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Journal — March 2022

JC Niala – Exhibition, Book Launch & Discussion Event

JC Niala: Portal

11th March – 16th April, 2022

@ Old Fire Station, Oxford

Old Fire Station, 40 George Street, Oxford, OX1 2AQ

Tuesday – Saturday, 10am – 4pm (until 7pm on Thursdays)

This exhibition marks the launch of an artist’s journal of poems by JC Niala entitled ‘Portal: 1918 Allotment’ which comprises poetic, photographic and narrative documentation of her project recreating a 1918 style allotment in Oxford last year.

The project explores relations between the 1918/1919 (Spanish Flu) and COVID-19 pandemics, World War One, and the role of outdoor space and allotments within them.

In the summer of 2021 Niala developed her plot as a living archive and outdoor writing studio, and hosted visitors there for a series of work-in-progress readings and to literally ‘eat her research’.

The exhibition will present the publication in an exploded form, reproducing poems and imagery large scale, alongside the creation of a more intimate space for visitors to read the publication. The window area of the gallery will be transformed into a greenhouse for the growing of seedlings, which will be shared at an event on the 2nd April in Gloucester Green Market.

The exhibition will also give visitors a chance to see the progression of the 1918 Allotment over the course of the growing season last year. The exhibition has been designed in collaboration with Julia Utreras (Common Books) and Sam Skinner (Fig).

Further details to be announced of accompanying online exhibition at MERL, Reading.

Project supported by TORCH as part of the Humanities Cultural Programme and Arts Council National Lottery Project Grants.

Discussion Event

 @ 2pm – 5pm

@ Old Fire Station

Buy tickets here

Tickets: Standard: £5 // Pay more: £10 // Pay less: £1

Old Fire Station, 40 George Street, Oxford, OX1 2AQ

Join JC Niala and special guests for an afternoon of talks discussing her project recreating a 1918 allotment in Oxford – exploring relations between the Spanish Flu (1918/19) and COVID-19 pandemics, World War One, and the role of outdoor space and allotments within them. Invited guests will speak to a range of topics, including the history of allotments, gardening in the trenches, and growing practices during the pandemic.

Invited speakers include:

· JC Niala is an anthropologist, historian and poet. She is a final year doctoral researcher at the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography at the University of Oxford. Her thesis is entitled ‘Banal Utopia: urban gardening as a practice for materialising utopic spaces in cities.’

· Alex Mayhew is a historian based at the London School of Economics and researches the cultural, military, and social history of war, recently writing on ‘British Expeditionary Force Vegetable Shows, Allotment Culture, and Life Behind the Lines during the First World War’.

· Claire Ratinon is an organic food grower and writer based in East Sussex, and author of ‘How to Grow Your Dinner Without Leaving the House’ (2020) and ‘Unearthed: On Race and Roots, and How the Soil Taught Me I Belong’ (2022).

· Jeremy Burchardt is Associate Professor at the University of Reading and author of ‘The Allotment Movement in England’ and ‘Paradise Lost: Rural Idyll and Social Change Since 1800’.

· Elizabeth Ewart is Associate Professor in the Anthropology at Linacre College and a specialist in Indigenous peoples of the Americas, including garden design and culture.

Tea Performance & Seedling Sharing Event – Saturday 2nd April 10am-3pm. Outside OFS in Gloucester Green Market. 

Opportunity to meet the artist and share some tea and seedlings!