In Conversation With Roni Guetta From Traumfrau

I had a great conversation with Roni Guetta from Traumfrau a truly enlighten way to party the night way whilst being part of a community. In fact Traumfrau is “Brighton’s  most unusual queer night”coming to you every month from a different venue. It incorporates all sorts of playful performances in settings such as outdoor festival-like parties with fire pits and a pool to club nights all with great DJs. Every event is unique and orchestrated by Traumfrau’s team, its collaborators and the input of it’s supporters.

http://www.traumfrau.co.uk/
I hope you enjoy the conversation as much as I did!

Every Apple Tells a Story

Last Tuesday it was great to be able to revive the old tradition of Conversation Piece with Every Apple Tells a Story during which we were joined by expert Peter May, Co-founder of the National Collection of Sussex Apples. It was great to see some old friends and some new faces too. During the event’s lively conversation, Peter introduced a variety of apples from Sussex to the participants; starting with Saltcote Pippin which is directly traceable to a tree in a particular lane near Rye and is the most oriental of the Sussex Apples. The Golden Pippin was also mentioned together with the Tinsley Quince which is named so thanks to the intense quince perfume it emanates even though the fruit does not taste of quince.

As I mentioned the conversation was lively and many participants were curious and asked many questions about apple season, the value of keeping apples seeds and the work that is taken forward by Peter and the Collection. Apparently it is very difficult to grow healthy apple trees that will give good fruits on chalk; most of the varieties present in Sussex do not originate on the Downs, but the majority come either from north of the Downs or in areas, like valleys and ridges, where organic matter has been able to accumulate and transform into soil.

A very interesting part of the conversation regarded the art of grafting apple trees in order to have a consistent tasting fruit. In fact it is very difficult to get a good apple from a seed as every seed contains a different genetic make up which will influence the way the fruit tastes. To be able to have a fruit that always has the same characteristic it is necessary to clone the plant through a process called grafting – a section of the original tree is attached to a root stock that will continue growing and produce the fruit from the original tree.

It was great to see representatives from the Dundee Urban Orchard and from the Millennium Seed Bank Project at the event both of whom contributed to the event’s great debate. Hope you enjoyed this little glimpse of Every Apple Tells a Story and feel free to comment or write to me directly.

Millennium Seed Bank Conversation

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This is a conversation I had with John Dickie, Assistant Head of Collections at the Kew. I met up with John at the Millennium Seed Bank Project in Wakehurst, West Sussex, where we talked about biodiversity and the work that the MSBP is doing to contain the worst effects of climate change with regards to declining biodiversity, but also how the project works with international partners from all over the world. It was a very interesting conversation and I hope you enjoy it.

Excitingly, John will be joining us for Conversation Piece: Every Apples Tells A Story on the 9th August at Fabrica from 2:30pm together with Peter May, co-founder of the National Collection of Sussex Apples hosted at the Brighton Permaculture Trust.

 

Reflections on UNIDEE

During my time at UNIDEE in Biella, Northern Italy, I learned  about the land and the intricate layering of traces and presences in Biella, a process called  Territorialisation. This is what produces a sense of place and of belonging, a common sense among the people living on the territory, but also it underlines who has the power to make a mark on the land. Angelo Turco, a leading expert on the subject, says that Territory is about control. To make space into place and occupy it, then divide it and define what that place has to be and make the rules of the place. So, from my understanding, Biella is a beautiful land dominated by the Catholic Church, the state, industrialists, practices of communal sharing dating back to the medieval times and, more recently, a conflict between migrants making a place and locals straggling to give up already long abandoned spaces to them. The Pistoletto Foundation is embedded in the city in dialogue with it and working towards a new way.

Below are some random  picture of my stay in Biella.

 

 

 

Lambs Tales

The excursion to Whitehawk Hill for Lambs Tales, the first of the Ecologies of Place walks was a time of discovery. We were greeted at the bus stop by one of the Brighton & Hove Lookerer volunteers, Jane Hawkins, who showed us the way to the top of the hill through a coppicing wood and a series of allotments. On the way  Jane introduced some facts about a mysterious archeological site the sheep from the Lookerer project share the space with, Whitehawk Camp, a causewayed enclosure where archeologists think activity commenced around 3650BC. The inhabitants of the camp (Brighton’s first residents!) were probably using the camp on a periodic basis to meet and carry out ritual activities including feasts and ceremonies. Causewayed enclosures lie on the boundary between hunter/gathering and settled farming based lifestyles: these monuments therefore represent one of the most significant cultural transitions in human history. Below are some reconstruction from the Whitehawk Camp Community Archaeology Project

Brighton & Hove City Ranger, Paul Gorringe, joined us shortly afterwards to talk about the Lookerer Scheme and  why this is a prefect way to enhance biodiversity but also do justice to the archeological site, whilst saving the council some pennies.In fact Whitehawk Hill is home to one of Britain’s rarest and richest natural habitats: ancient chalk grassland. But this natural landscape is only as old as sheep farming that, combined with  range of activities over time, has created a variety of habitat types and around 40 different plant species can be found in a square meter of turf. The hill provides a habitat for a diverse range of flora and fauna including rare and threatened species of butterfly, orchids and invertebrates. There are also important local varieties of fruit trees on the hill. Paul explains to us that sheep are ideal for keeping the grass short and nutrient poor so to encourage  the growth of smaller wild flowers that would not get space to grow in a nutrient rich soil where bigger bushes and trees would quickly take over and cover the ground.

 

From the top of Whitehawk Hill there are spectacular panoramic views of the whole of Brighton & Hove, the sea and the Downs. It felt like the right place for a the huge sacred construction with impressive white ditches, high banks and the tall wooden palisades; a sacred space that would have conveyed a sense of mystery to a neolithic person walking through it to reach the centre. I can’t help but see a very strong connection to Pistoletto’s piece at Fabrica, Whitehawk Camp gives me the impression of a huge labyrinth in the landscape, a place where our ancestors gathered to be together, a place of beauty and spirituality.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meet The Artist -First Appointment

This Saturday I spent the day in the gallery with the exhibition, the volunteers and members of the public. It was very exciting to spend time there and understand the work better.

The highlight for me was sharing conversations with people in the gallery. One member of the audience shared his experiences of using art to bring together his street and create a stronger community bond in the neighborhood.  But also as an artist and business owner I asked him what, according to him, makes a place of enduring value and why Brighton & Hove seems to have reached a good balance between community and business prosperity. He said that generally people who want to set up a business in Brighton & Hove have a desire to contribute to the community and give back in one way or another, but also the city is a unique place that allows this contribution to happen. He briefly lamented the lack of a Modern Art Gallery with an art collection here, but we then swiftly moved on to discussing the Open Market redevelopment and how it is much better than it was, but how it could have been even better: a lighter, more luminous environment.

Another person I talked to has been living in Brighton & Hove for three years and was originally from Chile. I asked him what made this a place where he could live and he said he reckoned it was the movement, “in Brighton things are always moving” he said.

I also engaged with volunteers who, although intrigued with the question, said they needed to take their time with the answer.

In general people seemed intrigued with the question but baffled and unable to pin point what in particular makes Brighton & Hove a place of enduring value. I must admit I feel the same. As a foreigner too, I ask myself how Brighton has become what it is? Has Brighton, as a collective entity with a collective memory, consciously worked its way to being an open accepting, prosperous place. Can we see this in its history? Has it been a slow layering of random acts that has instead made the city what it is? Or it is a mixture of both?

Sensing Place, an artist perspective

Having been thrown in at the deep end of this residency I am working on figuring out “my line of inquiry” which is embryonic at the moment. So I have decided to put aside making any decision for now and, instead, I will relay to you, my audience, the fantastic and confusing first act as an artist-in-residence at Fabrica gallery which was to attend an unusual and very interesting workshop organised by artist and curator Magda Tyżlik-Carver called Sensing Place.

Sensing Place is part of a bigger project called Ecologies of Intimacy, a hybrid research and practice-based investigation into the ways in which digital and networked technologies influence the way we experience intimacy, and our ability to create relations with animated and inanimate objects that are intimate.

This workshop promised to focus on senses and sensations, experiencing memories, emotions, ideas and speculations, to sense place and data by engaging in practical explorations of sensory stimulants in/with natural and artificially generated environments and materials. During this workshop two projects were presented where the focus was on sensing environment as place, and the body as a sensor that connects us with it.

Archaeologist, anthropologist and geospatial specialist Judith van der Elst blew my mind with her projects, The Periodic Table, Rural Renaissance/Montefeltro – the title is taken from a Primo Levi book and Odorama. In collaboration with Prof. Farina from the University of Urbino (Italy), artists and technologists, and using biosemiotics – the study of the myriad of communication between and among living systems – this group of collaborators work to create robots that are attuned to nature, enabling recognition and navigation through sensory environments. Van der Elst and her collaborators are also working toward the development of a novel mapping system which takes into account the sensory richness of the land, specifically including and highlighting the materiality of information and experiences that many of us consider to be ephemeral, intangible, transient…sounds, smells and other sense-able signals in the Earth’s sphere developing digital tools and mobile technologies (www.machinewilderness.net). She also has decided to volunteer working the land in local farms where she lives in Italy.

Developed over years by artist Raewyn Turner, Byte in the Land is a multimodal art project that exists as an artwork, a wine tasting performance, and a workshop. The process of mapping emotional words to fragrances and flavours brings together reflection with olfactory ciphers in order to create an art experience that may be felt in the body.

I’m not sure I was able to harness the whole experience and definitely got a bit tipsy and distracted before anything could be “felt in the body”. Nevertheless the workshop was very interesting and we learned to add scent to wine by using plants from the surrounding area, essential oils and synthetic food flavourings which we all agreed smelt vile. We all worked hard at mixing and matching different  scents to try to create a smell that would match our emotional word or place. And we ended by sharing the smelly cup.

On the day we explored the fragrance of contemporary existence  with a sound to smell apparatus called Accidental Piano developed in collaboration with Brian Harris. Using synthetic and natural smells harvested in Brighton area we mapped the smells onto our emotions, stories and memories and used Accidental Piano to expand the olfactory map into aural sensations.