Old School Reserve (summer) by Jean Stewart.

Painting Eden

This new exhibition celebrates some Auckland's best hidden green spaces

Transporting and inspiring, Workers in Dirt celebrates some of Auckland’s hidden green spaces, and the growers who tend them. The series of documentary-style artworks by Jean Stewart were painted en plein air, with Stewart setting up camp in community, market and private gardens — each location leading her to the next.

“In some ways this became a kind of performance. The gardeners could watch the painting develop; it was a shared experience. I would sit down to my work with coloured mud and they would be working the earth around me.”

Pictured here is a detail from Old School Reserve (summer), showing a large teaching garden in Mangere, where “nothing is wasted”, says Stewart.

The artworks are on show at Silo 6 in Wynyard Quarter, as part of the 10-day festival Growing the Future, which explores the food-growing movement in Auckland. Inspired by the communities she discovered while working on the series, Stewart conceived the festival with Emily Harris of Urban Pantry and Sue Clark from Art at Work.

The programme is packed with gardening inspiration: you can explore an edible urban garden, listen to talks from growers, take part in planting and art workshops, swap your seeds and produce, or enjoy a screening of the film festival hit Gardening with Soul. Enough to have you itching to get into the garden.

• Growing the Future runs until April 27. Workshops are $5, other events are free. For more information see jeanstewart.co.nz or facebook.com/growingthefutureak

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New Zealand Herald

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