What is it we’re trying to sustain? For me, the meal is the emblematic, wonderful situation that sums up the whole point of sustainability.
I think in metaphor all the time and food has become this way of seeing the world not just in terms of ‘how are we going to feed ourselves in future?’ – this kind of doom and gloom thing – but also in terms of asking ‘what kind of society is it that we are trying to create as well as sustain?’.
When you talk about food, there’s a tendency to talk about ‘how much grain can you produce on that much land with that much water’. That’s very important, but you have to relate every conversation you have about food with the kind of life that you are talking about. It’s about a vision of society, an idea of the good life.
The table is a place where you don’t just share food, but you share ideas, you share love, you share conversation.
It’s a beautiful metaphor of the kinds of things that we’re trying to sustain. It’s society. It’s ‘good life’ in every possible sense – not just good in terms of wonderful food – but also good in terms of the ethics of what you eat. If I am hungry I have a practical problem. If you are hungry, I have an ethical problem.
This business of sitting around a table with other people, the decorum of the table, and the sharing food – it brings the social relevance of sustainability into the conversation.
A timeless meal, a meal that is enjoyed through time that has a past that we all intuitively understand, but a future as well, sums up for me the idea that food is life on earth.
“ashdenizen blog and twitter are consistently among the best sources for information and reflection on developments in the field of arts and climate change in the UK” (2020 Network)
The editors are Robert Butler and Wallace Heim. The associate editor is Kellie Gutman. The editorial adviser is Patricia Morison.
Robert Butler’s most recent publication is The Alchemist Exposed (Oberon 2006). From 1995-2000 he was drama critic of the Independent on Sunday. See www.robertbutler.info
Wallace Heim has written on social practice art and the work of PLATFORM, Basia Irland and Shelley Sacks. Her doctorate in philosophy investigated nature and performance. Her previous career was as a set designer for theatre and television/film.
Kellie Gutman worked with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture for twenty years, producing video programmes and slide presentations for both the Aga Khan Foundation and the Award for Architecture.
Patricia Morison is an executive officer of the Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts, a group of grant-making trusts of which the Ashden Trust is one.
Southwark Bridge will be closed to traffic and transformed into a magical feasting environment as part of The Mayor’s Thames Festival, London’s largest free outdoor arts festival.
Curated by artist Clare Patey, Feast on the Bridge is a spectacular communal ‘harvest supper’ that aims to reconnect an urban public with the growing cycle and invite people to reclaim a public space in the heart of their city, share a meal and a conversation, dance and make merry.
This year’s Feast on the Bridge is designed by a team of artists lead by theatre designer Cathy Wren, who has created a chorus of scarecrows to line each side of the bridge. Rows of banqueting tables will run the entire length of the bridge which is covered by specially commissioned tablecloths with illustrations and food-related stories collected from Londoners by artist Sophie Herxheimer.
This is Rubbish are very pleased and excited to be collaborating with The Arcola Theatre and Pangolin’s Ark. On Sunday the 11th April The Arcola Theatre, This is Rubbish and Pangolin’s Ark will host a day of sustainable food themed talks, activities and workshops, followed by a fine food waste and sustainably sourced feast.
We are currently scheduling the workshops and a detailed program of the day will be released soon. Tickets for the feast will also be on sale in the very near future. Watch this space!
If you fancy getting involved with a crew chopathon and baking session, we’re looking for volunteers to help prepare and cook the food on the Saturday, and volunteers to help prepare and serve the food during the evening event on Sunday. The soil service (waitresses and waiters) will be dressed up as soil particles, salad and vegetables and service will be very interactive and incredibly earthy!
Give us a shout if you are interested on helping out on day that is set to be super soily and sustainably wonderful.
Tomorrow is the RSA’s AGM; the house will be full of RSA Fellows here to discuss the organisation, its future and the new charter. We’ve decided to shamelessly exploit the presence of all these experts being in a single place on a single day by running a series of brain-picking seminars.
I’m doing one with the excellentConnected Communities project which gives me a chance to start talking about something that I’ve been working on for a little while now. Back in the spring I was researching the subject of artists working in productive gardens, talking to people like Fallen Fruit, Amy Francheschini – and more recently Clare Patey of Feast. There is a huge enthusiasm around for this stuff. How can we create new ways to garden? How can we create new places to garden?
That connected with an idea that was put forward by a Fellow and so we’re now on the verge of launching our own project, Rethinking the community garden. The recession has meant that there is a lot of land – particularly building land – which is on hold in cities right now. How can we change the idea of gardens as permanent fixtures to something that’s more flexible, something that maximises land use throughout a city turning semi-derelict land into an asset?
We want to attach that to Fellow’s expertise and experience to make the project come to life in New Cross Gate, South London, an area that Connected Communities are already working in. If you are an RSA Fellow and you want to come along to this, or to any of the other seminars, it’s not to late to register. We need bright heads to brainstorm along the the following lines:
How can we persuade landowners to let us use small parcels of land for one, two or more years, and leave them confident that there’s not going to be local resentment when they need them back?
How can we persuade gardeners to pour their work into a piece of land they might only have for a single growing season?
How can we help the users design gardens in a practical way on land that may only be available for 18 months?
Research shows that successful garden projects are often run by a small group of people. How can we make a successful garden project that engages a wide slice of the local population?
Thanks to Harmen de Hoop for the use of Grow Your Own Vegetables – again.
The artist-inspired Feast has become a remarkable part of London’s calendar, bringing together Londoners to produce food for a giant community meal. For the last two years it’s culminated in a giant Feast on the bridge on Southwark Bridge. Created by artist Clare Patey and colleagues, Feast on the bridge took part last weekend – another extraordinary example of arts transformational involvement in horticulture and community that I’ve written about earlier here, here and here.
RSA Arts & Ecology is teaming up with the RSA’s Connected Communities project to create a new garden based scheme in New Cross. More of that soon.