A collaborative public art project by RMIT researchers has sought to unite diverse cultural communities through a love shared by all: food.
The Flavours of Glenroy project was conceptualised and developed by RMIT art researchers Dr Shane Hulbert, Dr Tammy Hulbert and alumnus Rowena Booth, in partnership with Victorian disability service provider, Scope.
The project sought to unify the local community of the northern Melbourne suburb through the common experience of eating and cooking food, and to create a snapshot of the diverse local culinary practises of the Glenroy neighbourhood.
Developed as part of the RMIT's Centre for Art, Society and Transformation research centre, the project included an installation at Post Office Place, Glenroy, of specially designed "Mobile Edible Gardens" filled with edible plants that were distributed to the public.
Over the last few months, people supported by Scope had been growing the plants, with seedlings provided by CERES Nursery and others.
The plants, mostly herbs, were handed out to the passing public in exchange for answering the simple question, "What will you cook with these herbs?", accumulating an array of interesting responses that reflected people's unique culinary practises.
Dr Hulbert said the project focused on partnering with local organisations to stimulate suburban neighbourhood engagement through art in public space.
"The suburbs are thought of as sites where artistic cultural activity doesn't often occur, but the purpose of this project was to highlight that culture exists where people reside and that new languages can be developed relating to the private cultural habits of people of diverse backgrounds," she said.
"Edible plants in particular were used to look at how the experience of eating and growing food - which is communicated through this art project - can be used as a way of connecting the disparate communities of our city.
"Through the project we found locals enjoyed talking about their own edible gardens and were very pleased to be able to take away plants to add to them.
"They also loved to be able to tell us about their own culinary habits and how they had been influenced by their families, which reflected the diverse migrant influences in Australian urban society."
The fleet of Mobile Edible Gardens was created by the artists who sourced materials from local businesses in the Glenroy neighbourhood.
The interactions and findings from the event were recorded and will contribute towards a book that explores and celebrate the many cultural influences existing in the area.
Local choir the Glenroy Harmonsiers did a special performance over lunch during the day, which also featured a sausage sizzle, with all proceeds contributing towards the activities of Scope.
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