The Grove is a site-specific mural in a vegetarian restaurant in Limerick that bears the same name. It was a commission for the 40th EVA International, Ireland’s Biennial, curated by Sebsatian Cichocki.
Owned by mother and daughter – Kate Whelan and Sue Hassett – The Grove started life as one of the first health food shops in Limerick forty years ago, and evolved into a restaurant that remains the only meat-free eatery in the city. Navine G. Dossos paints the inside of this space using motifs drawn from the local edible flora of the region, focussing on plants that have long been part of Ancient Irish foodways, as well as still being still freely available today to anyone out foraging in the landscape.
Inspired by the work of Joanna Macy and the Deep ecology movement, the environment envelops the vier/diner in an experience of the generosity and resilience of nature, despite the climate crisis we all face today. In collaboration with the botanist Sylvia Reynolds, Dossos chose a number of plants that have existed in the area of Limerick for thousands of years, and can still be found growing wild in woodlands but also next to motorways, in scrubland, bulldozed industrial lanscapes and walking paths around the city.
Hazel nuts, wild cherries, hops, fat hen, wild garlic and nettles are just a few of the plants depicted, and the work extends from the walls onto ceramics and watercolour paintings at each table. Intertwined among the flora are various political, cultural and prosaic symbols that relate to the contemporary language of choosing to be meat-free.
Dossos also recreated an image of the Dandelion by Dori Midnight that was a gift for Joanna Macy. It shows the basic premise of the work that reconnects and is an important diagram of the thinking behind a lot of Dossos’ practice. It also features a plant that can be found in Limerick and therefore has a place amongst the flora represented in the space.
Sylvia reynolds provided the generous gift of a set of dried specimens of the flora described in the mural at The Grove. These have been used to create a herbarium around the central window of the restaurant, connecting the paintings to the world outside.