Passion is something that bekky O’Neil and Keith Del Principe, owners and operators of Cardboard Reality Farm & Studio, talk about frequently. As artists they are passionate about the medium they work in, animation, but says Keith, “The subject matter is the environment. Now we’re making art as farmers. I’m a farmer making art. I farm my heart out.”
“We make animated shorts and music videos,” bekky explains. “We collaborate with other artists, teach animation workshops, build puppets and manipulate them frame by frame. So we are educators, farmers, and artists. We run a gift shop and have a market garden at the farm. We are at the Cobourg market every summer.”
Animation is a painstaking craft, Keith comments. “We are sometimes drawing the same frame hundreds of times, over and over again. So we look forward to the spring and getting outside. Farming taught me stamina and gave me body strength. We are passionate people who work hard every day.”
“We know that art can feed you too. And maybe field grown vegetables are also art,” says bekky
bekky says she and Keith met in Vermont in 2008 at Bread and Puppet Theatre, which did large outdoor political puppet shows. Next they ran a small puppet theatre company called “Quality Slippers Productions” and have been creating and engineering puppets for stage and screen for 13 years. After they married, they both studied at Concordia University and graduated from the BFA program in film animation in 2016.
Subsequently they moved to bekky’s family farm in Northumberland. There they enjoy animating from their small studio in a converted shed on the farm, working in the ever growing gardens and using digital media to make ideas about regenerative agriculture and permaculture more widely available and accessible. They don’t live alone on the farm but share their space with 4 cats, Dylan, Coraline, Buddy and Wikipedia, 2 Alaskan Malamutes, Kodak and Maple and 21 Indian Runner ducks.
bekky sums up their ambitions: “We’re passionate about creating a physical space for dialogue and education. We’d like to become a happening art farm – an evolved studio practice. We’d like to build the infrastructure so we can have artists in residence and offer internships in film-making. A place where super-interesting artists and activists would come out for a time to present and discuss their work. We’d love to have that happen. The hardest thing is finding funding to produce your work and find an audience. But as long as we chug along, we’re going to get somewhere. So much has already been planted – we now have to be patient.”