Elder Vernacular

Mapping the research area: the geological landscape around Elder Stubbs, painted in local clays and vegetable inks.

Commissioned by Fig/Sam Skinner and funded by Arts Council England. Elder Vernacular is one of two inaugural Fig projects, which has secured a long term base at Elder Stubbs allotments in Oxford. Elder Vernacular is a research project seeking to understand the local landscape immediately surrounding the allotment and will develop an artists palette of materials grounded in the East Oxford landscape.

The project asks what it might mean to (re)discover a visual ‘vernacular’ in the context of COVID-19 and climate change, which have both spurred city dwellers towards an embrace of the hyper-local, for physical and psychological sustenance. It takes inspiration from the work of early researchers like Robert Plot, the historical surveyor of Oxfordshire’s landscape and folklore. Plot’s wide-ranging enquiry will be re-purposed to answer contemporary needs for grounding in the landscape. The artistic materials and research developed will be shared in workshops with the Recovery Group based at Restore on Elder Stubbs Allotment’s, and feed into in a mural and temporary installation in Florence Park. A book will be produced that documents the research process and uses materials developed during the project in its making. Elder Vernacular also connects to a longer term Fig project developing an artists garden on Elder Stubbs, growing plants to make dye, paper, and other artist materials.

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