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Medicine Stall

For one of the collaborative stalls, Anne (Valleys Kids), Jess (CCCU) and I came up with the idea of The Medicine Stall. First we envisioned the stall to have the appearance of an old sweet shop, with shelves full of big glass sweet jars. The idea was for participants to create conceptual 'medicines' or 'cures'. By using the available materials, the participants could write instructions on blank labels that they could stick onto the medicine bags about how to take the medicine. Some examples we initially thought participants could use were: "sprinkle this sand under your pillow for a good night's sleep," "use this cotton wool to dry away tears" and "use this soil to grow a vegetable garden."

When looking for ideas/materials to use to make the stall, I came across a sweet trolley in storage (see photograph 1) that my parents had made. After deciding that this sweet trolley would be ideal as the Medicine Stall, I then searched online for plastic sweet jars because the only sweet jars we already had were glass and would be too much of a health and safety hazard to take to TEx. I managed to find 10 plastic sweet jars of various sizes, of which I gave 5 to Anne.

We then began thinking about what ingredients we could use to fill the jars. We all agreed that instead of purchasing materials online or at shops that participants could find themselves, we wanted to present ingredients that represented the exchange between East (Kent) and West (the Valleys). Therefore, we decided it would be more meaningful to forage materials that would best represent each area. After committing to foraging the ingredients from each area, Rachel (VKs), Jess and I came up with this list of ingredients that best represented each area:

  1. Ingredients to be foraged by Valley kids:

  2. Coal

  3. Wool

  4. Sand

  5. Daffodil bulbs / Leek seeds

  6. Soil

  7. Ingredients to be foraged by Hollie, Jess:

  8. Sand - Margate

  9. Chalk - Dover

  10. Rose seeds

  11. Soil

  12. Tea leaves

However, Anne then mentioned that daffodil bulbs were out of season and so had to change to collecting leek seeds instead. Foraging some of these materials became difficult for a number of reasons, for example, it is illegal to take sand from beaches in the UK. Without wanting to commit any illegal activity, we compromised by purchasing the materials we couldn't source from the areas but made sure the materials that we were purchasing were sourced from/made in the area.

We were aware that there wouldn't be much storage space to store bags of ingredients, so we decided that we would restrict the weight of the medicine bags to 150-200kg so the ingredients in the jars could last throughout the four days. In order to weigh the medicine bags, I suggested using the old fashioned scales from my kitchen (see photograph 2). However, once we had all the materials to hand and ready to transport to Tate, we decided that we would need to bring supplies that we could store behind the sweet trolley as the jars wouldn't last the four days.

*Photographs 1 was taken on 6th February and 2 was taken on 25th February 2017 by author (Hollie Mackenzie).

The Medicine Stall at Tate Exchange (12-15th April 2017):

The Medicine Stall was a permeant attraction throughout the four days. It was an interactive stall that represented the connection between the two communities from either side of the border. Five jars were filled with items indigenous from England and five from Wales. The final ingredients included:

Kent, England:

  1. Rose petals

  2. Chalk (Dover Cliffs)

  3. Tea leaves (from Pluckley)

  4. Sand

  5. Soil (from Hollie's garden)

The Valleys, Wales

  1. Sand

  2. Soil

  3. Slate

  4. Leek seeds

  5. Coal (from the last pit in the South Wales Valleys).

Paper bags were provided for people to make their own “medicines” and label the bags with the instructions or ingredients they had chosen. The “medicines” ranged from cures for kitten’s broken legs to lovesickness, homesickness, world peace, capitalism, Brexit, Trump, racism, and other political issues.

Jess is planning to produce a case study about this medicine stall and her time manning it at Tate Exchange throughout the week. Her work will also take the form of an article, which she will aim to publish in a peer review journal.

Below is the signage used for The Medicine Stall at Tate:

"Make a medicine bag for the social ills of today!

Formulate your own medicine using the available ingredients on the stall. These ingredients have been sourced from the Valleys, Wales and Kent, England as an act of exchange between the West and East partnership. Weigh your medicine bag – make sure it doesn’t exceed 200kg! Write down what ingredients you used and what your medicine can be used for on the available labels.

Medicine bags can then be exchanged amongst participants, taken away with participants to exchange with others, or left for other participants to take. These medicine bags will help to facilitate and encourage healthy exchanges."

*Photographs 3-6 were taken by Jessica Elgar on 15th April 2017 and 7-9 were taken by Jason Pay on 12th April 2017.

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