, listen to our community and reflect back the story as a totem of our presence.

I could not create without this protected space and it’s affirmed more and more as I embody it.

This means there are a lot of refusals for small contracts, composing a lot of "sorry I don’t have time for that" emails and straight up just no replies. Sorry folx, I just have to centre my work.

As an independent artist, I find the majority of people who contact me are unconsciously taking up time and space in these protected deep land work sessions.

I’m going to start putting auto responds on my emails that communicate I’m in a month long deep land work session and I won’t be responding to any emails and if you'd like to make an offer when I'm back to please contact me then.

This time and work space is allowing me to prepare for UVIC, which I'm approaching as a 2 year long deep work session to produce 3 new works. This is what my people need me doing right now and I cannot wait to enter into this creative practice meditation.

People are saying to me - oh Kim, you're going to go to school and get involved with the institution.

I am not going to join a board, no advisories - nope. The only committee I'd join is the have a good time one.

I think we all need to ignite the power in ourselves to thoroughly investigate what our creative practices are. To centre the fallow, the deep work and support artists to protect these processes for one another.

I would love to read more aboutprocess in grant applications, hear about them in conversations, see them in practice supported by institutions. 90% of the time I find it much more fascinating than the product of a play itself.

I gotta quit trash talking plays.

Having tribe members actively support this is integral. I told my grad supervisor Kevin Kerr you're going to have to help me protect this space, fend the wolves off with the fire of the work. He said yes :) I also heard that Rachel Peake the Associate AD at the Citadel contacted Kevin to proactively initiate how they could support the work. That is fucking dope.

But by far the greatest most thoughtful question I got asked about getting ready for school was "do you like White Spot?"

Yes, yes I do.

with Indigenous love,


p.s I'm working on creating an Indigenous Relational Agreement that will outline how non-Indigenous institutions can enter into relations with Indigenous artists. I'm pumped about it and I would not have thought about it without this time. The process is the art.

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