Wednesday, 20 April 2016

R&D - Wild Food Walks with Ffyona Campbell

Some of the twee-ness absent in Paul Chaney's Lizard Action Plan was definitely evident in Ffyona Campbell's approach to the half-day wild-food foraging walk, manifested in the group hand-holding for the spiritual poems which bookended the 3 hour walk, and the handmade publication we parted with.

However, the knowledge imparted throughout the silent group walk, as we were encouraged to listen to the instruction, and allow all of our 5 senses to create memory and recall, was extensive. Of note was the attention paid to distinguishing between plants of similar appearance, but at the opposite ends on the toxicity scale.

It became clear that to be successful at this activity you have to practice, and despite my perception of and reservations about the spiritual approach, it was evident that Campbell could almost sense where something edible might be, and in that way, not unlike Chaney's thinking, in order to be successful with this activity, there is an essential need to reconnect with the land.

The distance was fairly short - approx a mile, and here's what we found.

Monday, 11 April 2016

R&D - Lizard Exit Plan - Paul Chaney - A Response

The first exercise in the R&D phase - a visit to Paul Chaney's Exhibition - Lizard Exit Plan:Kestle Barton Sector at Kestle Barton, Manaccan, Cornwall.

the Encampment Supreme pavilion – a 775 sq.ft architectural fusion of post-consumer waste products and locally found natural elements, constructed by the artist and volunteers during public workshops in 2015
Chaney's ongoing works exploring what might follow an apocalyptic event seemed a perfect starting point for Research into A Sick Logic -

what might happen to us following an apocalyptic event? 
how would that event affect our relationship with the land?
what existing knowledge and skill base could we individually and collectively call on?

At the root of A Sick Logic is a sense that we, in the west, might have become somewhat disconnected from the land - practically, agriculturally, socially, ideologically and politically. We allow supermarkets to provide us with the fruits of the industrial farmer. We expect our shelters to be built for us and enter willingly into a housing sector which we're told is the foundation of our economic system. We have become the serviced-sector, cosetted from any real need for individual self-determination. Over decades of industrialisation, and capitalism-influenced technologisation, we have lost generations of built-up and passed down knowledge and in the process, most of us would be fairly useless in the event of a likely/unlikely/possible post-apocalypse.

In her essay on this exhibition, Sarah Thacker quotes Chaney - 
"self-sufficiency is not about food but being skilled-up, about being autonomous"
Thacker's critique of Lizard Exit Plan:Kestle Barton Sector is here

Field Machine

The work taps directly into how I'm thinking about the contemporary cultural response to a supposed Age of Fear and Uncertainty in which we currently reside and the conspiracy theoried, post-apocalypse, prepping that's so prevalent at the moment.

Chaney's approach is really interesting here - work around this subject matter can become mired in cod-ideology - there's a potential for twee-ness - and sometimes a hectoring radical ecologising! But coursing throughout is a dry, subtle, sardonic humour - whether it's the circling of an apple on a tree in one of Chaney's screenprints (look! you could/can eat this!) or a blueprint for a watch tower to keep evil out (and goodness in?). He calls up the separatism proffered by the Cornish Liberation Army, by setting out the 'need' for the setting up of a militia, immediately 'post-event'.  He seems to be simultaneously de-bunking the ultra-right wing preppers of, say Deep South America, and the off-grid loners who are attempting to excuse themselves from mass society - in favour of a simple suggestion that we all might individually take a little more interest and care in our surroundings, historically, ecologically and sociologically.

But he does it without losing any of the seriousness underpinning the whole work.

The message might be that we could stop taking so many things for granted, try to re-understand the land and our relationship with and within it, and up our individual and collective self-sufficiency game.

Encampment Supreme at Kestle Barton

Encampment Supreme at Kestle Barton
Paul Chaney
My notes to add..

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Friday, 1 April 2016

A Sick Logic - Research and Development

A Sick Logic has been split into 3 parts.

1. Research and Development
2. Platform Residency at Site Gallery, Sheffield
3. A Project Publication

1. Research and Development

The project has received Arts Council England funding for parts 1 & 3. The Research and Development phase consists of a series of site visits and training courses across a range of activities to aid and develop learning into the core subject area - re-learning basic living principles and how to engage or in some cases re-engage with the land.

R&D programme

The Kestle Barton Rural Centre for Contemporary Arts 2016 season will begin with the next development in the ongoing ‘speculative research’ of the Lizard Exit Plan by artist Paul Chaney. First shown in 2014, here Chaney imagined a catastrophic event cutting off Cornwall’s Lizard Peninsula from the global economy. Conferring with local landowners, farmers, and other experts, the artist compiled a strategic plan for survival in this apocalyptic scenario.

This new body of work by Chaney will focus specifically on the role of Kestle Barton within his post-apocalyptic narrative and continue to uncover questions of the utility of art and sustainability; especially food production including sources of machinery needed for cultivating crops.

The exhibition will feature five new limited edition cyanotype blueprints of detailed plans pertaining to the ‘Kestle Barton Sector’ and seven new limited edition screenprints that illustrate scenarios from Chaney’s Lizard Exit Plan document which has been elaborated on further for this new body of work. Earlier limited edition Lizard Exit Plan material from the 2014 show will also be on hand in the gallery during this exhibition, so the complete project can be viewed.
During summer 2016 Paul Chaney will lead Critical Camps: a season of workshops and talks by invited artists, thinkers and scientists, at Kestle Barton Rural Centre for the Contemporary Arts, located on the Lizard Peninsular in Cornwall.

Critical Camps will explore topics raised by Chaney’s ongoing research project Lizard Exit Plan – a speculative scenario in which an unspecified hypothetical apocalyptic event cuts off Cornwall’s Lizard peninsula from the global economy. The camps will be hosted in the Encampment Supreme pavilion – a 775 sq.ft architectural fusion of post-consumer waste products and locally found natural elements, constructed by the artist and volunteers during public workshops in 2015.

AND once more with feeling  - June 4th/5th
We are atomised and increasingly isolated beings, making contact only through technology and media. One effect of imagining a post-apocalyptic world is to make us realise us how unpractised we are at direct cooperation, unassisted by complex social, legal, and technological systems.

What tools and methods can be used to revitalise co-operative thinking? This Critical Camp asks whether the growth of individualism is correlated with political disempowerment, and sets up a laboratory for investigating potentials for, and obstacles to, cooperation.
Fernanda Eugenio – Anthropologist and founder/director of AND Lab Research, Lisbon, Portugal.
Magda Ty┼╝lik-Carver – Independent researcher and curator investigating relational arrangements of humans and nonhumans and their biopolitical creations through curating in/as commons, future thinking, affective data and data fictions.

AND Lab – collaborative object relations experiment with Fernanda Eugenio.
To introduce you to the plants of each season, I take you on a slow walk through a south Devon village. I teach you the edible next to the poisonous look-a-likes. We taste, touch, smell and observe each edible plant carefully and then you have a look for them and I check them. You take home a portion of wild food to eat in a salad, pesto or soup. And you take home a colour illustrated booklet of all that we find so that you don't have to take notes.
Course outline:
Identification of trees involves not only recognising shape, texture and smell of leaves but also twigs, bark and tree shape. The course is mostly out of doors, walking through the countryside, woodlands and tree collections in the area and noticing what is there. You will learn not only to recognise trees but also to remember their names, like being introduced to new friends. In the evenings there will be slide talks and practical work to consolidate skills and knowledge.
Teaching sessions with leading expert and author Martin Crawford will be interspersed with frequent visits into our world famous forest garden (started 1994) and a visit to our new site with two young forest gardens. Practical information on tree crops, shrub crops, perennials and ground covers will be complemented with visits to our forest garden to look at our successes and failures, as well as to taste unusual leaf and fruit crops.
First principles – natural forests – definition – growth layers
Why Forest Gardening – benefits
Design principles – questions – initial stages – collecting info
Combining everything
Design of clearings
Design of edges – edge features – light (PAR) – types of edge – types of plants
Design of hedges
Design of paths
Design of ground covers – functions – types
Preparation – converting grass to ground cover
Mulches – mulch types
Seasonal maintenance
Growing your own plants
Species for clearings
Species for edges
Species for hedges
Tree crops
Shrub crops
Perennial leaf crops
Species for ground covers – paths – clearings – polycultures
Annuals & biennials
Root & bulb crops
Fungi – below ground – above ground
Plants for difficult sites
The Woodmaster Wilderness Skills and Bushcraft course covers the essentials of bushcraft and taking it to a higher level, including skills for planning trips and living outdoors and in woodland/forest areas for extended periods.
Firelighting from basics to advanced techniques
Building short term and long term shelters from natural materials
Living in tents and bivvy bags and under tarps in all conditions
Use of hammocks and ‘sleep systems’
Equipment choice and care
Rucksacks and carry systems
Expedition skills and planning
Cooking over an open fire
Hot Smoking and preservation techniques
Finding safe drinking water and managing resources
Choosing and using a bushcraft knife, axe and saws safely (including sharpening)
Use of cutting tools
Campcraft and camp organisation
Camp hygiene and sanitation
Identification of useful plants
Building traps, snares and hunting options
Making tools, camp furniture and other items from natural materials
Practical carving
Basic tracking
Making cordage from natural materials
Knots and useful cordage techniques
Basic first aid
Emergency procedures
How to plan a short overnight trip
An exploration of neolithic skills -
fibre, leather and antler/bone technology
material technology
making cordage in a variety of materials such as hemp, sinew and flax
loomless weaving and braiding,
netting and looping techniques,
make needles in bone and/or antler using flint tools,
methods of cutting and sewing leather.