Theory informs, but practice convinces – George Bain at the Galleries on the mound

First committee meeting of the Saughton Mains Allotment Association this morning, where I learnt about the role of treasurer and the bean-counting that entails. We also heard about the other assets and duties that the committee is responsible for, which includes maintaining the composting loo. There was a diversion into the relative merits of sawdust versus leafmould for the bulk material that goes in a composting loo, and a move to get some training on how to maintain our loo. I think this is a critical piece of infrastructure and allows us to recycle the nutrients, so I’m keen to get involved.

Coincidentally, the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia has just published this piece on urine closes the NPK loop.

I then had some time to kill before I collected the family coming back from Glasgow, so popped into the galleries on the mound to visit the exhibition on George Bain and Celtic Art [1][2]. It’s not a big exhibition, yet it touches on both celtic knotwork theory and examples of rugs, ceramics and a bracelet. I was particularly taken by the phrase theory informs, but practice convinces.

This exhibition is tucked away at the back of the galleries. That’s great because near to the exhibition space there’s a few paintings from the late C19th which focus on vegetables and the horticulture trade. Arthur Melville’s Cabbage Garden was shown at last year’s blockbuster Impressionist Gardens and there’s a couple of other stunners. I always love the chance to look at these pictures. I’m intrigued by the note that I only saw today, that “vegetable garden subjects were popular among artists throughout Europe in the late 1870s and 1880s” — perhaps scope to follow up here.

Depicts a vegetable stall with rhubarb, leeks, cabbages and root vegetables

The vegetable stall, William York MacGregor

A cabbage garden, with a labourer stopping work to talk to a lady

A cabbage garden, Arthur Melville

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Food security begins at home

I was quite excited to hear that the Society of Biology was running a symposium on food security, partly in response to Tim Lang’s talk at the RSE back in February (slides from Tim Lang’s talk are available halfway down this page.) But when I found out it clashed with an Extraordinary General Meeting of my allotments association, I had some prioritising to do.

From the start I guessed that a symposium from the Society of Biology would emphasise the biotechnology aspects of food security, and would probably be quite conservative in the sense of providing technological solutions within the current economic system. With this in mind, I arranged to go to the allotment association EGM and catch the last of the talks at the Society of Biology. So Saturday had a flurry of food-related activity in the late morning.

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