July 5, 2009
Today I headed out of the city for the first time since arriving. In the Metfield Cafe yesterday I’d been told to head to Armingall to meet local growers. It’s a tiny Hamlet just outside Norwich, and there I met Jeremy Kent (above) who runs Church Barn Farm. It’s pretty much a one-man operation, and today he was offering broad beans, goosberries and huge blackberries. He’s been there for 29 years, and used to farm livestock on a greater acreage than he has now. Jeremy grows organically, but on such a small scale that he’s not prepared to pay for the registration fee with the Soil Association.
We talked for a long time about the local food economy. He manages to avoid shopping at the supermarkets, and feels that this sort of ethos is on the rise in the area, but is by no means commonplace. He showed me an intriguing book called The Transition Handbook by Rob Hopkins (Green Press), which discusses local approaches to problems of climate change and peak oil. Norwich has become invloved in the Transition network, with many small groups working to provide local schemes for agriculture and research into more ecologically sustainable living.
I picked about 1.5lbs of his blackcurrents, which are delicious – minty and full-flavoured but not too bitter. They will form the basis for a version of Eton Mess that I will cook on Tuesday.
Later I visited a much larger farm shop outside Poringland and meet the farmer, Dave. He was closing up for the day, but gave me some eggs that I promised to pay for when I return. They are packaged in a re-used Tesco egg box, which whilst being a good practice, reminds me just how much reach the major food retailers and distributers have. In the evenings in Norwich there is almost nowhere else to go to find ingredients.
This evening Cutup Collective are hosting their event at Outhouse. The installation of their billboard has a great deal of presence in the room, and the performance of the sounds they captured in the building is really varied. The feel of the crowd is one of excitment about the potential of the Outhouse building, and I chat to a few people about my plans for the week.
July 3, 2009
I’m up in Norwich continuing a project I started last year with Critical Practice called Waste Proposal Unit. I was invited here by Outpost Gallery as part of their series of short residencies this summer for CAN ’09 entitled Outhouse.
One first action on Thursday was to document the Outhouse space by filming a walkthrough of the building before it is occupied and transformed. It really is an amazing building and I’d like to show it as it is now, full of potential soon to be realised.
My aim for the week is to seek out local producers, food retailers and restaurants and to develop recipes based on these interactions. The research over the first few days will culminate with an event offering free food to the crowd as a means of documenting these conversations and recipes and making them live.
Thursday has been a day of setting up (see my quite pompous ‘office’ setup above) and first forays into the city looking for interesting people and produce. One of the first things I encountered was a small stall of home-grown produce outside an antiques shop. In particular the beetroot looked great. Later at Penita’s Deli I learnt about a local goat’s cheese made at Jacmar Dairy. I think this will pair well with the beetroot. I start to think about modes of presentation; in particular I’d like to try to make a beetroot jelly of some sort, which will mean finding something like agar agar so that I don’t have to use gelatine, meaning that vegetarians can’t eat the dish.
Something that has been bugging me recently is the question of how the process of sketching functions for live artists and those working with the broad model of relational aesthetics. This practice is surely still necessary for artists working in those areas, and I think these days of research could be a great opportunity to play with what this means for me. I hope to cook each evening as a way of sketching the forthcoming food and live environment that I’ll be presenting on Tuesday. Tonight I’m glad to be able to cook for Cutup Collective who are also staying in the Octagon Court flat for Outhouse – they will have left before Tuesday’s event. I’ll be testing out some ideas for the beetroot and cheese, perhaps with a fennel seed sugar syrup, and certainly incorporating the beet tops in some way. Additionally I’d like to play around with two of my favourite flavours with lamb – rosemary and lavender – as these are both growing in the gardens around our flat.