Speak to the earth and it will tell you
54 large-format hardcover diaries for record-keeping by members of 54 allotment garden associations, each 32 x 24 x 8.5 cm, with a green cloth binding, red lettering, red ribbon and embossed plant motif
Two guest books for the allotment garden associations Mühlenfeld e. V. and Martini e.V., 32 x 21.5 x 3 cm
Paper bags with seeds of the dove tree (or “handkerchief tree”) (Davidia involucrata) and accompanying card with planting and cultivation instructions for visitors to the gardens
Schrebergarten colonies (allotment gardens) Mühlenfeld e. V., Lublinring 1, and Martini e. V., Gartenstr. 174
* 1966 in London, Great Britain
lives and works in London
Allotment gardens (in German, Schrebergärten) are oases of relaxation and of withdrawal into a private realm. At the start of the 19th century, local authorities in Germany laid out gardens for the poor and needy in order to enable the urban working classes to grow their own food and improve their quality of life through contact with nature. In the era of late capitalism, however, such gardens were viewed as refuges for middle-class urbanites city-dwellers seeking self-fulfilment, shielded from social pressures to achieve. Jeremy Deller perceived in Münster’s allotment gardens heterotopian micro-utopias within the local culture; in line with Michel Foucault, he viewed them as places in which social norms and conventions can be simultaneously represented, contested and inverted. Well aware of the great importance and social function of the garden since John Ruskin, William Morris and the British Arts and Crafts movement, Deller invited members of 54 Schrebergarten allotment associations in Münster to keep a journal. Over the decade from 2007 to 2017 they were to record their expertise in the areas of flora and fauna, for example with regard to tree pruning, sowing and flowering times or insect life. They were also to document social activities and events as well as information relevant for gardeners. In this way the allotment gardeners had the opportunity to compile their own subjective chronicles. Browsing the pages of these books, they convey both individual attitudes to life and the spirit of the day.
At another level, Deller’s conceptual work also represents the creative energy of allotment gardeners with regard to the discourse on participation since the 1990s. While themes such as urban gardening, street art and community-based art were widely discussed in the field of art, interest did not extend to allotment gardens. Deller brought them back into the discourse as a traditional element in the building of community.
- Still existing