Open Jar Collective was commissioned by The NewBridge Project to take part in Hidden Civil War in October. Hidden Civil War was a month long programme of activity in Newcastle upon Tyne which invited activists and artists to contribute to a series of events that exposed, collated and presented evidence of a Hidden Civil War in Britain today.
Open Jar Collective artists Alex, Beth and Clem began with a period of field research, carrying out interviews with people in Newcastle and the North East of England who are connected to food and farming. Through this research we began to build a picture of the people active in the food system, including local organic growers, food policy organisations, academics, community activists, and food banks. People we spoke to expressed a need to have more opportunities to share knowledge with others working within the food system.
In response to this expressed need, we organised an event at Summerhill Bowing Club to enable connections to be made between people who are on the ‘front line’ of making food in Newcastle more accessible and sustainable. Our aim was to stimulate conversation, provoke new ideas and build the potential for collaboration by inviting people to share a meal prepared using locally sourced sustainable produce.
We invited people to describe their hopes and concerns, we explored the strengths, obstacles, unknowns and possibilities of the food system. We finished the day by devising a series of questions to instigate a wider conversation with the public.
The next day we took over a shop unit in Grainger Market, creating a space for conversation about food and building social connections in the face of austerity. We invited people to respond to the questions and generate their own. We gifted bundles of fresh herbs to the people who shared their thoughts with us.
We are in the process of collating all the material gathered which will be shared with the participants in the form of a series of postcards.