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Winter warmer …

Thank you to all of you who helped make this season another milestone year for Abbey Gardens.
The Friends group registered as a Charity in January, ran over 100 free gardening sessions, attracted over 200 people to the Summer event and Harvest Festival, secured additional funding to build a composting toilet and a cooking area...
Gardening sessions ended last Saturday to a bumper crop of sweet potatoes, which sealed a year of amazing harvest...
But the season would not be complete without our Frost Fair on December 7th from 4 - 6pm.
The event is free, so come out, enjoy warm Winter drinks and home made soups and sing along with members of All Saints Chorus. There will be a wreath making workshop, chutney tasting and of course, our ever-popular cake stall.
We look forward to seeing you on Saturday 7th !

It was 10 years ago today!

Happy Anniversary Bata-ville - ten years have flown by since a little art commission in East Tilbury hatched the wonderful Bata-ville: We Are Not Afraid of the Future !

For us it's so much more than a film - we made such great friends along the way, worked with brilliantly talented people and have countless cherished memories to this day.
Who would have thought back then that one day you'd be able to watch the film online too - thanks to Distrify we all now can :-)

Photo: Dave Webb

Cambridge Festival of Ideas - Prehistoric-stylee

Unsurprisingly perhaps, mud (or 'cob') architecture as it's usually known as in England, appears very little in the archaeological record hereabouts. Ashes to ashes, mud to mud etc. Especially wet, cold, British mud. I have read of advances in Africa and the USA in identifying excavations of mud wall architecture, but there is something profound to me about the absence of these most primitive shelters from the tangible past celebrated in this country - I guess it leaves more work for the imagination to do.

Fortunately visitors to our cob building zone at Cambridge Archaeology Unit's Prehistory Day were in general under 8 years of age and hence spared us clueless artists a grilling on the evidence of earth-building in prehistoric building techniques. Their parents were just glad to have them occupied I think and therefore neither did they ask any tricky history questions - though if they had, there were plenty of real-life archaeologists around to point them to - all doing exciting things like butchering a deer, archery and -er-face painting. I even heard two chatting each other up,
'What's your specialism?"
"Oh, the Mesolithic transition in South East England"
"Cool. That's mine too"
One very keen small boy had done a thorough excavation of his back garden, that had - he proudly said - yielded 'Half of a wig curler'. I think his Dad was an archaeologist, or maybe this is normal stuff for kids in Cambridge to be into? If it is, we are definately not in Kansas anymore.

Anyhow, the local kids seemed happier just to get stuck in and muddy, assisting us in building a small cob 'tower block' that we were trialling for a sculpture proposal for the NW Cambridge site. I brought to the workshop some wooden beehive 'supers' (boxes in which the combs hang) to try as time-saving moulds, as Nina shows in the picture, these seemed to work well packed with mud, and the resulting one-metre high cob tower stacked up rather well, though I'm not sure it would win any RIBA awards.

You can see more pictures of the workshop on Flickr here

Thanks to Sara Harrop, CAU and to Maeve Polkinhorn of CAS for their help on the day

Karen picks up the award at the Filmhouse in Edinburgh

Scottish Mental Health Arts & Film Awards

I'd a lovely time last week, heading back to Edinburgh to pick up an award for our film Jaywick Escapes, selected from over 100 entries (docs and fiction).

The Scottish Mental Health Arts & Film Awards commend films from all over the world, so it was also great to see extracts from these on the big screen. We'd like to thank the panel and the organisers for both the award and the evening's event.

Come Cob with us!

FANFARE - Jaywick Escapes wins award!

We're thrilled to hear that we have won an award for Jaywick Escapes, our third film, from the Scottish Mental Health Arts & Film Festival.

Karen returns to our old stomping ground Edinburgh for the canapes and red carpet.....

Cambridge Festival of Ideas - Sat 26th Oct

We are leading a mud-build workshop from 10.30am - 4pm at this event, as part of our University of Cambridge archaeology residency - do come along but be prepared to get dirty :-)

Us with Hannah Rickards and Tania Kovats, on the North West Cambridge site

Say hello in Cambridge this autumn...

Here's the official art website for our University of Cambridge Archaeology residency we are doing presently - it's just gone live!

As part of the wondrous Cambridge Festival of Ideas we are doing a few free events:

Friday 25th Oct, 6.30-8.00pm

Artists-in-res talk with Hannah Rickards and Tania Kovats Institute of Astronomy. Madingley Road, Cambridge, CB3 0HA
Details and booking here

Saturday 26th Oct, 10.30am-4pm

Recycling archaeological soil samples into mud architecture as part of Prehistory Day
Cambridge Archaeological Unit, 34A & B Storey's Way, Cambridge, CB3 0DT
Details here (no booking needed)

Somewhere there's a Cob wall!

The reasoning behind Karen attending a cob building course all to hopefully be revealed soon!

What Will This Year's Harvest Be?

Celebrate the flavours of the harvest at Abbey Gardens Food Glorious Food Harvest Festival on Saturday 28 September, 1pm-4pm
A free event for all ages

  • Food-focused garden tour with garden club leader Hamish Liddle
  • Cake and chutney competitions
  • Food by Vegan Peasant made from Abbey Gardens’ produce
  • Test your food knowledge in our quiz
  • The Abbey Gardens Tea Ceremony (a London Metropolitan University project)
  • Bring a recipe for our recipe wall
  • ‘Get rid of your glut’ table
  • Folk music from Robin Grey
  • Cupcake decorating for kids
  • Innovation in outdoor cooking with Charlie Seber
  • …and our ever popular tea and cake stall

All activities are free. Tea, cake, lunch and honesty stall produce for donations to the garden.

Cake and chutney competition entries are to be prepared in advance and brought to the garden on the day.

And if you can’t wait that long, come and see us on Saturday 7 September when we’ll be taking part in NGS Gardens Open for Charity, from 10am – 5pm. Entry £2 (free for children) in aid of this year’s NGS charities; tea and cake for donations.

Harvest Festival poster design kindly donated by Catherine French