Home » Events » Online Event | Rough Trade In-Conversations | Claire Ratinon, Sam Ayre and Zakiya Mckenzie

Online Event | Rough Trade In-Conversations | Claire Ratinon, Sam Ayre and Zakiya Mckenzie

We are pleased to offer this event as part of our online Public Programme

The first of two in-conversation events is with authors Claire Ratinon, Sam Ayre and Zakiya Mckenzie, chaired by Sui Searle. This conversation will explore the necessity and urgency of bringing a decolonial lens to the practice of horticulture – from the stories we tell about it to the language we use within it, how that shapes us as growers and gardeners and the dialogue around the gardens and land we grow in.

The idea of ‘the garden’ is a complicated, curious thing. They loom large in the imagination—a locus of desire, aspiration, colonisation, care, effort, property, land and ownership, loss and literature. Rough Trade have created a set of pamphlets, with design inspired by Elphick’s seed catalogues from the Garden Museum Collection, that examine all of these ideas and more, with a group of writers and gardeners generating new work inspired in some way by our notions of all things green and pleasant, or perhaps less so. Has there ever been so much rich thought around the radical potential of gardening, with so much urgency surrounding how we maintain our little bits of earth, of the meaning that plants carry.

Horticultural Appropriation is a conversation between an organic food grower and an artist about the possibility and necessity of bringing a decolonial lens to the practice of horticulture. Taking place within West Dean College of Arts and Conservation, the exchange explores how attempts to decolonise collections and spaces currently happening in arts and cultural institutions might inform the interrogation of the colonial history at the heart of Britain’s gardens and gardening.

Testimonies on The History of Jamaica Vol.1: Or a General Survey on Things That Have Been Said About The Ancient and Modern State of That Island. English historian Edward Long became infamous for his 18th century polemic titled The History of Jamaica, a collection published in three volumes starting in 1774. Coming from one of the longest standing colonial familes established in Jamaica, Long’s books are riddled with justifications for exploiting slave labour and extracting value from plantations. Testimonies on the History of Jamaica is a piece of historical fiction exploring some of the environmental implications of Europe’s bloody venture into the ‘New World’. Set in Jamaica but speaking to all the Caribbean, the story follows what happened to land and native people when the Spaniards occupied, when the British invaded in 1655 and when the indigenous knowledge was removed from the island.


  • Claire Ratinon

    Claire Ratinon

    Claire Ratinon is an organic food grower and writer based in East Sussex. Claire has grown edible plants in a variety of roles from growing organic vegetables for the Ottolenghi restaurant, Rovi to delivering growing workshops throughout London to audiences including primary schools, community centres and corporate clients. She has been invited to share her growing journey and experiences in talks and workshops for organisations including The Garden Museum, the Royal College of Art and West Dean College of Arts and Conservation as well as having presented features for Radio 4’s Gardeners’ Question Time. Her writing has been featured in the New Statesman, Bloom Magazine and The Modern House Journal and her first book, How To Grow Your Dinner Without Leaving The House (Laurence King) is out now. @claireratinon

  • Sam Ayre

    Sam Ayre

    Sam Ayre is an artist, educator and musician based in East Sussex. Sam specialises in socially-engaged projects that focuses on opinions, society, pedagogy and ideas of legitimacy surrounding art, culture and history. Much of his work is project based, engaging groups of people in exploring their opinions, ideas and emotions. He has run participatory projects for Whitechapel Gallery, Tate Modern, Turner Contemporary, De La Warr Pavilion and Art Night London amongst others. He makes paintings, drawings and performances in his studio practice which compliment and supports all aspects of the participatory projects. He is a massive fan of flawed perspectives, conviviality and tangents. @samsamayre

  • Zakiya McKenzie

    Zakiya McKenzie

    Zakiya Mckenzie was born in South London, raised in Kingston and now lives in the southwest of England. In 2019 she was Writer in Residence for Forestry England and, at Ujima 98FM in Bristol, she was a Black and Green Ambassador in 2017. Zakiya is a PhD candidate at the University of Exeter with the Caribbean Literary Heritage project researching Black British journalism in the post-war period.

  • Sui Searle

    Sui Searle

    Sui Searle is a trained gardener with a degree in Horticulture and has worked in botanic, public and private gardens as well as having spent a short period writing for gardening magazines. She started @decolonisethegarden on Instagram in the summer of 2020. It was born out of a realisation that there was an urgent need to counter the harmful, exclusive, white-centric narrative within the horticultural industry. It aims to prompt gardeners to interrogate their biases, question where their messaging comes from and to be alert to how language, narratives and visual messaging can perpetuate and feed racism.