A Village Plot, IMMA Front Lawn, March – August 2016
A research project by Deirdre O’Mahony for A Fair Residency – IMMA | Grizedale Arts
On Sat 19 Mar A Village Plot unfolded on the front lawn at IMMA. Decorative potato ridges were made on IMMA's lawn using traditional planting techniques by the Loy Association Ireland. The project is the latest manifestation of the SPUD project and is part of A Fair Residency collaboration taking place this year between IMMA and Grizedale Art
Exploring notions of traditional knowledge, self-sufficiency and relationships between agriculture and identity, the project seeks to publicly investigate the idea of merging Land and Art as ‘Useful-Art’. The Loy Association members sharing their extensive knowledge and demonstrateing traditional techniques for converting a lawn for practical crop growing. Healthy and simple to grow, potatoes are an ideal crop for urban gardens.
The design of A Village Plot is taken from Margaret Stokes’ illustration for the title page of The Cromlech on Howth, is an early example of Celtic ornamentation used during the Gaelic revival.
While on residency at IMMA O'Mahony has been further developing the history of potato cultivation in State institutions. After the French revolution the Tuileries and Luxembourg gardens were used to grow potatoes with the encouragement of Antoine Parmentier, the former apothecary of Les Invalides Hospital in Paris. Parmentier wanted to change cultural attitudes to the potato as a sustainable food in France – an idea which became the starting point for A Village Plot. The planting takes the form of a decorative flowerbed on the front lawn, a way of bringing agricultural knowledge and craft to forefront within cultural institutions. Parmentier’s most famous event was a Potato dinner hosted at Les Invalides - the very building that inspired the construction of the Royal Hospital at Kilmainham.
Members of the Loy Associatrion of Ireland who travelled from Donegal, Leitrim, Louth, Roscommon, Dublin and Clare to make the beds at IMMA.
Two varieties of potato producing two different types of flowers will be grown. The Bloomer, an Irish Heritage variety mainly grown in County Clare, is aptly named as it has large, white flowers with a delicate scent and we are very grateful to Gerry Doherty at Tops Potato Centre who, along with Tom Barry from County Clare, generously donated Bloomer seed potatoes. Last year Irish SeedSavers lost their crop to blight so this Bloomer crop will be saved as seed and distributed for next year. The other variety being grown is the blight resistant Sharpo Blue Danube.
Members of the Loy Association doing the harvest.
Blue Danube Potatoes ready for cooking 28 July 2016 at IMMA.
A Village Plot was produced through project researched by Deirdre O’Mahony for the IMMA and Grizedale Arts residency programme.
See An Irishman's Diary by Frank McNally on A Village Plot.
Link to soundcloud of a Harvest To Plate Talk and Supper once-off gathering of artists and cultural practitioners on sustainable foods and urban gardening, as it relates to Grizedlae Arts' A Fair Land project and IMMA’s residency programme. The talk is introduced by Adam Sutherland, currently the director of Grizedale arts with Benoit Antille a researcher at the Cantonal School of Art of Valais, Switzerland and Deirdre O’Mahony
This talk took place on 28 July at IMMA.