We are Miche Fabre Lewin (BA; Dip. Art Therapy) and Flora Hardy (BA; Dip. LA; PhD). As two women artists and researchers, we are dedicated to enlivening cultural and ecological diversity through socially-engaged arts. Touchstones (originally known as Touchstone collaborations) was founded in 2010 to restore and celebrate the convivial practice of the arts in the everyday.
Flora and Miche with 'Wild Cultures' sculpture originating from their 'chrysalis' drawing. Commissioned by the Sustainability Institute and metal-crafted by CP Wessels, Artvark.
We are long-term Artist Researchers with the Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience (CAWR) at Coventry University, UK; the Sustainability Institute, Stellenbosch, South Africa; the Centre for Contemporary Art and the Natural World (CCANW); and the Centre for Future Thinking at Hawkwood, UK. We are members of the postgraduate teaching faculty with Crossfields International and Members of Art.Earth.
Miche’s arts practice explores the ecological self. This focus emerges from her African roots and a radical art therapy background. For over 30 years she has been devising and facilitating social healing experiences which engage diverse groups of people with intercultural and agri-cultural encounters. Since 2000, Miche has been dedicated to an ecological gastronomy that reanimates artisan skills and culinary traditions. As the medium for personal and political transformation her convivial food actions, contemporary rituals and edible installations make visible the connections between the health of the body, the well-being of communities and the regeneration of ecosystems. She is currently completing her doctoral thesis at the Centre for Agroecology Water and Resilience (CAWR), Coventry University. Here Miche’s TEDx Soweto talk 'Cooking, Culture and Conversations'.
Flora studied initially as a geographer and plants-woman, following through to train as a Landscape Architect and set up an ecological landscape practice. Her PhD at the University of Cambridge explored the potential of community design as a pathway towards socially just environments. As a landscape practitioner, her work in the UK and internationally responds and promotes biodiversity in the city. Projects include playable spaces, habitats for healing and community-led ecological restoration. Within her arts practice Flora scripts drawings as visual improvisations that are emergent thinking forms for visioning with people and the more-than-human world. She is currently engaging with intuitive approaches to farming with nature as part of her exploration within touchstones ‘What a farm can be’.
Within our collaboration, we facilitate learning as Artist Researchers at CAWR and in partnership with the Agroecology Academy and Learning for Sustainability (LSF) at the Sustainability Institute, Stellenbosch, South Africa. We are both part of the Crossfields International postgraduate teaching faculty on the Masters of Arts Philosophy of Social Innovation: Researching Holistic Agroecology. This innovative Alanus University Masters programme is delivered in close cooperation with Crossfields International and its associated research community. We have been visiting tutors on the MA Narrative Environments at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London.