Is There Anything Sweeter?

One of five shortlisted proposals for Cultural Olympiad 2012

November 2009
Proposed for Newcastle Quayside
Arts Council & Cultural Olympiad

Happy is the man with the keen intellect and superhuman eagerness to reveal the innermost secrets of nature; happy is he who can grasp the causes and relationships of matter; who can walk in the footsteps of Newton as his companion. But happy too is the man who cares for his fields; who appreciates all the manifold riches of his garden; who has learnt the art of grafting trees that each may thrive in its favourite soil; and who knows which are happiest in the rich mud and ooze of the pond; which shun the biting cold of the north wind; and which flowers high up in the snowy wastes of Scythia. Do not scorn or grumble about the modest toil; it is shared by the greatest gardener of all. Do not look for Him only amid the stars of heaven; for it is in the ordinary things of life that you may find God.

Translation of a Latin inscription engraved on a window of the Library of Montacute House,dated 1770.

Is There Anything Sweeter?

 ‘Is There Anything Sweeter?’ proposes to take the humble act of growing edible produce and elevate it to a position of importance. It is the sum of many parts  a; Mothership Garden, in a prominent location partially floating on the river, a trial of satellite gardens , a series of meals, and various forms of documentation. It is an installation and a performance. 

‘Is There Anything Sweeter will be carefully crafted from a palette of taste, texture, smell, colour, form, height, history and timings. These considerations will be woven together into a visually abundant wilderness.  It will be beautiful and inviting.

This is a piece about asking a question. It is about regeneration, transformation, change and lifecycles. It is about juxtaposition between the natural world and urbanisation.  It is nurturing and feminine. It is a garden in an unexpected place. It is a garden in an unexpected context.

It is a reference to activism and grass roots organisations, a return to active politics, flash mobs, The Age of Stupid, doing what you believe in, by-passing the system. Never was there a time more important than this to elevate everyday growing to a position of importance and focus.  The time is now.

It allows nature to prevail over urbanisation.  It elevates the ordinary into the extraordinary and makes something simple and vital both beautiful and compelling.  This is both a physical and a conceptual piece. It is a simple idea with complex potential and implications. 

The audience will experience the work on a number of levels, they will be able to see the work, smell it, touch it, influence it and at times taste it.  They will be able to ‘be’ in it .The atmosphere will feel relaxed, calming and at times convivial. It will facilitate small unexpected moments and discovery.  The installation would be nothing without the audience as part of it.  The success of the project will be in the quantity of people it touches in a variety of ways.

The installation will offer a different perspective on the city, a chance to live out the good life and consider Is There Anything Sweeter?