About GROW

GROW is a 15 month project that has seen Ryde Arts Festival working with a range of local partners, including: schools, the Allotment Association, Ryde in Bloom, Surestart children’s centre, Women’s Institute, Isle of Wight Symphony Orchestra, local Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Quarr Abbey. These partnerships have enabled Ryde Arts to explore, produce and exhibit across a wide spectrum of venues and organisations.

Artist Jo Hummel-Newell explains her work at Quarry Road Allotments

The words ‘community’ and ‘grow’ are the two main points on the Grow Ryde compass and as resident artist I’m interested to understand how quarry road allotment spills out into the wider community and how my art can be a part of that.

There is a wonderful handcrafted aesthetic to the allotments, each plot is individual and usually made up of salvaged and reclaimed objects which harks back to the ‘make do and mend’ sensibilities of post war Britain.

I’ve started to make work which references this hand made quality and I’m interested to think of ways of inviting the allotment holders to make work with me.

For this years festival I’ve curated an exhibition which is inspired by my residency. SEEDS is an exhibition of small intimate works which illustrate the initial idea stages of an artwork. I see this little exhibition as the first bridge for the allotment holders and public to cross and hopefully create a dialogue around the themes of Art and Growing.

I was recently given the chance to work with local teachers who came to my studio building to learn how to make paper engineered plants using a video tutorial which I created as a way of sharing further some of the projects themes. The teachers had a wonderful afternoon and we talked a great deal about creativity and growing with children.

When interacting with the public on art projects you will often come across people who take the ‘I don’t understand’ or ‘what a load of rubbish’ escape route. What I love about this project is that everyone has a bit of ownership over growing, and so they feel welcome and ‘part of’ before you’ve even started, its very enlightening.

Photography by Julian Winslow