Hydroponic ✿ Transplanting roots through migration

Garden of Stories

4 August 2022

Eva Abbinga, Arrival of the Raja, performance 2016

The Hydroponic Garden is a place to appreciate the root system of plants, just as the migrant experience exposes cultural roots to be transplanted.

The steward for the hydroponic garden is Bic Tieu. Bic was born in a refugee camp in Indonesia to parents who fled Vietnam. She grew up in Western Sydney and is now teaching object making at University of New South Wales.

She describes the attraction of hydroponic gardening:

Growing plants in water is a term described as hydroponic gardening. Hydroponic is the practice of growing plants without soil. A south-facing unit teaches you many things about plants. I have learnt which species of plants can thrive in limited conditions such as low light and no soil. Through this process, I discovered succulent plants are wonderful natural designs and propagate easily in inner city urban environments. I grow a species of plant called Philodendrons. I have the common types, with climbing trails of heart-shaped leaves. A fascinating fact about these plants is that they can survive on trees, on the ground and in water without soil. They can take root anywhere! This makes me think of the human condition, abilities, and migration. Often movement in migration takes on a similar toll where one has to adapt to new places and cultures.

I have a selection of philodendrons growing in recycled glass bottles and glass cylinders. I love that I can see their roots and leaves flourish. It is an easy plant to adore and we can understand why its origins from the Greek words; philo meaning “love, affection” and dendron meaning “tree”. Looking through my glass bottles and seeing roots take place without soil is a strong metaphor and reminder of my personal experiences of family migration and many shared stories on the Australian soils.

See also the Safe Harbour issue #14.

Kevin Diallo ✿ Ode to Zouglou  - Claire Grant talks to Kevin Diallo about the vivid imprints of his journey from Cote d’Ivoire in the churchie emerging art prize.
Hydroponic ✿ Transplanting roots through migration - The Hydroponic Garden is a place to appreciate the root system of plants, just as the migrant experience exposes cultural roots to be transplanted.
Oceans in a tea cup - Alma Studholme admires the work of Jayanto Tan and reflects on her own work that bridges migration with the warmth of a teacup.
The box: A magic object of objects - Beginning with the Japanese animation Spirited Away, Bic Tieu traces her fascination for the magic of the box in Japanese craft and discovers how it connects humans and nature.
Displacement: Crafts enterprises as empowerment for refugees and displaced people - As part of the Reinventing the Wheel series, Sharon Tsang de-Lyster reflects on the role of craft in the lives of refugees today.
Pesh boro: Epic weaving from Afghanistan - Australian-based artist Khadim Ali introduces us to his weavers in Kabul, who demonstrate a fortitude characteristic of Hazara culture.
How the dye was cast on the road back to Laos - Samorn Sanixay shares the story of her return to Laos and one of her delicious rose and onion dye recipes.
Finding your feet: A communal tapestry in full bloom - Jane Theau describes a remarkable textile project she coordinated with Afghani refugees Sayd Abdali and Nasaphah Nasaphah, reflecting how craft can bring together people who are pushed apart by the economic system.
Paula do Prado ✿ My abuela’s hands - Paula do Prado shares the story of her family’s epic story from Africa via Uruguay to Australia, as reflected in her intricately threaded creations.
Te Hosek’en Harw: The Edge of the World - In consultation with the Selkn’am community, Sol Contardo created ceramic works inspired by their mysterious culture, located in Tierra del Fuego.
Muhubo Suleiman ✿ A home within a home - In her Melbourne flat, Muhubo Suleiman has re-created the aqal, thatched hut, her childhood home in Somalia.
Kultur-All Makaan: A cool place for African warmth - Kultur-All Makaan is a wondrous tent for bringing together refugee cultures of Central Victoria, including the Sudanese singer Dabora Dout whose beads welcome visitors.
Hanoia ✿ Vietnamese history in lacquer - Our December laurel goes to Hanoia and Tran Nu Yen Khe for an object that uses the medium of lacquer poignantly to tell a story of deep history.
The fabric of memory: Story cloth as art and history for Hmong in USA - Mary Louise Buley-Meissner and Vincent Her pay homage to the embroidered stories of Hmong artist Xao Yang Lee.
Paula do Prado ✿ El Grito - Paula do Prado's textile work El Grito expresses a cultural resistance drawing on her African ancestry.
Where I came from - This online exhibition features images of works alongside glimpses of their maker's past. Tap on each image to see where the artist has come from. 
An orchid in the desert – the lacquer journey of Bic Tieu - Kevin Murray explores how Bic Tieu uses the medium of lacquer to tell a unique Australian story,
Wara art from Niigata to York: Japan-inspired hay sculptures 🇯🇵 - Jenny Garroun and Ilsa Bennion tells the story of a West Australian wheatbelt town that was revitalised through the Japanese craft of making rice stalk sculptures
Thanks giving in Australia: Eva Heiky Olga Abbinga’s Rajah Quilt - Kevin Murray describes a project that makes connections across time to the beginning of settlement and space with Aboriginal and craft guild collaborations
Vahana: An Indian-Australian cross-cultural ceramic experience - Bernard Kerr describes the epic production of a 3.5 m high terra cotta horse at the Midland Junction Art Centre by potter Mr Kasirajan from Tamil Nadu
From village to suburb: How Karen weavers retain their culture as art - Pauline Tran describes the way Karen refugees in Australia have been able to use their weaving skills through collaboration with Sara Lindsay and the Australian Tapestry Workshop.
From Thailand to Turkey: Ceramics bloom in Eskişehir - Sukumarl Leksawat (Tuk) is enchanted by the welcome in Turkey, where she finds many similarities with Thailand. The city of Eskişehir provides a site for Thai orchids to bloom in the Turkish sun.
Chilean horsehair jewellery across the Pacific - Crin (horsehair) jewellery is idiomatic to Chilean culture. Trinidad Estay has taken this technique to the other side of the Pacific where it develops a close relationship to its equine origins.
Thailand residency: A string of flowers – a sequence of events - "The freshness of the flowers is also key to the beauty of a Phuang Malai and I was also told you should not smell the Malai as the scent is reserved for the receiver." Jess Dare takes up a residency in Thailand to understand the culture of the garland. She faces a dilemma. How can a jeweller, how makes works of lasting value, respond to the culture of the garland which is so ephemeral?
We are all Merantau: Macassan journeys - Abdul-Rahman Abdullah is a Perth-based sculptor whose figurative work conjures the experience of otherness in Australia.
The Bolga basket: Ahmedabad comes to Accra - The purpose of the initiative is to adapt sensitively basket-making traditions, practices and challenges facing Africa’s women basket weavers, through drawing on the experience and knowledge of India’s traditional craft and highly developed design sectors.
Islam on Australian shores - Philip George creates surfboards inspired by Islamic architecture.
Tales of Wonderland: Schmuck aus Neuseeland – jewellery from Aotearoa New Zealand - Warwick Freeman and Karl Fritsch go on a fishing expedition for contemporary jewellery in New Zealand / Aotearoa
CIAF and Ghost Net art of the Far North - Sonja Anderson writes about the current status of Ghost Nets and why it has been so successful in communities of Far North Queensland.
Straighten out in Korea - Kenny Son returns to South Korea to straighten out his metalsmithing.

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