Last month, artist Ming De Nasty showed a new body of photographs at Birmingham’s A3 Project Space. Sufficient formed part of a research project on urban growing within the city. The exhibition plotted her growing year during 2016. Annabel Clarke spoke with the artist about the project.
What prompted you to make the Sufficient series?
I grew up on a small-holding that has long since given way to urban sprawl. Despite having lived in a city since then, farming has never really left me. In a container or corner of garden I have grown things where I can. As an allotment holder I grow most of my own vegetables. I also keep chickens and bees.
For sometime I’d wanted to do a photographic project around ‘urban farmers’, people that keep livestock like chickens, bees, rabbits or goats as a source of food or who grow food in an urban environment. To look at why and how they do this. I applied for and got a Grant for the Arts award from Arts Council England and I started to search for individuals who would take part. I could find plenty of people that keep chickens or bees but I needed to find more culturally diverse individuals that where more representative of Birmingham. I decided to concentrate on the growing side of the project and explore what drives people to grow vegetables.
What do you love about growing?
For me it’s not only about growing some of my own food and knowing where that food has come from, it’s the whole process. Sowing the seeds and watching them grow. I love spending time in a space where time slows down where I can have the space to appreciate details, textures and life cycles. It’s a very meditative, almost magical experience for me.
How did you go about finding the people you photographed in your wider series?
I found the individuals by putting a call out on social media through allotment groups and other people that I knew who are keen growers. It proved to be quite difficult as naturally a lot of growers are quite private and shy. There were a few that I would have loved to have photographed and share their amazing stories but they just weren’t happy about being on show so I just had to let them go.
At A3 Project Space you exhibited images of your personal growing year, what prompted you to do this instead of showing a selection of images from the whole series?
I had a long conversation with Trevor Pitt who runs A3 and we decided the images and stories of the individuals were already represented on the blog space and that the images of my own growing year were much more personal and intimate. People generally expect my images to have people in them when in fact a lot of my own personal stuff does not. This was an opportunity to show some of these images.
Will you be continuing this project? What plans do you have for the future – for this project and others?
I’d like to continue this project in some way and am considering a few ways to take it forward. I also have plans for another exhibition, which will be totally unrelated to this project at A3 Project Space next year. Watch this space.
Could you tell us a little about the edition you have for sale?
Prints from the exhibition are on sale as A2 giclee prints in editions of five at £125 each. I also have in an edition of 50: a hessian sack containing four A6 giclee prints plus a pack of seeds which can be bought through my Etsy Shop.