What we do
Fig is a new project in Oxford that brings art, horticulture, and communities together.
Based between the two sister sites of Elder Stubbs Allotment and Makespace Central, Fig works with artists, writers, designers, horticulturalists and communities to support the development of innovative new work.
Fig aims to open up creative spaces where art, people, and plants meet, and engage imaginatively with the key ecological issues of our time: biodiversity loss, pollution, and climate change. Fig uses its horticultural and studio spaces to support alternative models for the arts and experimental processes like growing materials and edible architecture.
We are dedicated to working with individual creatives, institutional partners, community groups, unique sites and ecologies to develop collaborative projects with co-creation at their heart. Fig’s ambition is to inspire audiences, support emergent talent, and work creatively with the natural world.
Initial projects will work between: two 100 m2plots on the unique Elder Stubbs Allotment site in East Oxford, which includes a wildflower meadow, woodland, orchard, community gardens, and 100+ individual plots; and a studio space, equipped with printmaking equipment, in Makespace Central, a collaborative co-working social enterprise project in the heart of Oxford.
The name of the project is inspired by a fig tree on one of our plots. More broadly, Fig refers to the genus of tree and its fruit, but also the abbreviation of ‘figure’ – fig. – meaning a drawing or diagram conveying information, and seeks to embody a commitment to unite nature and culture through our work.
Frequently asked questions
For Fig’s first year we are focussed on the development of two projects: JC Niala’s 1918 Allotment and Eleanor Greenhalgh’s Elder Vernacular. The projects both use growing sites on the Elder Stubbs Allotments and are linked by a shared interest in the history of the site, and the contemporary resonances of the allotment and outdoor space in the context of COVID-19 and climate change. See project pages and the journal for more info. Fig’s establishment and inaugural commissions have been supported by an Arts Council National Lottery Project Grant.
Fig launched in June 2021 and we will be having public events from August, including poetry readings by JC Niala at Elder Stubbs Allotments and a new mural and temporary installation in Florence Park by Eleanor Greenhalgh. Plus, exhibitions and publications later in the year! Follow the Journal, sign-up to the mailing list and Twitter and Instagram to keep up-to-date.
Fig was established by artist and curator Sam Skinner as an experiment in supporting emerging creative practices which have ecology, horticulture, and community at their heart. Sam combines experience in the arts, with a BA and MA in art history, a practice-based PhD, and working for and developing projects with a wide variety of cultural organisations, with a fledgling! horticultural knowledge, cultivated through work on organic farms, community gardens, and studying with the RHS. Thus Fig is a work-in-progress, an experiment in beginnings and transitioning, driven by an interest in exploring alternative models of creative production. How, for example, a cultural organisation may nurture and offer fertile soil and a biologically diverse environment for artists and audiences to engage with, and what that may enable.
Groundwork for Fig was developed during the Fusion Arts Research Lab 2021.
Follow the Journal and @Fig_Oxford on Instagram and Twitter to see how the project evolves!