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Viv’s Garden Story

This year we are very excited ( and a little anxious!) to be opening up the gallery garden as part of The Sustainable Backyards Trail at the end of October . The garden is a very important part of the gallery and its support for fibre artists. The residency space for artists is housed out there amongst the ducks and chickens and, of course, plants. We use the space for workshops that need space o spread out or to make a mess. And then of course the garden is also the source of many materials being used in art practices for those in the gallery community. So really it is the living environment that underpins the direction of the gallery.

We hope lots of people will come and explore our spaces, see how we are solar powered, harvest rainwater and do our extensive composting and organic gardening. It is a happy place full of birds and colour. Over the Trail it also is housing two lots of outdoor sculptures so please come and take a look.

A lot of what goes on in Viv’s Garden is to support Viv’s art practice. A cyclical use system is growing every year. So here’s an example we are currently enjoying.

1. Tamarillo tree grown from fruit gifted by my picture framer. These trees are now several years old and we have them where wind damage is minimal. Wind damage is our biggest frustration

2. Fruit crop for winter puddings. Crammed full of goodies. Just the colour of the fruit makes you feel brighter on those cold wet days

3. Bowls of goodies beside the wood burner with a good movie – what’s not to like

4. Empty skins in the pot on said wood burner. Slow cooking. I like this bit cos my house is warm, my hot water is coming off the wetback and my dye bath is being created from my kitchen waste

5. Wool and silk pretreated to fix the Tamarillo pigment

6. Skins out of pot, fibres in. More slow cooking

7. And here it is. Washed and dried and ready for knitting, weaving, spinning, felt making etc.

How satisfying is that.

These and other yarns and fabrics will be in the studio shop over the trail so do come and check them out. They are delicious. 😋😋

This garden we call taradise, is run as an organic permaculture grow zone. As part of the mix, supplying us with food and fertiliser as well as pest control and endless hours of entertainment, we have flocks of Indian Runner Ducks and Chinese Silkie Chickens. These delightful, intelligent creatures are an integral part of our lives here and they give so much pleasure to us and our visitors.

Many of the plants in the garden, including some vigorous self invited varieties, are ideal for paper-making. There is also a planting of basketry willows that have started to be harvested and used. As part of the Sustainable Backyards Trail this year we are offering basketry workshops that will use materials from the garden for both weaving and cordage making.

Cordage making is such a rewarding simple process and it always surprise me what works well for this. One of my all time favourites is Montbretia. Once this has been harvested and dried it responds so beautifully to a softening soak and then being twisted into cordage. I love using the cordage with the willow twigs to make shadow – casters – so satisfying.

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