Contingency is a multi-faceted project undertaken for a residency at Testing Grounds, Melbourne. As a open ended research project it included a garden installation, mixed media works on paper and a food event with dishes I created and cooked from six species of edible weeds for a closing event.
This work is part of an ongoing project that negotiates contemporary global issues of food sustainability, agricultural practices and biodiversity in the urban ecology. It follows a recent project ‘The Citizens Horticultural Advice For The Right To Food Bureau’ where participants made clay seed bombs to take home and sow in a public space, with the goal of creating an urban network of guerilla farmers to grow a crop of edible weeds to cook for this residency. But ironically, Melbourne’s consistently hot and dry summer of 2016-17 meant a new strategy to not only cultivate them but to also grow them in a gallery space. My network of potential urban farmers were instead invited to participate with the evolution of the labyrinth weed garden and the weed tasting event to mark the residency’s end.
Throughout the residency I utilised Testing Grounds public programs and open days to engage audiences with each stage of the project development, from planting seedlings to re-purposing single use plastic water bottles and obsolete Tupperware brand containers as self watering wick-pots. Presented as part of the installation was a collection of drawings and paintings of foraged or cultivated plants I have cooked with people during previous projects, in tandem with a reading space as the conceptual backdrop to the labyrinth style edible weed garden. The selection of books included diverse topics from global power systems, indigenous agriculture, essays on environmental philosophy – biodiversity and sustainability in the face of climate change, to The Futurist Cookbook by Marinette and a guidebook of edible weeds to reference the six plants grown and cooked for the project, their place of origin and historical use.