Chelsea Fringe Festival 2023
Every year since 2017, in collaboration with specialist craft gallery Thrown, we organise an exhibition and programme of events to take part in Chelsea Fringe.
The Fringe celebrates community and guerrilla gardening, and encourages links between gardens and art, literature, music, cookery, history, crafts, and ecology. The festival is based not just in Chelsea, but all over London, and in other cities nationwide and internationally, following the Edinburgh model: if it’s on topic, legal and interesting, it can go in the Fringe, no matter how outlandish or odd it may seem.
Details of the 2023 edition of the exhibition and its related programme of events can be read below. We look forward to unveiling the theme for the 2024 edition.
An exhibition and events programme curated for Chelsea Fringe 2023
In collaboration with specialist craft gallery THROWN and sustainably led floral art & design studio Metafleur, we are thrilled to present our fifth collaboration for Chelsea Fringe, the exhibition 'Trace'. Aiming to explore the marks we make, physical imprints and expressive gestures will add to thoughts about heritage, influence and our ecological footprint in this curated exhibition of 12 distinctive collections.
‘Trace’ opened at OmVed Gardens, 1 Townsend Yard, Highgate, on Friday 19th May and run until Sunday 4th June 2023 (open Wednesday-Saturday 11am-5pm, Sunday 12pm-5pm). Free admission, all artwork available to purchase.
The exhibition was punctuated by a programme of events including artist talks, workshops, music nights, garden walks and a zero waste themed supper club, further bringing together the many different angles on the theme of Trace within each of the collaborators’ worlds. Scroll down for more details.
Meet the artists in the exhibition
Sam Andrew is a Manchester ceramicist making a functional pottery range influenced by interests in perception, material reuse, and time living in Japan, Hungary, The Netherlands and the UK.
Internationally exhibited and renowned, his works speak with a fluidity and fluency that could be associated as much with vector graphics as an art-historical investigation of organic line. Coll’s work operates through a topology that is both inherent and reactive; his pieces move through space as easily and intuitively as they themselves are moved through by the viewer.
By exploring clay as a canvas for trace, memory, and mark making, Heather Gibson hopes to capture a history in the object, reminiscent of the cycle of time and the natural aging process.
Pip Hall's main interest is in exploring the illustrative and decorative aspects of lettering. She enjoys carving poetry and prose in stone and the opportunity to experiment with the way words can influence the form and layout of the lettering.
Born and raised in Cornwall, John has always had a close affinity to the sea and rugged coastline of West Penwith. The forms he creates are a direct response to the striking Cornish landscape, and he aims to make work which communicates the elemental processes that they have been through.
He includes locally found materials to further develop deep surface effects, texture and colour. John has become particularly interested in ancient Chinese glazes and how these interact with the ‘fly ash’ and embers which are so prominent when firing an anagama kiln.
Tim Martin constructs unique, mysterious and elegant ceramic sculptures and vessels. His work distills landscapes, figures and natural objects to their simplest forms. They aim to push an emotional response - a memory, a human pose, an exotic garden, a hint of something familiar, yet enigmatic, ambiguous.
Meg Rodger lives and works on the Isle of Berneray in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland - a speck amidst a chain of islands on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean.
To dwell in such a place, where the forces and cycles of nature are extreme, is both inspiring and humbling. Nature here is dictator, rhythm setter and provider despite our technological advancements. The artist works creatively with natural phenomena, taking her inspiration from the complexity, strength and beauty of the oceans and wild lands.
Vivienne is a contemporary and environmental artist and art educator born and raised in Switzerland, living and working in London. Her evanescent Japanese ink and natural pigment paintings of flowers, trees and edible and non-edible plants that are endangered or disappearing due to climate change are held in private collections throughout the UK, Europe, and the US. Her work also reflects on the future of food security, due to the unprecedented times we are living in. She paints plants that will feed us in the future and foods that adapt to extreme weather. Clean air, fresh water, and the plant's life cycle are interpreted in a more metaphorical style. Vivienne is drawn to the intangible space between abstraction and representation, which is often reflected in nature itself.
Anna Simson's work is inspired by the shapes and colours we see in nature, working with stoneware and porcelain to create functional and sculptural objects. The calming turquoise, dark marines and refreshing greens of the changing Mediterranean sea of her childhood have all been a strong influence in her choice of glazes.
Louis Thompson & Sophie Thomas
Presenting ‘Broken Ocean’, a collaborative project by award-winning glass artist Louis Thompson MA RCA and designer and creative campaigner Sophie Thomas. Formed by blown glass. waste glass fragments and found ocean plastic from Hawaii and other beaches around the world, the collection ruminates on the issue of ocean plastic. Called “beautiful, yet horrifying” by Craft magazine the initial Broken Ocean installation was originally shown at the 2019 Collect Open where it won the prestigious Collect Open award.
Behind Unit89 is Ula Saniawa, whose work and ideas are driven by instinctive emotional responses to the process of growth, repetition and duality, and a constant push and pull between the opposites of order and chaos, planned and spontaneous, perfect and imperfect. Having a background in architecture, the appreciation of surrounding environment is the starting point of every piece.
Sarah Walton acknowledges a debt to mediaeval pots, the arts of Mesopotamia and South-East Asia, to Neolithic Art, to Western Painting, sculpture, architecture, music, literature, poetry, wit, philosophy and religion, and to innumerable people down the years, especially Weislaw Pilawski, Irene Milburn and Jean Spacek.She is particularly known for her series of birdbaths reminiscent of square boulders, set on timber bases. Since 2019 she makes small sculptures inspired by landscape and fired in electric kilns.
also taking part in the events programme:
Alice McCabe (Metafleur)
Metafleur is a sustainable floral art and design studio founded by Alice McCabe and based in London, creating large-scale floral installations and living landscapes for events and films, alongside dried floral art for exhibitions. In connection to the theme of the exhibition and in line with her sustainable practice, Alice will work solely with materials from the OmVed site and work deliberately to extend tracks and traces palpable through the garden and into the space.
Michelle Cade (Mind Like Water)
Recently featured in The Guardian, Time Out & Mail On Sunday, Michelle (AKA Mind Like Water) has delivered workshops & performances at events such as Balance Festival, Wanderlust, Mind Body Spirit & All About Love Festival. She uses a blend of techniques embracing sound, scent, lighting and natural beauty as part of her holistic approach. Fascinated by the connection between sound, movement and nature, Michelle explores how music has played a vital part in rituals, raising consciousness and inducing altered states of reality for thousands of years.
Emi Fujisawa is the textile artist and designer based in England. Her philosophy is based on the proverb from Confucius that says “ We can learn new things from the past”. Strongly inspired by time-honoured textiles, she has developed unique palettes via her expertise in natural dyeing with a key focus on using natural, sustainable and ethical materials.
Vicky Chown is a medical herbalist, forager and gardener. She teaches permaculture and urban food growing in Queen’s Wood Community Garden and OmVed Gardens in London - where she also co-organises The Seed Saving Network - a biodiverse community of seed savers in London and across the United Kingdom. Vicky also co-runs, alongside Kim Walker, The Handmade Apothecary, a foraging and herbal educational project. Together they have co-authored two books: The Handmade Apothecary and The Herbal Remedy Handbook.
Will is a photographer, producer and director who works across several fields from music photography to commercial film production. He is a member of Forest Studio, a boutique creative studio based in east London. He enjoys long-distance running, improv comedy and owls.
Kiran is a naturalist with a passion for understanding nature. He has previously volunteered at the Natural History Museum, London Zoo and London Wildlife Trust. Kiran is currently a PhD student with the Seychelles Warbler Project using genomics (entire DNA sequences of individuals) to understand the ecology and evolution of island-endemic Seychelles warblers, which had nearly gone extinct in the 1960s. Key influences are his mother, a keen gardener and grandmother, both botanist and biology teacher. He also aims to improve diversity and accessibility in science and in natural spaces. His research can be found on GitHub.
Josephine Marchandise is the Head of the Creative and No Waste Kitchen at Omved Gardens. Growing up in a farming family, passionate about cooking, gardening and regenerative food growing, Josephine has later rediscovered preservation and fermentation while trying to slow down and commit to a low waste lifestyle.
Sol Polo is OmVed Gardens Curator and Programme Manager. She is interested in the interconnections of nature, knowledge and creativity.
Check the Events Programme
Friday 19 May,
Late Opening with live music by Antje Lang
6:30 to 9pm, £6.50 - £10
Visit the exhibition as the sun sets, have a drink and enjoy some live music by singer-songwriter Antje Lang in our magical glasshouse.
Saturday 20 May,
Kitchen Workshop: Leave no trace with Fermentation by Chef Jo March
11am to 12:30pm. £15
Fermenting techniques allow us to expand the life of the produce, increase the flavours of our dishes and nourish our gut health. This fermentation workshop will teach you the basics of fermentation and allow you to make the most of your veggies by learning lacto and kraut techniques in our spacious and luminous kitchen. Limited availability.
Saturday 20 May
3 to 4pm, £10
Join Vicky for a tour of our permaculture garden where she will answer questions and give tips on pesticide free growing and composting.
Sunday 21 May
Slow Sundays: Craft at the gardens
11am to 1pm, £10
Drop by and join our slow morning craft sessions and use the gardens as a blueprint for your creations. These sessions are unled and open to all at all ages. We will provide some basic materials for work in clay, collage and drawing and you can also bring your own materials.
Wednesday 24 May
Artist Talk by Vivienne Schadinsky
6:30 to 8:30pm, £10 in person (includes one drink), £3 via Zoom
Vivienne Schadinsky's Magic Hour paintings raise questions about vanishing food plants. Join her talk to know more about her extensive ongoing research on endangered and extinct plants and fungi and how she interprets them within her art.
Friday 26 May
Late opening with live music by Michelle Cade, Mind like Water
6:30 to 9pm, £10
Visit the exhibition as the sun sets, have a drink and enjoy a live performance by sound therapist, music producer, Artist & DJ Michelle Cade (Mind Like Water). Recently featured in The Guardian, Time Out & Mail On Sunday, Michelle uses a blend of techniques embracing sound, scent, lighting and natural beauty as part of her holistic approach and is fascinated by the connection between sound, movement and nature.
Saturday 27 May
OmVed Gardens Tour:
Think of yourself as the planet
11am to 12:30pm, £10
Join Curator Sol Polo and discover OmVed Gardens through the lens of artists, philosophers, botanists, economists and designers.
Saturday 27 May
Discovering the Ecology
of Urban Gardens
4pm to 5pm, £10
Every individual leaves an ecological trace, connected to the wider ecosystem. Join our ecologist-in-residence Kiran Lee to discover the ecology of urban gardens.
Sunday 28 May
Slow Sundays: Floral Art with Alice McCabe (Metafleur)
11am to 1pm, £10
Drop by and join our slow morning craft session led by floral artist Alice McCabe, from Metafleur. We will provide some basic materials for work in clay, collage and drawing and you can also bring your own materials. There will also be an opportunity to forage flowers from the garden to embed them in your creations.
Wednesday 31 May
The Space that Surrounds:
Unit89 & Tim Martin Artist Discussion
6:30 to 8:30pm, £10 in person (including one drink), £3 via Zoom
Enjoy a late opening of the exhibition with a drink and a discussion between artists Ula Saniawa (Unit89) and Tim Martin, facilitated by the exhibition curator Claire Pearce.
Thursday 1 June
Leave no Trace Dinner
by Chef Jo March
7 to 9:30pm, £45
A three course plant based tasting menu experience with a welcome cocktail included - wine/beers available to purchase in the evening.
Friday 2 June
Late opening with live music by singer-songwriter Maru Jota
6:30 to 9pm, £6.50 - 10
Visit the exhibition as the sun sets, have a drink and enjoy some live music by the Argentinian singer-songwriter Maru Jota.
Saturday 3 June
Botanical Stitching Workshop
by Emi Fujisawa
11am to 1pm, £15
Join Japanese textile artist Emi Fujisawa for a joyful and instructive workshop to stitch a
botanically inspired motif on a tea towel of vintage cloth, with yarn hand dyed with indigo by Emi — to take with you as a memory of your visit to OmVed Gardens, for your own kitchen, or as a gift for someone special. Please bring a discarded piece of cloth to embroider, and give it a new life,following Emi’s guidance.
Sunday 4 June
Kurinuki Masterclass by artist Heather Gibson
11am to 1pm, £60
Kurinuki or ‘to hollow-out’ is a traditional Japanese hand building technique where a form is found rather than made. Beginning with a block of clay, you will learn different techniques for carefully forming and carving your own unique kurinuki cup (yunomi).
During this three hour pottery class, Heather will guide you through sculpting your own distinctive carved vessel form. You will have the opportunity to explore a variety of tools such as looping and carving tools, as well as experimenting with some natural found materials which can be used to create impressions and surface traces in the clay.
This workshop is accessible to all levels of experience, whether you are new to clay or a potter who fancies experimenting with a new technique.