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Harvest at QAGOMA

Last week a new exhibition started at the Qld Gallery of Modern Art. ‘Harvest’. A celebration of food, it’s less an exhibition and more a festival, encompassing traditional and modern artworks and installations, talks, themed dinners and a film series. Best of all, apart from the dinners, it’s all free. Brisbane’s a great place to live!

Painting in the Qld Gallery of Modern Art titled ;Still Life: Coconut & others things... by Shabazi 2009

‘Still Life: Coconut & others things’ Shabazi 2009

The film series is of particular interest for me as I’ll be able to re-connect with some movies I watched many (many) years ago such as ‘Like Water For Chocolate’ and catch up on movies that I really should have seen but never got around to such as ‘Babette’s Feast’ (Babette’s Gaestebud) which I saw last Friday evening. One film I will be seeing no matter what happens is ‘Big Night’ with Tony Shaloub and Stanley Tucci. It come up in ‘best film and best food film’ lists constantly, so I’m going along to see if it’s really as good as everyone says. There’s a cornucopia of films from across the globe including documentaries, dramas and comedies. All up, there are over 40 cinematic treats on offer and I intend to see as many as possible.

I’d like to say that after each movie I will report back, letting you know my thoughts and creating a dish inspired by the particular film but…. Still, I will try to get back to you from time to time.

Painting in the Qld Gallery of Modern Art showing four people sitting around tiffin boxes, bottles of water and a bottle of fruit. They wear modern clothing, two with their hands clasped in prayer.

Is that a tiffin box I spy?…

The Gleaners & I (Les glaneurs et la glaneuse)
(2000/Dir: Agnes Varda/82 mins)

On Wednesday evening I went to see ‘The Gleaners & I’ a French documentary about modern days gleaners who still gather discards from harvested fields as well gleaning in more contemporary environments such as at the end of market trading in the streets of Paris. Rooted in a history of impoverished field workers who made ends meet and fed their families from what they gather after the harvest, it is well represented in art history. In particular, the famous painting ‘The Gleaners’ (1857) by French artist Jean-Francois Millet. (Surely an ideal surname if you are painting harvest and field scenes.)

This was a fascinating film with gleaners talking about their motivations and drivers for gleaning. Some do it to make ends meet, some because it’s a family tradition and others because they can’t abide waste. There is one guy who holds down a job but has not paid for a meal in over 10 years. Along the way we get to know the Director, Agnes who enjoys a fig plucked from a tree here and some heart-shaped potatoes from there. She has some wry observations about the ageing process, whether it’s fruit or people and a damning commentary on food waste.

'Mayfair: (Swamp rats)  MacPherson 1994-95. Comprising 97 masonite signs for bait, fish, ice etc

‘Mayfair: (Swamp rats) Ninety-seven signs for CP, JP, BW, GW & RW’ MacPherson 1994-95

I don’t have a gleaning or foraging recipe for you but I will draw your attention to a post I did last year where I went on a guided neighbourhood walk to forage for edible weeds: Eat Your Street. I am still timid with some of the weeds as I don’t want to incorrectly identify any and end up in emergency but there are some such as plantain (Plantago Major) that I am quite comfortable picking and using in salads or pies.

I’d also like to point you in the direction of a great website: RipeNearMe.com. You can register when you have grown or have spotted an excess of produce in the local neighbourhood. It’s a technology driven gleaning movement. Because really, though they are delicious, after you’ve eaten your bodyweight in mangoes, you need to share the love. The more people who contribute to this site, the better it will be.

Painting at the Qld Gallery of Modern Art: 'Forking Tongues' Gill 1992 with spirals of Dried Chillis & Cutlery on a cement floor

‘Forking Tongues’ Gill 1992

The Harvest exhibition is one to visit a few times so you can take your time and enjoy it in bite sized chunks. There are also some great snacks and meals on offer at the various cafes and restaurants to compliment the exhibition. I hope you can make it.

HarvestSign for the Harvest Exhibition at the Qld Gallery of Modern Art
June 28 – Sep 21 2014
Free entry



8 comments… add one
  • Lizzy (Good Things) July 12, 2014, 2:27 pm

    Wow! What a fabulous event!

    • Fiona Ryan July 12, 2014, 10:45 pm

      Yes, it’s lots of fun Liz and the movies have all been good so far.

  • Maria July 12, 2014, 2:48 pm

    I saw this exhibition advertised recently, and gosh it looks great! Will definitely be along to see it (and partake of some films – Babette’s Feast is one of my all time faves).

    • Fiona Ryan July 12, 2014, 10:46 pm

      Hi Maria – you better get your skates on as Babettes Feast is only on again tomorrow (Sunday)! Worth a visit nonetheless.

  • Steve July 12, 2014, 6:11 pm

    I remember seeing the gleaners some years ago at an afternoon session at Biff in the Regent. How times have changed. And as soon as I saw the pineapples in abundance at the harvest exhibition, I knew you’d be going!

    • Fiona Ryan July 12, 2014, 7:52 pm

      I just admired the pineapples this afternoon in more detail actually, when I went to see ‘Soul Kitchen’. They are truly tacky and wonderful! Thanks for reading and leaving a comment Steve.

  • Tandy | Lavender and Lime July 14, 2014, 5:13 pm

    gleaning dates back to biblical times and it is interesting to note that it still occurs in modern times. Such a great way to ensure there is no wastage 🙂

    • Fiona Ryan July 14, 2014, 10:10 pm

      They had some photos of gleaners from early last century at the start of the film as well as references to various artworks. It is good to see people still gleaning but sadly, the waste of many farms and shops was enormous.

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