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What Will The Harvest Be?

Publication Date
  • K300 Landscape Design
  • W190 Fine Art Not Elsewhere Classified
  • Design


This public space was designed for the Friends of Abbey Gardens, commissioned by Newham Council, and received funding from the London Development Agency (£95,000), Arts Council London (£15,000), Newham Councillors Local Fund (£20,000), Groundwork (£45,000), Community Spaces and The Tudor Trust. The DLR Art Programme supported the initial stage. The project invited communal growing and harvesting of vegetables and flowers, now successful over three seasons. Neglected wasteland was transformed into a unique open-access Harvest Garden where anyone can grow and harvest, set in an urban site in Newham, East London, protected from development by English Heritage owing to its mediaeval and Victorian ruins. The local area is changing, bringing in new transport links, residents and commuters, echoing the mix of travellers, commerce, debate and food production of the Cistercian Abbey. Returning the land to production was crucial to the project, influenced by wartime 'Dig for Victory' and early 20th-century Newham 'squatters', the ‘Plaistow Landgrabbers’: unemployed men who squatted on a piece of empty land to prove that the unemployed really wanted to work, the slogan painted on the wall behind their camp providing the project name. Pope discussed the ways artists create new audiences in ‘Bata-ville: We are not afraid of the future’ in the book Searching for Art’s New Publics (2010). Related lectures included ‘Brief encounters: The future of public art in East London’, Contemporary Art Society (2011), ‘This land Is your land’, CCA Glasgow (2010), and a presentation at ‘Art in the Open’ curators’ day, London (2010). The project was winner of the ‘Inspiring Food Garden’ category, ‘Capital Growth Grow for Gold’ (2012) and featured in The London Garden Book A-Z (2012), RHS Growing Communities (2012), the exhibition ‘Hands-on Urbanism 1850–2012’, Architekturzentrum Wien, Austria (2012) and at Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst Leipzig, Germany (2013).

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