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Dis(taste)Open in Lightbox
People sampling foraged plants on the site. Distaste project 2017
Dis(taste)Open in Lightbox
Building a paper kiln. Dis(taste) project 2017
Dis(taste)Open in Lightbox
Vessel experiments coming out of the paper kiln. Dis(taste) project 2017
Dis(taste)Open in Lightbox
Tea experiments in the cups inspired by the site. Dis(taste) 2017
Dis(taste)Open in Lightbox
Individually created tea in the cup inspired by the site. Dis(taste) 2017
Cup and tablecloth inspired by the site. Dis(taste) 2017

Dis(taste), a project with Hannah Brackston commissioned by Water Works, Barrhead 2017

Water Works is a community garden on the site of a sewage works in Barrhead, which is also where the Shanks company began. In response to the reinvention of this derelict industrial site into a social, growing and wildlife hub for the local area; myself and Hannah worked with local people to investigate the sites history through the different ‘cycles’ which continue to take place there, such as the re-cycling of water, nutrients and land.

We ran workshops with different groups involving practical processes from planting to ceramic design, kiln firing to tea brewing. The ideas and experiments generated through the project culminated in a Tea Ceremony event in October.

One of the groups we worked with was pupils from Carlibar School to explore the idea of creating a ceramic (drinking or pouring) vessel – inspired by the colourful past and the current ecology of the site. They visited the site to record their observations of plants, wildlife and the remnants of the sewage works. We then experimented with making vessels which were then fired in a paper kiln that the pupils built. The outcomes were varied and personalised and acted inspiration for working up designs for a permanent tea set for use on the site.

We did a workshop called ‘Teas for plants, soil and people’ was a public event on the site. This included a led foraging walk, examining and collecting edible wild plants which have already colonised the site. From nettles and raspberries leaves suitable for tea making to salad leaves, flowers and berries. We worked together to create practical new growing spaces on the site, tailored to producing different kinds of teas. We established raised beds for cultivated herbs – for folk in the future to use for drinkable tea’s. We discussed plants which have similar vitalising benefits for the soil directly and to demonstrate this participants prepared a bed with green manure seeds. We also began an experiment brewing up some rather smelly but brilliantly nutritious compost teas for plants (organic plant fertilisers.) These were added to water and left to brew (stored in an reclaimed Shanks toilet of course!).

The final workshop involved people in making the tea set which would be used for the tea ceremony at the end of the project and remain on site for other future events. We had created a template inspired by the designs of the school pupils and people dropped in to make their own versions of it. Drawings of plants and wildlife on the site were made into transfers which became part of the final design of the cups.

The tea ceremony took place in October and brought together people who had been involved in the workshops. We took another tour of the site to see what had changed and gathered some ingredients for the tea. We sniffed, tasted and tested lots of different tea ingredients and then everyone created their own tea recipe and made a tea bag for their cup. The rest of the afternoon was spent drinking tea and eating cake.