Scything the Lea Valley
Ida Fabrizio for two short scything sessions on
Wedneday 15th and
Tuesday 28th June
from 10am to 1pm.
London E10 7QB
e-mail email@example.com or call 07941 696515
Scything the Lea Valley
Friday 22nd April from 6.30pm at Phytology
Presentation and talk by designer Gaja Mežnarić Osole
about her work with the Ljubljana based Re-generacija collective and
their specific interest in Japanese knotweed.
Bethnal Green Nature Reserve
London E2 9RR
Join us at the campfire, with food and drinks as always.
This event will take place whatever the weather.
Saturday 23rd April from 2.00 – 4.30 pm
Japanese Knotweed Foraging Walk and Syrup Making Workshop
at Eastbrookend Country Park in Dagenham.
Meet at Dagenham East Station (District Line) at 1.30 pm or at
2pm at the Millenium Centre in Eastbrookend Country Park,
Dageham Road, RM7 0SS.
About Japanese knotweed
Japanese knotweed is best know in this country as an invasive plant that needs to be controlled and it is obligatory to prevent the spread, see also www.gov.uk/guidance/prevent-the-spread-of-harmful-invasive-and-non-native-plants
The plant is classified as non-native and due to the damage its strong and quickly growing root systems cause to the built environment – it’s considered a huge economical and ecological threat. Yet the plant is edible – tastes like rhubarb – and contains a high level of antioxidants, which make the plant valued also for it’s medicinal qualities.
Japanese knotweed is mainly introduced through construction works,
when ‘infected’ soil gets imported into new developments, slowly spreading it from place to place. That is why the plant usually grows on ecologically damaged land, neglected urban areas or down the streams and rivers – in areas where the land and its soil was not treated without the necessary care.
Japanese Knotweed is best to be foraged from the beginning of April until end of May – that’s the time when the plant is still young and juicy. The shoots are great to use as as a substitute for rhubarb or asparagus, in drinks, snacks, pies ect.
We are planning to use the crop from the foraging walk for a new Company Drinks soda made in collaboration with Square Root.
About Gaja Mežnarić Osole
Gaja is a Ljubljana (Slovenia) based designer working within Re-generacija collective. Their work focuses on re-introducing urban foraging as a collective performance through spatial and social engagement. The exploration assembles a harvest gathered through picking up edible plants, walking, talking to people, interviewing and facilitating workshops, cherishing spontaneity and unexpected encounters.
Focusing on the accepted ways of confronting the problems of domination of invasive species the designers started looking for ways to present Japanese knotweed not as an economic and environmental threat, but as a new opportunity to learn from contemporary natures and initiate new synergistic partnerships. By introducing ways to use Japanese knotweed as a local source of cellulose, a tasty snack or a natural dye they started to encourage new community economies, field works and had a chance of working within a trans-disciplinary field of collaborators in a rather organic, ever-learning manner.
About Company Drinks
Company Drinks is a Barking and Dagenham based community drinks enterprise which links the history of east Londoners ‘going picking’ in Kent to the set up of a new kind of company. As part of our year-round public programme of activities we organize monthly foraging walks in local parks. The Japanese knowtweed walk on Saturday 23rd April is part of our seasonal picking tours and we hope to turn the crop into another delicious Company Drinks soda.
Company Drinks has been initiated by the artist group Myvillages, with support from Create and the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham. www.c-o-m-p-a-n-y.info
About Phytology and the Bethnal Green Nature Reserve
The Phytology medicinal garden was established at the Bethnal Green Nature Reserve in 2014. This urban physic garden provides free food and medicine for local and surrounding communities.
The garden has been sown with over thirty-two varieties of indigenous plants common to the streets of London and urban ecosystems across the country.
Generally regarded as ‘weeds’, each plant has been selected for its historic and on-going use in phytotherapy and traditional medicine.
The physic garden grows in pollution free soil to ensure our plants are safe and suitable for daily use. Visitors are invited to harvest from the medicinal garden with the support and guidance of the Phytology team. Phytology aims to challenge ideas of use, value, resilience and the function of wildness within our urban ecosystem.
For more information about the events and to get in contact please e-mail
or call 07941 696515
Friday 26th February 2016 from 1-4pm.
Institute of Contemporary Art, The Mall, London SW1Y 5AH.
As part of the ICA’s Culture Now series.
Company: Movements, Deals and Drinks in an art project in the shape of a community drinks enterprise. Artist Kathrin Böhm (Myvillages) and writer Miranda Pope (both editors of the recently published Company: Movements Deals and Drinks book), together with contributors economist David Boyle, journalist Seb Emina and Marijke Steedman, curator at Create, will be mapping out the projects ambitions, its status as an art work and the practical reclaiming of the term ‘company’
Initiated in 2014 by international artist group Myvillages Company: Movements, Deals and Drinks links the history of east Londoners going fruit and hop-picking in Kent to the set-up of a new community drinks enterprise in the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham. Between the early 1800s and the 1950s, up to 250,000 East Enders—mainly women and children—would leave London every summer to go fruit and hop picking in Kent, a ‘working holiday’ in the countryside which offered some income, fresh air and temporary independence from the everyday drag. This unique urban-rural relationship and culture survives vividly in the memories of those who went, and is the starting point for Company: Movements, Deals and Drinks. Based in the outer London Borough of Barking and Dagenham the project revisits the lived culture and shared history of the ‘picking days’ whilst extending the collective labour process further to complete a whole cycle of production, trade and reinvestment into a new kind of company.
The talk is followed by an informal get together at the Company Drinks bar in the ICA studio (until 4pm).
Myvillages is an artist group founded in 2003 by Kathrin Böhm (UK/DE), Wapke Feenstra (NL) and Antje Schiffers (DE). The work addresses the evolving relationship between the rural and the urban, looking at different forms of production, pre-conceptions and power relationships. Current and recent projects include Vorratskammer / Pantry at House of World Cultures in Berlin (2011), Good News from Nowhere at the Architecture Foundation London (2013), Forms of Lending Shape, A–Z Marzona Collection, Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin and International Village Show (2014–2016) for the Museum of Contemporary Art Leipzig.
Kathrin Böhm is a London-based artist with a long-standing interest in the collaborative making and extending of public spaces through methods of collective production, distribution and usage. Böhm is the leading artist on Company: Movements, Deals and Drinks.
Miranda Pope is a London-based writer, editor and curator. Her work focuses on relationships between experimental curatorial practices and notions of the ecological and she is currently completing a PhD in the Art Department at Goldsmiths College.
The project was commissioned by arts organisation Create and was selected as the winner of the 2014 Create Art Award. It is supported by the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham. In 2015, the project registered as a Community Interest Company with the name Company Drinks.
The Company: Movements, Deals and Drinks book is the third book in an ongoing publication series with Jap Sam Books and designed by Mind Design.
To book a place please visit the ICA website.
For all other enquiries e-mail kathrin(at)myvillages.org
or call 07941 696515.
Thursday 28 January 2016 from 7.30pm
7a Vyner Street
London E2 9DG
About the book
The countryside is so often portrayed as a place to be visited for holidays or to recharge the batteries, as a safe place of fresh air and cream teas. By looking at the English countryside through the lens of the everyday, Rural Modernity, Everyday Life and Visual Culture, attempts to disrupt this picture. This book explores rural as an inhabited and practised realm with lived rhythms and routines and an as an active and complex site of modernity.
In each chapter, pieces of visual culture including scrapbooks, art works, adverts, photographs and films, are presented as tools of analysis which articulate how aspects of the everyday might operate differently in non-metropolitan places. The book features new readings of the work of significant artists and photographers such as Jeremy Deller and Alan Kane, Stephen Willats, Anna Fox, Andrew Cross, Tony Ray Jones and Homer Sykes through this rural lens. Together with analysis of visually fascinating archival materials including early Shell Guides and rarely seen scrapbooks made by the Women’s Institute.
Published by Ashgate, 2015
About Rosemary Shirley
Rosemary Shirley is a Henry Moore Institute Research Fellow 2015-2016 and Senior Lecturer in Art Theory and Practice at Manchester School of Art, Manchester Metropolitan University. She is interested historical and contemporary representations of the countryside, particularly in art, heritage, media and branding. In 2012 she curated the exhibition Always Greener: Views from the Contemporary Countryside for PM Gallery, Ealing and is currently working on a large scale exhibition about the idea of the rural idyll for 2017 at Compton Verney Art Gallery in Warwickshire.
The Haystack starts at 7.30pm and there will be food and drinks.
The book will be for sale on the evening – special launch price!
Nearest Underground Station is Bethnal Green.
For further information contact Kathrin Böhm.
E-mail: kathrin (a) myvillages.org
Mobile: 07941 696515
First 2016 Haystack:
Rural Modernity, Everyday Life and Visual Culture
Book launch and talk with Rosemary Shirley
Thursday 28th of January at 7.30pm at
7a Vyner Street, London E2
Community Haystacks AGM
Saturday 23rd January at 2pm
at Waterworks Centre, off Leabridge Road
A date for the AGM of the Community Haystacks Group will be announced soon.
The October Haystack will take place on Friday 2nd October in Leipzig, in collaboration with Miriam Wiesel and Axel Schmidt who are running regular events in Berlin, called the Kreuzberger Salon, which also address rural-urban relationships.
More details to be published soon.
The event is part of Myvillages’s International Village Show at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Leipzig – a two year long exhibition and events programme that brings the various projects and interests of Myvillages together under one roof.
A two-day community hay harvest on the Walthamstow Marshes, with scything workshops followed by a public talk on the Saturday and haystack building, scything competition and a ‘bring your own picnic’ on Sunday afternoon.
Come and celebrate Lammas Day on Walthamstow Marshes
with the third annual Community Haystacks Event August 1 & 2nd 2015
Community Haystacks is a celebration of an ancient piece of common land – Walthamstow Marshes in east London one of the last expanses of semi- natural marshland left in London. This community haymaking event brings together local residents, conservationists, historians, activists and artists who join together to recreate the pre-mechanical hay harvest and revive traditions of scything and commoning. Now in it’s third year the community hay harvest takes place over two days on the date of the ancient feast of Lammas.
The idea to hold the event came from two local artists, Kathrin Böhm and Louis Buckley who work in close collaboration with the Lea Valley Park rangers. In 2015 the Community Haystacks Group was set up as a small and informal group dedicated to running and developing this annual event. By reinstating the traditional hay harvest to Walthamstow Marshes they aim to create a social and cultural event that helps explore the huge diversity of communities and individuals that use and interpret the land, and to discuss the broader connections between urban and rural experiences and practices.
Austrian scythe expert Clive Leeke will teach scything workshops on the first day and on the following day there will be a competition culminating in a communal haystack making and bring your own food picnic. Throughout the two days there will be areas of grassland set aside for those who already know how to scythe. On Saturday evening a group of invited researchers and activists will present current concepts and issues of commoning and land use, to be followed by an informal discussion and drinks.
Sat 1st Aug , 10.30-12.30, 1.30-3.30pm & 4.00-6.00pm
Learn how to scythe with Austrian scything expert Clive Leeke.
Refreshments and equipment are provided. £5 per session.
Commons and Commoning
Sat 1st Aug, 7-8pm
Bring your own picnic and join us for an informal public talk with invited guests about the history of the land and related cultures of commoning:
Avery Gordon, writer and sociologist
Joe Ward, New Lammas Land Defence Committee
Gill Baron and Simon Fairlie, The Land Magazine
Jacob Stringer, New Cross Commoners
Sun 3rd Aug, 1.30-3.00pm
For the first time we are running a scything competition on the marshes,
with local food prizes for
Best quality sward
Best overall performance and style
Sun 3rd Aug, 12-4pm
Come along to help us build a large community haystack on the marshes.
Bring your own picnic and join a guided tour around the marshes with the park rangers at 1pm.
A large area of the marshes will be dedicated to scything, and open to those who already know how to scythe.
Vestry House Museum have a selection of archive photos and documents about the Walthamstow Marshes on display.
For centuries the hay on the marshes was cut on Lammas day but this major social event was reduced by mechanisation to a single farmer on a tractor. By inviting local people to join in the hay harvest Community Haystacks hopes to reintroduce the social element. While the volunteers cannot physically cut all the grass (it is far tougher and ranker than crops grown annually for harvest) the hay making event gives people a chance to gather on this common land, stimulate debate around access and learn new skills The event comprises talks, workshops and competitions, picnics and haystack making.
The haymaking takes place on Lammas Meadow in an area that was formerly used widely for grazing and haymaking. Since 1985 the land has been designated a Site of Special Specific Interest (SSSI) and is now managed by the Lee Valley Regional Park. Originally drained for farming by the Anglo-Saxons, the marshes between Hackney, Leyton and Walthamstow in east London have been used for everything from football pitches and aeronautical test flights to a dumping ground for rubble from the blitz.
About Community Haystacks
The Community Haystacks started in 2013 on the initiative by local artists Kathrin Böhm and Louis Buckley in close partnership with the Lee Valley Park Rangers. In 2015 the Community Haystacks Group was set up as a small and informal group dedicated to running and developing this annual event.
Press Community Haystacks 2015
The “Community Haystacks” group first formed in August 2013 to organise and run a public event on the Walthamstow Marshes (East London). This event aimed to encourage the general public to access and make use of common land, and also to share information about the public, agricultural, political and cultural history of common land.
The objective of “Community Haystacks” is to provide public events, including talks, exhibitions, seminars and workshops, which relate to the history and current use of former and current common land, and to all land that is open to public use.
‘Haystacks’ are monthly events held in various locations across London to present and talk about rural issues and practices within an urban context. The series started in May 2013 and organised by the artist Kathrin Böhm.
See www.h-a-y-s-t-a-c-k-s.net for further details.
How to get there
The marshes are behind the Lee Valley Ice RInk on Lea Bridge Road in Hackney.
The bus no 48 stops right next to the Ice Rink.
The way to the site will be sign-posted from there.
This is an outdoor event with no cover or toilet facilities. The nearest toilets are at the Lee Valley Ice Rink.
Mobile: 07941 696 515
On Wednesday 10th June
7pm at 7a Vyner Street,
Bonnie Fortune is a Copenhagen based artist and writer whose work focuses on ecological themes. She recently compiled and edited ‘An Edge Effect: Art and Ecology in the Nordic Landscaped, published by Half Letter Press, 2014. The book is a collection of interviews, essays and case studies about cultural work dealing with the environment. Other recent projects include ‘The Alphabet of the Anthropocene‘ with Brett Bloom, a large-scale public display system of key words defining life in our current anthropogenic era. She has collaborated since 2006 with Bloom as Let’s Remake on artistic research projects around ecology and habitat, including commissions for the city of Urbana, IL and public works in Copenhagen, Denmark. They co-run www.mythologicalquarter.net where they write regularly on art, ecology, and public space use.
For more information contact kathrin(at)myvillages.org
Tuesday 12th May 2015
7pm at 7a Vyner Street, London E2
‘Settlers in England’ is a new film by artist-filmmaker Ian Nesbitt about the Oxcroft Land Settlement near Bolsover, high on a hill in the North-East corner of Derbyshire. Between 1934 and 1939, the Land Settlement Association (LSA) established 1,100 smallholdings within 26 settlements across the country, the objective of which was to re-settle unemployed workers and their families (mainly miners at Oxcroft) on the land. The Oxcroft settlement was comprised of 40 plots, each of which was made up of a semi-detached cottage and 5 acres of land, including a piggery and greenhouses.
The film examines ideas of food production, environment and community through the eyes of current residents, some of whom moved onto the estate at its inception in 1936 as the children of original settlers and have never left.
It takes its title from a book written by Fred Kitchen and published in 1947 about his time living as a tenant farmer and market gardener on the Oxcroft Estate.
Ian Nesbitt’s practice spans video art, documentary film, ethnography, grassroots cinema activism and very occasionally live art. His work focuses on working innovatively with marginal communities and exploring peripheral territories and is often lens-based. His films have been screened and exhibited internationally since 2004, including at Nottingham Contemporary, Ober-
hausen Film Festival, CCA Glasgow, CCA Moscow, Sheffield Doc/Fest and Liverpool Biennial. Ian is currently working on a new commission for Sound And Music collaborating with the Dead Rat Orchestra, and is also working on a third feature length documentary.
Tuesday 28th April 2015
7pm at 7a Vyner Street, London E2
In spring 2013 Nathan Burr and Louis Buckley walked the length of the South Downs Way, starting in Winchester and ending at Beachy Head. Along the way they walked and talked with everyone from farmers and psychologists to therapists and writers to explore the connections between suicide, mental health, myth and landscape. This film documents the chain of conversations that took place over their nine-day journey.
Louis Buckley creates live events, talks and participatory activities. He grew up in the shadow of the South Downs and has a longstanding interest in the intersection between biology and art, and changing ideas about nature and the countryside.
Nathan Burr is a Brighton-based artist and designer. Nathan aimlessly wanders into spaces of conjuncture to design new rituals that re-imagine human narratives contained within past, present and future landscapes.
Film Screening and Conversation:
Tuesday 28th April 2015 at 7pm
7a Vyner Street, London E2
Food and drinks as usual.
For more information e-mal kathrin(at)myvillages.org