– By Paula Booker (Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision Programme Developer, Auckland)
Fascinated by the industrious green worlds that exist all over Auckland, painter Jean Stewart started visiting market, community and private gardens to capture people at work growing food. One garden network connected her to another until she had developed a series of en plein air paintings of working gardens, all over Auckland. These lush colourful oil impastos, created fully in situ, really capture some of the organic qualities of each garden environment, and certainly the bright Auckland light.
Growing the Future was a fun, artistic exploration and celebration of our Auckland food growing communities, organised by Jean with help from Urban Pantry and Art at Work. Some of our Auckland Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision staff are keen gardeners too (ok, just me!) and thus the archive was delighted to be brought on board to facilitate and present a screening of Jess Feast’s 2013 documentary Gardening With Soul, following Sister of Compassion Sister Loyola through a year’s changing seasons in her large Island Bay garden. A capacity crowd of about 30 braved the less than inviting dark and windy night and headed down to the waterfront silos.
From 17 to 27 April, the silos on Auckland waterfront were a source of inspiration for those interested in gardens and growing food. During the day, visitors wandered amongst Jean Stewart’s large-scale painting series Workers in Dirt, attended art workshops, contributed to the growing art installation (children were welcome and encouraged), and visited the stalls and seed trading tables. One of the silos also housed a display garden by Urban Pantry and Unitec landscape design students, to offer inspiration and ideas on how to grow edibles in small spaces, such as balconies.