The theme for groving 2023 is Encroach. In common with many areas of the UK, Bury St Edmunds is experiencing a huge expansion in housing, including infill, new estates in the town and on the outskirts. Rapid development can feel overwhelming for residents, and puts pressure on infrastructure. This encroachment impacts physically but also on our sense of space and room to exercise, to breather.
More concerning, our expansion of the built environment inexorably erodes the habitats and space available for wildlife in an unequal battle for resources. Even brownfield sites provide valuable habitats for wildlife, broken ground to enable run off, and welcome gaps in a relentless urban landscape.
Whilst housing developments require planning consent, there is a subtle but persistent erosion and threat to our common land and rights of way. But encroachment isn't always negative - a positive example would be the speed at which plant life colonises empty land, which quickly becomes home to a complex ecosystem of insect, animal and bird life.
There are many forms of encroachment in contemporary life, when our personal space and privacy feel invaded - can be invaded. There is the constant media output, we can be subject to sensory overload.
We used to leave our private space for work, for shopping or entertainment but these have all now infiltrated out homes. There is no longer a separation between our private and public domains, and we are influenced, indeed controlled, by technology.
The artists responding to this theme are Mianam Bashir, Stuart Bowditch, Jacquie Campbell, A & I Carlier, Alban Low & Natalie Low, Heidi McEvoy Swift, Julia Manheim and Urve Opik, Simon Tyrrell.
I am an artist and the curator for grove and groving. This blog is groving online, and records the artworks placed on the streets of Bury St Edmunds along with responses to the work by commissioned writers.