Kate Lynch is an Artist, Maker and Grower, currently living in Stoke-on-Trent. Her current practice explores and debates what constitutes creative activity through on-going research into permaculture, eco-communities and organic growing. Artwork addresses issues of sustainability and environmental concerns directly, through the use of recycled and found materials, natural materials, paints and pigments, and organic garden produce.

Fragments of historical knowledge and lore, extracted from found materials and books, are revived and re-interpreted to create artwork that deals with current issues and suggests ideas for a sustainable future.
Working on a local, domestic scale, Lynch promotes the idea of sustainable self-sufficient lifestyle within in the city environment and emphasises the importance of skill sharing and DIY methods through: workshops, exchanges and performance, the production of functional artist’s multiples and paper based artwork such as campaign posters, handmade books and zines.

The Unstructured Material Blog aims to document and debate what constitutes creative activity. The blog becomes a space to bring together inspirations and creative activities from various areas where these activities happen including the allotment, studio, and daily life…

I have had my allotment plot since 2006. In that time it has seen many crop rotations, it has gone through phases of being immaculately weeded and organised, to becoming overgrown and semi-wild; sometimes abundant, other times sparse. There have been successes and failures, struggles and easy times /lazy days; one plot has been the setting for intricate eco-systems, memories and activities. It offers me a place to retreat to within the city environment, my own place to grow and produce my own organic food on a functional level. On a creative and personal level it offers so much more.
As an artist I am beginning to explore the performative/endurance aspects of working the land, the visual qualities of the plot and the types of resources and raw materials that I can use to work with in my practice- such as plants for dyeing, natural clays and found materials. I am beginning to preserve more produce andincorporate my produce into functional artist’s multiples.

I am becoming more experimental with my approach to growing, and letting areas run wild for rich pickings of wild flowers and weeds. I am interested in permaculture and looking at ways of incorporating forest gardening into the plot. 

I also volunteer at a local community allotment and at an organic growing plot on a 'care farm'. 

I am part of an active bunch of studio artists at Airspace gallery, based in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent. In the studio I mainly paint, print and collage.

I think there are many ways of ‘foraging’ in the city, and for many different things - wild food, found and recycled materials…
I have recently begun re-connecting with landscapes and the abundance of wild food and resources on offer, both in the wild areas and within the city environment. Foraging seemed to be a minefield of identification issues- what to pick when, what part of a plant to harvest, how to harvest etc etc, and when picking in a city you have to consider pollution, spraying, contaminated land…
However, my advice is to just start doing it. I began learning a bit by reading books and going to talks, but you simply cannot learn a thing until you physically pick, smell, taste, process a plant.  Just choose one to begin with, and identify it correctly. Then consider what you can make with it or how you can use it.

I began with Hawthorn in 2011. I learned more about Hawthorn on a foraging walk. I kept looking and seeing them everywhere. I could then identify the Hawthorn at a glance by late summer when it was fruiting. I picked Hawberries from local trees. I looked up in a book what could be made with the berries, and found how to make ‘fruit leathers’, and processed the berries the same day. This summer I have returned to the same trees to pick young edible leaves and blossom to make a tincture with. 
I regularly pick nettles from my garden or wherever else I find them, and make tea, use them instead of spinach in dishes or make nettle soup.

I have just identified some local lime trees and I am looking forward to picking & drying the lime flowers in June to make an herbal tea.

These are just a few acquaintances I have made in the past year, but the path becomes clearer… 

There are ways of foraging in the city, it is simply getting to know exactly what you are picking and being sure it is safe, in an unsprayed, unpolluted area.
Useful resources I’m cross referencing from at the moment:
Nature in your basket- Richard Mabey
Wild food-Roger Phillips
Wild drugs: a foragers guide to healing plants- Zoe Hawes

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