I dreamt about courgettes last night. They were marching, yes, marching, through the gates of IMMA and plonking themselves down on the courtyard with their bellies to the sky. It was so bizarre that I actually managed to wake myself up.
Ready for another day at Food School, this morning I headed in with courgettes firmly ingrained on the brain.
What’s lovely, though, is that despite this new obsession with courgettes, I feel like I’m connecting more with the team every day.
From Friday 12th – Sun 28th August, the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) is hosting a very intriguing collaboration with Grizedale Arts, with courgettes as their star.
That’s right: courgettes.
Titled A Fair Land, the project looks at how humans’ inherent creativity can be used to develop a system for living, using the simplest of resources.
At a brief glance, the project has eight parts to it ranging from fitness and cooking demos to arts and crafts and a courgette-based lunch.
When I was first briefed about this project, I have to admit I was both amused and sceptical. I mean, how could a three-week courgette-fuelled art installation work? Well today, I found out!
As part of A Fair Land, IMMA is also running a Food School. Working with the main team, people will learn more about the project itself, how the courgettes are grown, harvested and cooked for the special lunch that’s available each day.
Suitable for people of all ages, it’s free to attend, however, you must be available for a full week of sessions (four days). Next week they’re aiming specifically at teens. I was lucky enough to be given a spot on this week’s course!
Working with a 1916 brief and with an aim to rework the residency program at IMMA, Grizedale Arts has come up with this fascinating concept that has vegetables at its core and heart.
No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you, those are in fact courgettes growing in the centre of IMMA’s courtyard! Using bales of straw, the courgettes were grown and then transplanted into the bales to continue growing. First, the bales need to be fermented, a process that takes 10 days.
The bales need to be small and then are enhanced with a nitrogen-rich fertiliser. The temperature rises to about 130 degrees Fahrenheit, creating steam and the bales continue to ferment. Perfect growing material!
Our coordinator for the day was Grizedale Art’s director, Adam Sutherland, who has worked with food since he was a young boy (he grew up on a farm, and was often assigned to the vegetable patch).
He showed us around and gave us a real feel for what A Fair Land was about. Ultimately, it really highlights how people have the ability to create from the most basic of amenities – even if you don’t think you have the skills for it.
Today was to be a pilot day for IMMA and all the staff. Due to a few setbacks, three of us on the Food School course were acting as very willing guinea pigs for the day. The project is open to the public tomorrow.
IMMA’s courtyard will be transformed into a Village where visitors will be able to partake in making everything from bowls to aprons but will also see the harvesting and cooking of crops.
After walking through each aspect of the project, we harvested courgette flowers and brought them back to the kitchen for the team to cook.
Laying out the table for a communal feast, the smells were just astounding. As willing tasters, we had a magnificent lunch, utilising the magic ingredient: courgettes!
On Sunday, the two other Food School ladies, Ann and Rachel, and I will be cooking the food for the public.
I’m exhilarated to start day two of the Food School, and so far I’m loving every single moment.
Tickets for the lunch at IMMA cost €10 for three courses and it’s a really great, communal experience. You can book tickets for the lunch here. This is a family-friendly project.