The possibility of Lavender as a subject began for me as a conversation in the bar on the evening of Fiona’s birthday, (November 2012) after a Woodend Barn Music Society event. This was the first time I had heard anyone mention Banchory Lavender. Tony and Christina were telling a small circle of friends about how they had recently heard that it grew commercially in fields that could be seen from the North Deeside Road. I seem to remember a shared moment of imagining the affect of both the site and smell of fields of lavender.
1. The bar at Woodend Barn. 2. The Lavender Project opening event. 3. Lavender-pickers at Ingasetter Ltd. Banchory.
The motivation for such a project originally came from two sources: my doctoral research brief: ‘…how can these processes of creativity (artistic and organizational) best address the pressing social and economic issues of sustainability...’ (CDA August 2011). And another social moment during the interval of a film accompanied by live music at The Barn when Fiona introduced me to Genevieve who insisted that it would be good for Woodend Barn ‘To introduce the ideas and concepts that are part of ecological art to a wider audience and… to have an event that is fun and thought provoking and not too worthy’ (email G.Jones to F.Hope & H.Smith date). See CDA docs; Lavender Archive; emails.
Like artist, Allan Kaprow I was looking for a way to blur the boundaries between art and life. I perceived this to be a possible hook into the ongoing interests and interactions between participants for the sustainability aspect of my research question.
The Lavender Project evolved across my 1st year and became the milestone artwork of my 2nd year. As this project brewed in the following ways, I became the resident artist, which allowed me to interact in an open way to The Barns creative and organizational activities. One response to this period was the development, exhibition and invitation to reflect on a performative work; FOLD (2012), which in turn informed the development of The Lavender Project.
During 2012 Ideas around sustainability, art and ecology and ecological art are discussed by email and as conversations over coffee in Buchanan’s, the bistro next to The Barn. The process can be traced as a series of improvised movements between the social and formal infrastructures surrounding the organization; including visiting Genevieve’s self built eco-home in February 2012, and a meeting between Genevieve, myself and Mark, chairperson of the organization and Nicola its director. in June 2012 followed by a set of notes I produced and distributed to clarify our thoughts and get feedback. Timescales for an event and an exhibition are noted as well as a possible small amount of funding as part of a larger Year of Natural Scotland funding bid. It is agreed that I present the idea to the gallery Committee
In December 2012 an invitation is made to a group of 10 people, with a range of experiences and involvement in The Barn, to come to a New Years dinner at Mark and Fiona’s home to discuss ‘a sustainability event and exhibition’ Buchanan’s is closed for the first 2 weeks of January and so a Pot-luck supper is decided on as an alternative. The invitation notes that I have ‘received interest and support from the November gallery committee and is in the diary for August/September 2013.’
1. A gallery committee meeting at Buchanan's bistro. 2. A coach-party at Ingasetter Ltd. 3. Summer visitors at Ingasetter Ltd.
The first of Donald Schon’s 5 stages of generative metaphor, setting the conditions, can be can be traced back through the many interactions of the year leading to the dinner (Schon, date).
Many subjects were discussed, including the Alder tree and the red squirrel, while we ate, but the topic that told the richest stories and generated the most energy was The Deeside Lavender. Our approach was to select a metaphor that contained rich and interesting stories through which we could discuss the meaning of the term sustainability and in particular the specific organizational and wider sustainability of The Barn. As Paulo Friere proposes we are liberated through the experience or ‘transforming action’ of critically recognizing the nature of our own situations.
Tim Upson and Susyn Andrews in their taxonomy of ‘The Genus Lavandula’ identified a cultivar of Lavender, developed commercially by Chemist, Andrew (Drewie) Inkster, that is specific to Banchory. Once this subject was agreed the group met regularly to uncover the reasons why lavender thrived ecologically and commercially on Deeside from 1946 until it ceased trading in 1989.
1. The Lavender Project at Crathes Castle with head-gardener, Chris Wardle. 2. Bob Williamson, gardener at Ingasetter Ltd. 3. Bob distilling the lavender.