Ruth Ben-Tovim about A Patch of Ground
Food growing and performance making
Ruth Ben-Tovim gives an insight in A Patch of Ground: rural / urban 2011. The five-month project is produced in London by ArtsAdmin and was created by the arts-collective Encounters: in weekly creative workshops and vegetable growing sessions it will bring together two inter-generational and diverse groups to engage and explore, through food growing and performance making, ideas and issues relating to people, place, planet. The aim is to stimulate new and lasting ways of engagement between the participants, with where they live and the wider natural world.
Ruth, where is the London urban patch of ground taking place?
At Toynbee Hall, the home of Arts Admin an arts producing organisation. Its on Commercial Street in Aldgate East. The rural one is in the Dartington Hall Trust in Devon.
In what context do you see A Patch of Ground: rural / urban 2011?
It sits within the world of participatory arts practice and in the context of the crisis we face in the depletion of the earths resources, the impact of climate change and peak oil alongside increased poverty, inequality, and global conflict. So it is also an awareness raising and behaviour change project inviting people through creative methods to re- imagine who and how they are in the world at this moment in time.
Big topics like people, place and planet, the participants aged 8 – 80, a miscellaneous programme of activity and creativity work – how do you handle all the diversity?
The diversity is what makes the project. And we are quite structured in the weekly sessions so that this diversity is contained and facilitated. We create a number of different entry points. Some people are more drawn to the gardening, some to the cooking, some to the performance aspect. So we allow people to engage in different ways. Also we use peoples personal material, their stories, their thoughts, their ideas so the diversity and difference is actually the focus rather than something to deal with alongside a project. It is the project!
We also build in ongoing reflection throughout the project so that participants are given space to articulate and share how the experience of being involved is for them, to check in with how they are handling the diversity, the sessions, the material and then we can adjust the sessions to really support peoples journey.
Which results do you expect?
A flourishing garden created by the hands of many, a potent and powerful performance that builds confidence, self esteem and a sense of possibility about how we can be and act in a more resilient, sustainable and interconnected way. People seeing themselves, each other and their relationship with the natural world differently, seeing themselves as part of the web of life.
What is your personal part in the project? What are you work for a living?
I am the Creative Director of Encounters the arts organisation who is running the project and I will be directing the performance of A Little Patch of Ground. I am also the co - deviser of the overall project with Anne -Marie Culhane. For a living I devise and fundraise for projects like this in my role as a relational artist.
Any final sentence?
'What is it that you plan to do with your one wild and precious life' - Mary Oliver, is an inspiring sentence to me and this project is what I'm doing with my life at this moment in time, it is a way of deepening ecological identity and creating ripples of change and transformation.
photos: Encounters | Ruth Ben-Tovim | Swantje Diepenhorst