War on weeds uprooted at Field of the Unwanted

Perth 6000
ABC Radio Perth


Emma Wynne


March 19, 2018 09:00:01

Weeds are seen in a new light at the Field of the Unwanted. (ABC Radio Perth: Emma Wynne)
Field of the Unwanted fills a vacant block on Queen Victoria Street, surrounded by buildings, a busy road and the ships docked at Fremantle Harbour. (ABC Radio Perth: Emma Wynne)
The garden has taken five months to pull together and is open to the public on certain days.”It has been interesting caring for something that is despised and maintaining a commitment to that,” Mr Williams said.”People have been surprisingly supportive once they find out about the idea and the concept behind it, but every now and then you get somebody who doesn’t like it.”There is a lot of: ‘Why aren’t you growing vegetables?'”I think if we had planted a field full of flowers, nobody would question why we were giving them mulch and fertiliser and water.”

Dandelions might be loathed but they are surprisingly rich in nutrients, Chris Williams says. (ABC Radio Perth: Emma Wynne)
The field’s immediate neighbour is St Pat’s Community Support, a drop-in centre and emergency accommodation service for the homeless. Photo:
The Green Brigade: Chris Williams, Leah Gale and Pauline Miles in their field of weeds. But could they just be misunderstood? “A lot of those people are identifying with the idea around it,” Mr Williams said of the garden.”One guy said to me: ‘You should get us all in and take a photo of the unwanted people in the unwanted field’.” “We are so used to seeing weeds in a state of starvation, they are quite different when they are looked after,” Mr Williams said. (ABC Radio Perth: Emma Wynne)
“We were looking at doing some kind of greening installation,” Chris Williams, lead artist on the project, explained.”We were looking for sites and we came across a site that was full of weeds, and then somebody said that weeds are just plants that grow where they are not wanted. (Supplied: Gary Parris)
So the brigade carefully began constructing an English-style garden on the vacant lot; gravel pathways separate garden beds that now feature with a large variety of well-tended weeds. “We decided to look how we could elevate the status of weeds and how we look at these things which are seen as unproductive, uncontributing and unwanted.”How do we see them through a different lens?”

Field of the Unwanted, on a vacant block by the harbour in Fremantle, has been attracting curious onlookers. The Green Brigade, a group of artists from Fremantle, has carefully cultivated a garden of weeds to challenge perceptions about what is useful and attractive. “We set up a mock weed rescue and resettlement service so that we could take the unwanted and rehouse them here,” Mr Williams said.The weeds look different from your average garden variety, not just because they are neatly planted in ordered beds but because they are cared for. Photo:
The weeds take on a different look when they’re planted in ordered squares and are well cared for. Half dead, somewhat ugly and popping up where they aren’t wanted, weeds are the bane of most gardeners’ existence and ultimately destined to be pulled up or poisoned.