Make Your Own Culture

Make Your Own Culture: ongoing conversations >>

Avondale Community Centre, Saturday morning. Making sauerkraut in community.
An extension of the Freedom Cabbage project, Make Your Own Culture is a demonstration/workshop/talk incorporating the making and meaning of salted cabbage.



Avondale Community Action: Fermenting Vegetables Workshop, 7 May 2016
[This workshop is booked out now, but you can go on the waitlist… or get in touch if you are interested in hosting a fermenting workshop]

– cabbage
– salt
– knife and/or grater
– chopping board
– bowl
– 1 litre glass jar with lid
– a teatowel or two

Tree Support

Harbourview Sculpture Trail
Te Atatu Peninsula
5 – 28 March 2016

Harbourview Sculpture Trail: Artwork 42 >>
Harbourview Sculpture Trail: Featured Artist >>
Visual Arts at AUT >>

Philippa Nielsen - Tree Support

Materials: guy ropes, pegs

Tree Support is a playful collaboration with the landscape, an inquiry into the ways humans attempt to converse with other living beings. I want to consider the comic possibility that we aren’t an entirely necessary part of nature, while at the same time remaining hopeful that we can learn to collaborate more usefully with our planet.

“Trees are primary life-givers and bring benefit to the planet in every cell of their bodies. Being rooted, they interconnect with life in a very different way from ourselves, holding atmosphere and weather patterns together, supporting soil, bringing rain, providing home and shelter for animals and insects. They are the planet’s great alchemists, converting direct sunlight and minerals into breath and food for all creatures.”
– Charlotte Du Cann, 52 Flowers That Shook My World: A Radical Return to Earth

Freedom Cabbage

RM Gallery:
Project @ RM: 20 May – 6 June 2015 >>


To ferment your own food is to lodge a small but eloquent protest – on behalf of the senses and the microbes – against the homogenization of flavors and food experiences now rolling like a great, undifferentiated lawn across the globe. It is also a declaration of independence from an economy that would much prefer we remain passive consumers of its standardized commodities, rather than creators of idiosyncratic products expressive of ourselves and of the places where we live, because your pale ale or sourdough bread or kimchi is going to taste nothing like mine or anyone else’s.
– Michael Pollen, Cooked (p415)


I have become quite political about cabbage. Mostly salted cabbage, packed into a jar and left on the bench for a few weeks. The process is the beginning of the breakdown into rot, the vegetable’s return to humus, and this process is so creative. B vitamins are made, anti-nutrients made benign, bacterial communities thrive and are overtaken in cultural successions. Like an invisible forest, species establish themselves and lay the foundations for the next.

In my fractal universe, the war we have been waging in the microcosmos (antibiotics everywhere) is symptomatic of our inability to just get along. My political path has taken me from dancing in the streets to permaculture gardening to the consumption of cultures as an act of reintegration, rebellion against the industrial processes that want to dominate my life.

Everything is everywhere. So says Sister Noella, mistress maker of cheese. All the bacteria are available to us, it’s a matter of environment. Terroir. The sourdough starter I am making on top of my fridge is the sourdough starter of my home, and the particular bacterial ecology I create is my specific relationship to my environment. Acting local.

Exhibition poster donated to the community

If we count the cells in our bodies, the vast majority of them are not human. We are hybrid creatures, in symbiotic relationship with microscopic organisms. These organisms have an intelligence and skill in managing our relationship with our living environment that we have been underestimating lately. It seems that biodiversity is the key to the health of any environment, at every scale.

Sauerkraut from Philippa Nielsen on Vimeo.

Making Culture at RM
Making Culture at RM: Workshop 30 May 2015
CO2 production
CO2 production