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Arts & Environment: Part 2

In this post, Dan and Melissa share recent projects and ideas informing Arts & Environment programme themes, around their involvement with Radmin and Trade Show, Bristol.
In 2019 Dan & Melissa are developing a joint initiative called Starter Culture, drawing inspiration from how microcultures work in sourdough bread-making as a model for how an enterprise or learning event can be a catalyst for change, growth and learning.
“Starter Culture seeks to nurture cross-disciplinary partnerships with venues and organisations for co-learning and creative exchange.”
In February 2019 Starter Culture held a stand at Trade Show, ‘a group exhibition that exercises the function of art to exchange, present and enact different economic practices and cultures of trade’ at Bristol’s Cube cinema.’
Starter Culture’s stand involved a microscope, jars of sourdough starter culture and a bowl of dough where participants were invited to handle, discuss and learn about bread-making.

Our stand, opened some really fascinating discussion with various visitors. We met FoAm “a network of transdisciplinary labs at the intersection of art, science, nature and everyday life. Guided by our motto – grow your own worlds”
We provided small samples of sourdough starter, that various visitors took home to use.

Earlier in the day. at the Radmin, festival in Bristol about art and exchange. So many participants brought fascinating foods and drinks from their home to consume and share. By the tea and coffee table were interesting alternative milks, coffee by Kate Rich’s feral trade and below some bees honey gathered from the gutter above someone’s house in Germany.

Kathrin Böhm presented her company drinks project, ‘an art project in the shape of a drinks company that links the history of East Londoners ‘going hop picking’ in Kent to the formation of a new community enterprise, which brings people together to pick, process and produce drinks in east London today.’ We were each given blackcurrant juice on arrival.
Further info of Radmin delegates here
In 2016, Dan and Melissa both took part in an online reading group facilitated by Brave New Alps, Take Back the Economy… by J.K. Gibson-Graham, Stephen Healy and Jenny Cameron where some seeds of Starter Culture were sown.
Dan has developed several art and learning projects with the outdoors and gardens. Teaching Land with Professor Vanalyne Green at Leeds University invited 1st year Fine Art students to use an allotment rather than a studio space. Student visits to the University estates greenhouses provided opportunities to learn hands-on about seeds, germination and gardening. His project Thinking Space for the North with Grizedale Arts, explored the imaginative possibilities of a derelict off grid National Trust farmhouse overlooking Lake Coniston in the Lake District. Cultural legacies of landscape, romanticism, (John Ruskin used to live at the sister farmhouse) were explored alongside practical work to renovate the site as an arts project / residency space and eco b&b.
Melissa was a founding member of Phytology where she planted a field of medicinal weeds for the public to harvest as part of an artist-led project. She previously designed and built a sustainable studio using timber reclaimed from an exhibition at the Barbican (re-purposing art to make art). She explored sustainability, use and value by putting two small buildings and a field centre back into use in rural Mid-Wales. Melissa is currently working with microbes and learning how to use a microscope so she can see her fellow non-human collaborators.

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Posted by author: Melissa Thompson
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One thought on “Arts & Environment: Part 2

  • It’s great to read how it’s all developing since the first workshop. I’ve lost track of what actual meets are happening – where and when, although would love to attend a future one. I’m also interested in e-meets.

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