on change, and how organic that is


..few things, first, last week I went along to one of the saddest moment of Tending (if not the only one): Betty, the manager of the Cafe’ at SCA didn’t get her contract renewed, so left the Cafe’!
On Thursday a number of people came along for a bite and a thank you. One last bite at Betty and staff’s food and a thnkyou, for that food, the laughs, the chatty times, the support, the hints and advises, and -as for Tending’s direct benefit- the plants, the compost, the coffee, the cakes, the recipes, the keen involvement and general great, outstanding support..
Now you understand why I feel sad about the departure..


But as they say, bad news never come alone, they come in triplets.
Second bad news is that Tending didn’t get the funding it applied for, which means we are now officially in limbo: the end of June marks the end of the year ‘contract’ originally envisaged by Ross Gibson, to start off this pilot adventure, and indeed it has been an adventure, and a far-fledged one on that regards too.
We are still waiting for another application lodged in which might rescue the research project, but as it stands we will have to cull our enthusiasm and hold back our dreams of food forests, effective integration of agricultural practices within an art curricula and definitely, most definitely, no wink at relational art as a legitimate tool for social interaction..
Third reason to be sad is personal, weeds.
As the news came in that we didn’t get the research grant, the campus management decided to act on some complains from the public, who allegedly were concerned for the safety of Callan Park, particularly in regards to the possible encroaching of weeds on the surrounding areas.
It was also felt that a general tide-up of the courtyard were Tending is hosted was due, to satisfy care-taking commitments in regards to Richard Goodwin’s artwork Carapace.
It is my experience as a crusader battling for the reappraisal of the value of ‘weeds’ (whatever that might mean), that most gardeners and ground keepers understand my concerns and appreciate the logic behind it. They are tightened up by the constrictions of presentation though. When something looks ‘unruly’ it is deemed to be messy, unhealthy, poorly managed and therefore un-economic.


The people coming over on the week-end did an amazing work, there was a lot of organic material in that back block, which got collected and removed. They went around and pruned the bushes, see here the cassia (I believe) and the frangipani.
Me and Michele were a bit concerned about the use of Round-up though, which apart from the fact that it is highly un-ethical to use the poison anywhere near growing vegetables, it is also illegal within the boundaries of the Leichhardt Council.. carefull guys, you might follow-up on some complains by a dissatisfied citizen, yet you might also be liable for using restricted products on public land..
With all due respect of course.
I’ll finish off with a cartoon I made to complement an article which hopefully is gong to be published on the Plant Protection Quarterly, the leading scientific journal from Australia featuring local and international original papers on all aspects of plant protection:


on how to plant garlic, or rather, a rainy day


Today was absolutely wet. The ghastly rain of the past week didn’t stop yet.
So braving the weather, we went off to Tending.
We started the day collecting a bunch of dirt from Glenn, the chief gardener from WHOS, the help center situated in Callan Park.
This association deserves a dedicated posting, so today I’m just going to talk about the rain:

Bucketing down..

Luckily we had the chance of putting down a garlic bed, in the intermissions, as it is getting late for it. Apparently the garlic should be planted by solstice (next week) so we were kind of in a hurry..

Below is Lucas explaining what, why and how of the garlic planting:

Tending’s review



A sharp and wholesome review appeared on RealTime Magazine #103, by Alana Hunt.
Below are a few paragraphs that I particularly enjoyed:

There is a genuine warmth and unpretentiousness that characterises the project both in person (on site) and via the blog (online). Characters emerge in the unfolding narrative of Tending—characters that can just as easily be plants as people.


But Tending is not an artistic process without products. Indeed, gardens themselves provide ideal places to explore the dynamic between process and product. As Ihlein explains, “one would quickly tire of digging the soil if, season after season, there were no yields.” Some products Ihlein and Bonetto have seen emerging from the collective labours of Tending include: physical pleasure; a clear mind; some lettuces, cucumbers, pumpkins and lots of basil; knowledge about what to plant at different times of the year; new friendships; heated discussions about the definition of art; some small wages; a series of guest lectures; an open-air studio; an improvement in soil quality; a restful place on campus…

Read the full article here.

on other’s involvement


The number of people taking advantage of the possibilities Tending offer are steadily growing.
Thanks to the organizational skills of Gemma, Tending recently hosted a night of performances, Agar Dish, an ongoing commitment to performative practices.
Agar Dish has been staged in several location through out the campus, allowing for the emergence, presentation, promotion and trials of various students works loosely connected by the need of audience interaction for their activation.


Great work were presented, most in developing stages, and therefore wild, not precious and playful, like the reading tent, (sorry I still don’t know who was the artist and what the title of the work would be, if there is any).
In it the artist sat and read about evolution, allowing for the public to inhabit the small, intimate construction.
Or the glass blower, who on the night, via a series of striking gestures amplified in the dark by the glare of the blowtorch, made a glass tree!


Both work’s remnants are still in the garden for people to have a look at.
I am in negotiation with the organizers to have some of the documentation shots presented here on the blog, soon to come.

Next week then Michelle will be coming to Tending with a number of disabled people from the area.
Michelle has been running gardening activities for the group from sometimes, and the possibility to have access to dirt for her group is of great advantage, as they will only have to come up Victoria Rd and down Balmain St. As local as it gets.

In the meantime yesterday on a rainy day, Lizzie and Aanya sowed what the termed ‘The Lady’s Garden’, a patch of flowers and blessings:


Finally. hot off the press, Alana Hunt just published an article about Tending, questioning the process of a growing garden.
You will find it on RealTime, see the link here