Various Artists

Archive Exhibitions (21 June to 31 August 1997)
The garden as a gallery. A changing crop of artworks exploring gardens, cultivation and land use.

Catchcrop was an exhibition of contemporary art presenting a ‘crop rotation’ of contemporary artworks created by fifteen artists in exhibition plots in the gallery. In rotation, one plot remained ‘fallow’ for exhibition visitors of all ages to get their hands dirty – muck in and try out some ideas for yourself.
The gallery was divided into four plots: like garden beds, allotments, fields or blocks of buildings in a street plan. The plots were filled with compost to provide all the artists with a common ground on which to work. Each artist was allowed a growing season of a week to cultivate their artwork and one or two weeks to display the products of their labours. This ‘rotation’ of artists mirrored rotation cropping methods, designed to sustain the earth’s fertility and get the most out of it. A ‘fallow’ period is essential so the soil can rest and rejuvenate. In the exhibition, plots lay fallow for a week after each artists season is spent. The ‘fallow’ bed provided an opportunity for visitors to use the materials on hand and try cultivating their own ideas – putting some new ‘life’; back into the plot. The rotation of artists was staggered so that the layout of the beds changes from week to week. At any time visitors found two beds complete and on show, and one under construction, in its ‘cultivation’ period.

Participating artists included:
Terry Flower
Terry Howe
Emily Jolley
Kitty O’Shea
Jonathan Swain
Nick Bodimeade
Jane Sybilla Fordham
David Parfitt
Philippa Dutton
Vanessa Dell
Belinda Dell
Nathan Dell
Matthew Miller
David Powell

Terry Flower, June 1997
My work reflects my thoughts and feelings about the landscape. My tools are photography and sculpture in combination. I want to convey the physicality of the landscape. Where I use photographs or photocopies I am interested in their substance as much as what they ‘picture’. They are not representations of something real they are real in themselves. Where I use a border it has as much to convey as the photograph it embraces, it is as important, and part of the whole.

I became involved with Catchcrop because it touches issues that are close to my heart and deals with ‘landscape’, the main theme in my work.

My intention is to create a piece of work that talks about ‘loss’. The idea of losing not only landscape in a rural sense but what it means to be connected with it. To some extent 20th century ‘man’ is fast losing touch with his roots.

The title of my piece is: Recollection, a conversation with my father’s spade.

Jonathan Swain, May 1997
Brought up on a co-operative of market gardens in Sussex, I migrated to the city highlife as soon as was possible. Loitered at art school and on the fringes of the TV industry for too long and now, if I have to, would describe myself as a video artist doing sculpture.

The restructuring of this society and all societies on an egalitarian basis has been my main concern since I was little and somehow this always seems to seep out in my work. But slowly though, as I veer towards death, I can feel the trickle down effect of spiritualism taking me over which is as confusing to me as it has been to all humans throughout history.

My mum and dad grow lettuce, celery, cucumbers, peppers and aubergines. So I have had many bad childhood experiences with compost and manure. But these compare nothing to the crap that comes down on high from the Big Three supermarkets (Sainsbury’s Asda and Tesco) that my parents supply. Basically, the supermarkets are running a price-fixing cartel that is to the disadvantage of everyone except the companies themselves. Dad describes them as the new feudal barons and it’s certainly how they behave.

So, if this art piece isn’t about godliness or the human condition I hope it’s saying grow your own, buy local or forever feed on a bland, shrink-wrapped and nutritious diet of radioactive pap.

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