Saturday, 28 May 2011

Green Veins update

Throughout the 3 years of undertaking the MA Art in Public at the University of Ulster Celia Spouncer has undertaken a series of projects ("or in art speak - interventions" as she puts it) in Buoy Park to explore the role of visual and socially engaged art in complementing and developing her practice as an ecologist and landscape architect with over 30 years work experience.

Sunflowers at Buoy Park, Belfast. Photo by Celia Spouncer.
The urban allotment proved a huge success with everyone. It was planted with wood strawberries, courgettes, runner beans and sunflowers which stood bold against the more formal amenity planting.

When I stopped to take a photograph of the sunflowers, a man with a bottle in a plastic bag with his dog sitting beside him, remarked how the sunflowers made him smile - like a living framed canvas.

Buoy Park is a vital green ‘lung’ in an increasingly and dramatically urbanised quarter - new developments seeming to include little or no accessible vegetation at all. Orchards and apple trees are an important resource for natural biodiversity. Bees. Bees. Bees. Underestimate the value of these amazing species at our peril. One third of the world food supply relies on bees for pollination. Besides, apple trees make a lovely specimen tree. We have planted 5 apples trees in Buoy Park with connecting with the history of apples and orchards over the history of Ireland, Ulster and Britain - Blood of the Boyne, Egrement Russet, Coxs Pippin, Kerry Pippin and Bramley Seedling have been planted.

As designers, planners, thinkers, strategists, developers, artists, businesses and people - with 7 billion mouths to feed in 2045 - is it unreasonable to suggest that we need to shift our prejudiced, constrained, narrow minded, framed-in /framed-out thinking to respond to local and global shifts, trends and issues? As part of this mapping and installation we will continue to make connections and check the pulse of the green veins.

Abundance is a lovely example of a project in Sheffield. It cuts against the grain of preconceived ideas of urban landscapes. Old fruit trees are revisited and fruit collected to handout to those in shelter hostels and others in need. The project now unfolds with new energies and imagination on urban agriculture projects - using unexpected spaces to grow, land share ideas, connecting an urbanised young crowd with what they put in their mouths.

Celia invites you to a wrap-up event to present her findings on Tuesday 31st May from 1pm-3pm. The event will include a review of issues around biodiversity, connection of young people to green space, resilience of green space for the future - and there'll be some fast slow food available to sample on the day. If you're interested in these issues or if you'd just like to relax in our indoor pocket park, come along to PLACE from 1pm.

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