below is part of an article published in Real Time Arts – Magazine – issue 96
barry laing: in-habit, abbotsford convent, melbourne.
‘In One Square Metre the Atherton Community Gardens in Fitzroy are opened to the public for a ‘tour.’ We are greeted in the heat and vibrancy of colour and scent amidst 60 garden beds by Zeynep, a Turkish Australian resident of nearby high rise flats and gardener here since 1969. Zeynep offers everyone dolmades, produce from her garden and the recipe! Jude Anderson serves water and introduces the project and tour. Over 12 months she has cultivated one square metre of garden according to some of the principles of French landscape architect Gilles Clément’s notion of the Planetary Garde: use only seeds offered or found, and no planting—sow as the wind would sow. While also adopting existing rules and practices from the gardeners at Atherton, Anderson’s alternative aesthetic, ethical and ecological practice brought her into immediate, humorous, productive ‘conflict’ and exchange with Zeynep and other Atherton gardeners: bed-ends framing their gardens, a living lattice of wild willow framing hers; theirs organised on pragmatic principles, hers a micro-cosmos of chaos. Anderson, the ‘hopeless gardener’!
It is the fruits of these meetings with community members and the growth of their interactions over time that are made available to us on the tour. Zeynep leads as Anderson and others draw her into conversation. We are introduced to vagabond plants, ‘weeds’, not normally cultivated. Dandelion, for a peppery salad. An Italian woman attending the tour confides, “We survived the Second World War on it. Really, a whole population.” Purslane, common in cracks in the pavement, we learn, is good for constipation. Something of a delicacy in Turkey, the Italians use it in a chicken breast salad. Another tour member tells us it is also being trialled in cardiovascular research. Ah, my vagabond heart! In a kind of culinary ecstasy, we taste, inquire after, debate and receive recipes for Black Sea Cabbage, Sawtooth Coriander, French Sorrel, Stinging Nettle and more.
The work of One Square Metre literally overflows its frame. It is a living artwork and residency in which Anderson creates the conditions for new encounters, competing knowledges, curiosity and exchange. The ‘art’ of the event surpasses her tiny plot of unruly garden, arises in layers of complexity and finds form in genuine reciprocity and learning.’