Asylum seekers, mental health activists and people living in housing distress, together ask how the needs & rights of humans for shelter can coexist with our need to care for the planet we live on.
The brownfield former Mackies factory site in West Belfast is a case in point. Located in an area where an estimated 2,000 children are living in housing stress, the site’s planned development is as a greenway, without any additional housing.
But why can’t we have both? Why can’t we have housing & environmental protection?
Future Garden is the story of two gardens. The Mackies factory owner’s remarkable 12-acre private botanical garden at Helen’s Bay which has been cared for over 100 years… and our Future Garden which does not exist yet.
This is a speculative project of co-curation imagining a future garden for the brownfield Mackie’s site in Belfast; the plants that could grow here & the ethics of care that could underpin it.
We held open calls for donations of plant cuttings, seedlings, and ideas for Future Garden. Each plant was welcomed into our collection, where we transcribed the intention, story, or reasoning behind your donation. The plants were housed in a specially designed greenhouse located in the MAC’s upper gallery during the At The Table exhibition.
Ed Devane, Thurs 6th April (At The Table Opening Night)
Sound artist, instrument designer, and educator Ed Devane who used sensors to capture the electrical impulses which all plants emit in response to their environment, and feeding these impulses through synthesizers Ed enabled a range of plants – destined for our Future Garden – to make music.
Rachel Fitzpatrick, Sat 27th May (Our Imagination Station)
Plant a Dream
Be inspired by our ‘Future Garden’ in the Upper Gallery we will create a little home for your dreams. During this family workshop, we will decorate a plant pot using colorful paper and pens while imagining a kinder future where everyone is equal. You can use your decorated pot to plant your own dreams to grow.
Charlotte Salter-Townshend, Sat 17th June (Talk)
The Radicle Garden
Gardens are often captivating, delightful, and restorative spaces, but they are frequently thought of as being politically neutral. However, behind every great garden is a foundation of appropriation and colonial power. This talk by Charlotte Salter-Townshend reviews the uncomfortable politics behind beautiful gardens by looking at the darker roots of individual ownership, spatial inequity, and unsustainable practices. The drive to the garden reminds us that humans are part of nature. From these roots comes the radical idea – we are part of a complex ecosystem made up of symbiotic relationships.
Charlotte Salter-Townshend is a Guide & Information Officer at the National Botanic Gardens of Ireland. She regularly presents on matters of plants and people and has been an expedition guide from Aberdeen to Antarctica.
John McIlduff, Fri 23rd June (Talk and Discussion)
Future Garden Concept
Co-Artistic Director of Dumbworld, John McIlduff will explore his thinking behind Future Garden. Taking two areas of land in Greater Belfast as a starting point – the brownfield site of the former Mackies factory and the private botanic garden established by the Mackies family some 12 miles away at Helen’s Bay – Future Garden explores issues of care, land ownership, land usage, colonization, migration & housing needs.
We can build homes and protect the environment. Support here at Take Back the City.