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Thursday, 23 October 2014 10:50

Salford old mill's urban food project founder gets creative award

A pioneering local student, Vincent Walsh, who has transformed an old Salford mill warehouse into a Biospheric local communty food growing and research centre, has received a prestigious creativity award from CIWEM.

biosphericproject-ladVincent Walsh established the Biospheric Foundation, a Socio Ecological Urban Research Practice in Blackfriars, East Salford in 2013. Situated on the banks of the River Irwell, close to Manchester's city centre, this internationally acclaimed whole-systems intensive urban farm also provides a research centre for the Universities of Salford, Durham, Dublin and Newcastle.

The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) in association with the Centre for Contemporary Art and the Natural World (CCANW) have bestowed the 2014 Nick Reeves AWEinspiring Award for Arts, Water and the Environment to Vincent for his ambitious work in establishing the Biospheric Foundation.

The Nick Reeves AWEinspiring Award is awarded annually and celebrates an artwork, arts project or body of work that has contributed innovatively to CIWEM's vision of "putting creativity at the heart of environmental policy and action". The 2014 judging panel consisted of five judges, including the 2013 winner, Paltform.

biosphericproject6The Foundation has attracted funding from a host of organisations, as well as being awarded the People's Postcode Lottery Fund in 2013, and 'Green Champion' Green Apple Award 2014. It now employs 6 staff and coordinates 50 core volunteers. As well as hosting local community educational workshops, the foundation has a whole-food shop, "whole-box" distribution service and provides a centre for Salford City Council/Salford University's Sustainable Urban Strategy.

The Biospheric Foundation also maintains a radical voice for social and environmental justice, by addressing the implications of Climate Change in urban living. The Award panel were particularly impressed by how Vincent had succeeded in integrating organic production and social systems, and by the Foundation's varied levels of engagement, which range from local communities to business interests, and provide an inspirational model for other projects in this country and abroad.

biosphericproject5Dave Pritchard, Chair of CIWEM's Arts and Environment Network, said: "This is a perfect example of the way artists today make a difference in the environmental sphere - not by making commercial objects or decorating the landscape, but by catalysing new forms of transformational action in society".

Vincent Walsh, Chief Executive of the Biospheric Foundation said: "The Biospheric Foundation is extremely proud to be nominated for this award, it highlights the importance of geographically positioning critical action led socio ecological research in the heart of communities and what can be learnt from such a unique platform".

Special Commendations are being awarded to Amy Sharrocks for her work "Museum of Water" and to Francesca Moore for "Bhopal Facing 30". "Bhopal Facing 30" is a response by photographer Francesca Moore to the on-going disaster situation in Bhopal, India, thirty years after a gas tragedy which killed an estimated 10,000 people. "Museum of Water" is a collection of publicly donated water and accompanying stories, accumulated over two years in different sites worldwide by live artist, sculptor and film maker Amy Sharrocks.

LINKS
The AWEinspiring Award
The Biospheric Foundation
Amy Sharrocks - Museum of Water
Francesca Moore - Bhopal Facing 30

A video of The Biospheric Foundation featured on BBC's North West Tonight can be seen below