Making and Reinventing: Unearthed and Father Chris Riley’s YOTS

Each year Eden Gardens nurtures not only artists as part of its art installation exhibition, but also community. For decades a relationship of giving and caring for Father Chris Riley’s Youth Off The Streets has been fostered, and for the last six, opportunities through art have grown.

Anna Ainsworth, Community Development Manager and Director explained “Having the artists work with the Youth Off The Streets students is one of the Unearthed highlights for me. The artists generously volunteer their time. The students tap into their own creativity and experience what is possible through art.”

In this year’s exhibition, artists Mary van den Berk and Belinda Piggott have created a community based work called Message in a Bottle. It’s made with upcycled milk bottles that have each been transformed with new labels (each a mini work of art) and plants, which will continue to grow over the six month showing. YOTS students participated in the planting and creation of new “labels” as part of an excursion in which four schools Chapel School, Key College, EDEN College and Bowen College.

Dr Mary van den Berk remarked that "It was a pleasure to hold a workshop with YOTS students making artworks to put on milk bottles and planting plants in them. The energy levels and enthusiasm the students brought with them was palpable. There was lots of chatter and also total silence as students focussed on printing from nature and creating beautiful and varied interpretations. The artworks they made are being turned into stickers to paste onto milk bottles which will be added to the installation Message in a Bottle. The milk bottles they planted have already been added."

The students also wove their own pieces into Transference, by Leanne Thompson, learning how to make string and “listen” and “connect” to the trees and hear about the secret signally trees make through fungal mycelium. This, coupled with collage making with Rmsina Daniel, a Syrian emerging artist, which also reimagine found and foraged materials, completed the day.

Nate, teacher from Chapel School commented: “The students were extremely engaged and enjoyed direction from the artists in producing their own pieces of art and adding to the installations. These workshops extended the students environmental literacy surrounding naturally occurring landscapes and ecosystems, and how we as humans add to and impact these and create our own. Students increased their understanding of the relationship between the human effect and nature through the coupling of repurposing every day, single-use items with plants and raw materials to create and enhance beautiful artworks promoting them to critically think about their position within the world, and how nature always seems to find a way to rejuvenate”.





By: Meredith Kirton