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Title: The allotment plot : place tilled : an investigation into plant material, rural labour and cultivation within art practice
Author: Corder, Kate
Awarding Body: University of Reading
Current Institution: University of Reading
Date of Award: 2013
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This practice-based PhD thesis uses a site-specific allotment plot within the Museum of English Rural life's (MERL) garden to investigate the use of cultivated plant material and rural labour in art practice. The thesis questions how the allotment garden can test new forms of Land Art, while critically reflecting upon historical developments of earthworks and post-relational aesthetics. Plant cultivation has been a focus in various major exhibitions during the last ten years (Art of the Garden 2004 and Radical Nature 2009). The 21st century has seen renewed interest in allotments for autonomous vegetable production, yet allotments are rarely used as methodological strategies in art practices. The Allotment Movement started in the late 18th century, as a social construct for the poor and peaks at times of necessity. This thesis explores allotments history, examines allotments brief appearance in 19th century artworks and searches for continuity of allotment labour through art practice. The allotment in MERL's garden is compared with a local authority plot. I examined George Clausen (1880s-90s) and John Topham's (1950s) photographic images of allotment labour in MERL's Archives, mapped relationships between allotments and organic horticulture to Eve Balfour's Haughley Experiment (1939- 1946) at New Bells Farm (Soil Association's formative headquarters); a site not previously investigated through art, and responded to these influences through a series of films. I instigated the Cultivation Field Symposium and Exhibition exploring current plant and land cultivation usage in art. My practice and approaches to writing are contextualized through considering artists work including Smithson, the Harrisons and Beuys' social sculpture. This thesis contributes through art practice new understandings of allotments and gardening labour, because it deals with representations of 'land' through everyday ways of living dependent on human action, and while looking back at allotments social history, relates its findings to current ecological concerns.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available