Ruskin Soup was a project initiated 2011 by Emi Uemura, a Japanese artist based in Beijing. She originally came to us through our relationship with Vitamin Creative Space, an organisation that explores alternative methods of engagement, inspired by the confrontations between the contemporary life and ancient Chinese philosophy. Emi had been working with Vitamin to develop food and horticulture projects in the business district of the Chinese capital.
Emi began her residency with an idea to grow vegetables on the grave of John Ruskin in St Andrews Churchyard in Coniston.
The project was based on Ruskin’s idea that every person should have a plot of land of a size to support them in life and after death (i.e as a vegetable and a burial plot), and his similarly odd obsession with a mythical mixed vegetable soup which he described as being the perfect nutritionally- balanced food, but never quite detailed a recipe.
Somewhat problematically, the idea of using Ruskin's grave as a productive vegetable plot met with local controversy and was eventually vetoed by Ruskin faction based at his former estate- our neighbours at Brantwood. However this impasse lead the project into opening up a wider set of concerns looking at general the state of our food culture.
Emi held public workshops on Japanese cooking in St Andrews Church and the Coniston Institute, including demonstration of how to make miso paste and soup.