London artist celebrates cucumber straighteners in new exhibition
Microclimate by Gayle Chong Kwan
23 July – 5th November 2017, Normanby Hall and Gardens, Normanby Rd, Normanby, Scunthorpe, DN15 9HU
Cucumber straighteners and other Victorian gardening methods have inspired a London-based artist to create a new body of artwork that delves into ideas around food production, transportation and seasonality.
‘Microclimate’ by Gayle Chong Kwan explores the history of the 19th century flowers, vegetables and trainer fruit varieties grown in the restored Victorian walled garden at Normanby Hall Country Park near Scunthorpe. It opened to the public on Monday 24 July.
Curated by art and environment organisation Invisible Dust, Chong Kwan’s installations and photography are on display in the award-winning walled garden, glass houses and potting sheds until 5 November (10.30am to 4.30pm daily), and includes a new installation in the Normanby Hall Library, open until 29 September (1pm to 4.30pm daily).
Gayle Chong Kwan said: “I was interested in the history of the walled garden itself, the broader techniques and issues of being able to grow produce out of season and in different climates, and was struck by the relationship between nature and culture. The huge expense and great difficulty of growing fruit such as pineapples or grapes in a walled garden in England meant that there would have been a large dose of theatricality as to how the walled garden and the produce grown in it would have been experienced and shown off as much as possible. I was also fascinated by some of the Victorian growing methods and objects, such as the cucumber straighteners housed in the gardener’s room in the walled garden, which also links in with contemporary issues of food production and waste. As well as making sculptural works as interventions in the gardeners’ and pot sheds in the walled garden, I will also be developing a panoramic photographic work, which references Victorian photo collage, which will be exhibited in the Library at Normanby Hall.”
‘Microclimate’ marks the start of new three-year programme of international artist residencies and events with environmental themes called ‘Surroundings’. Each year has a different but interrelating theme – Food, Migration and Landscape respectively. Surroundings was launched as part of the Hull UK City of Culture. It is produced and curated by Invisible Dust with the Humber Museums Partnership (HMP), which is made up of 16 Museums in Hull, East Riding and North Lincolnshire. Surrounding is funded through the prestigious Wellcome Trust ‘Sustaining Excellence Award’ and an Arts Council of England ‘Ambitions For Excellence’ grant.
Alice Sharp, director and founder of Invisible Dust says: “Through Gayle Chong Kwan’s work ‘Microclimate’ visitors to the beautiful Normanby Hall gardens gain a deeper understanding of the importance and enjoyment that can be had from growing food locally”
Previous Event – Microclimate: sensory tasting banquet by Gayle Chong Kwan – Sunday 23 July
Gayle hosted a unique tasting experience for members of the public in the beautiful award-winning walled gardens at Normanby Hall in North Lincolnshire as part of our programme Surroundings with Humber Museums Partnership. It included tastings of food grown and prepared on-site, along with multi-sensory activities and experiences in and around the gardens.
Gayle Chong Kwan creates mise-en-scenes, fantastical landscapes, and environments, made out of disturbing arrangements of sensory waste, found materials and documentary sources. Her work explores myths, collective and contentious histories and the ambiguous relationship between reality, appropriation, fictional contemporary mechanisms, and latter day myths, to focus on the impact of contemporary developments in tourism, planning and urban development upon the landscape.