In Our Backyard art exhibition

Received this news from local artist and foodie Eleanor Hoad yesterday, so thought I’d share it with you in full. We should do more food swapping events in Birmingham shouldn’t we, what do you think?

The ‘In Our Backyard’ exhibition at BMAG is the culmination of a year-long residency taking place within 4 constituencies around Birmingham. Community groups within the constituencies of Perry Barr, Erdington, Ladywood and Hodge Hill have worked closely with 4 artists in a series of art activities and projects that will be showcased in this exhibition and throughout the museum.

In Erdington, Eleanor Hoad’s ‘Prepare’ residency explored ways in which we can feed ourselves in the city and celebrate our local harvests. Inspired by urban Permaculture and traditional celebrations around growing food, Eleanor created a fruit harvesting, processing and distributing scheme using unwanted local fruit.

This Saturday come along to see the exhibition and take part in the Prepare Swapshop with Eleanor Hoad Saturday 24th April 2010, 11am – 4pm in the Learning Zone

A drop in swapshop with Eleanor Hoad, artist from the In Our Backyard exhibition, showing in the Community Gallery. Bring along to swap: fruit recipes old and new, jars of homemade pickle, jam or chutney, seeds saved from your own plants or leftovers in a packet and empty plastic vegetable trays to plant your own mini herb bed. Make your own decorated paper bag to take your swaps home.

The Community Gallery showcases the talent of our communities and provides an insight into our rich local neighbourhoods through an exciting programme of exhibitions and events. Displays are created in collaboration with community groups, inviting new audiences and visitors to interact and explore artworks and subject matter.

In Our Backyard runs from 10th April to the 4th July.

The Community Gallery
Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
Chamberlain Square
Birmingham B3 3DH
0121 303 2834

Brummie Food is a Work of Art

Birmingham artist Eleanor Hoad is marking the end of her first year as ‘Artist in Residence’ for Erdington constituency by exhibiting work in the Community Gallery at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. It’s running for three months from April 2010, and she needs your help. She’s managed to get an old market barrow and is planning to make a display by filling it with produce made from Birmingham food – it all has to be non-perishable as the show is on for three months. So things like pickles, jams, chutneys, dried beans, syrups, herbal preperations, home brew etc are all great. Eleanor says:

“I’ve got the foyer area of the museum to display it in which is amazing, lots of people will see it and I’m keen to show the diversity of city produce that is possible.”

Eleanor is looking for donations of produce to fill the barrow with, although she can pay a little bit towards it, or you can have it back at the end of June when the show comes down. Donations need to be vegetable based as Eleanor’s looking for vegan items. If you can help at all by donating, or know of anyone Eleanor can get in touch with, please get in touch with her on 07974 934 917 or I’m hoping to go out on a forage and make some wild pesto to donate (sans parmesan) as my contribution.

To see what Eleanor’s been doing in her year in residence, you might want to check out this and this

PREPARE for a bumper harvest

After reading Hungry City, with it’s (rightly) sombre view of our current food system, I was in need of a bit of a pick-up; something to cheer the heart, warm the soul, and offer a little hope of a better way. Fortunately the next day I heard about PREPARE, a community fruit harvesting scheme to use surplus fruit from gardens and common land. When I heard it was in Birmingham, I nearly fell off my seat on the number 11 bus!

prepare applePREPARE is the brain child of Eleanor Hode, artist in residence for the ward of Erdington. Eleanor says the aim of the project  “is to harvest, process and distribute unused fruit growing in peoples gardens and on public land and to get it eaten! Either as fresh fruit or processed into juice, jams and pickles that are given away to local people”

Eleanor, who’s based at Kingstanding Leisure Centre, has got some funding from Birmingham City Council for the project and has got together most of the necessary equipment for harvesting (A bike and trailer, picking stick, 2 picking bags, sheet of plastic, storage boxes etc), and has had a positive response from local residents so far. However she can’t do it alone, so is on the look out for some keen fruit spotters, pickers, and processors, especially from the Erdington area. Of course there will be plenty of fruity perks for volunteers!

Later in the year Eleanor is planning to plant some fruit trees on 2 sites in the area and to throw an event for Apple Day on Sunday 25th October at Kingstanding Leisure Centre. There’ll hopefully be lots of activities, music, and some apple juicing on a press she’s planning to make. Loaf is planning to show our support, and will certainly let you know all about it on here. Eleanor is also on the look out for a top apple expert to identify varieties and share their knowledge on Apple Day, so if you fit the bill, or know anyone who does, get in touch with Eleanor (see below), or leave a comment on the blog and we’ll pass it on.

If you’re interested in similar initiatives it’s also worth checking out the ‘Abundance’ project in Sheffield that’s been doing similar things for a couple of years.

If you’d like to get involved with the project, you can email or get in touch with her on 07974 934 917. Eleanor also has her own page on the, and there’s a flyer below (click to enlarge):