What strength of character it must have taken to work the line in a factory of the 1940s. Here, the humble pea, in not-so-humble numbers, is sorted with dexterity and evident grit by women at Dobson’s Frozen Food in Marlborough. While the nostalgic view of the time is of growing vegetables in the fresh air in quarter-acre suburbia, fresh-minted technologies meant convenience foods were on the rise. Post-war, women made up the bulk of the labour force that lined up on conveyor belts to bring products, such as the ever-popular frozen pea, to the Kiwi table. While it got them out of the kitchen, they hadn’t moved far.



A snapshot memory from Ann Shelton’s childhood: gathering peas with her grandmother, youth and wisdom stooped on the fringes of a South Canterbury field, hand-plucking pods that escaped the farmer’s scythe. Such a visceral connection with the harvest is now rare among city-folk, which inspired the artist to explore food sustainability, security and ethics in an eco-exhibition. This photograph, The Green Vein, is an offshoot of that, a still taken from a performance rehearsal. The concept visually embodies the microbial processes of growth to inspire a reconnection with the technology of nature. “Nature has a set of workings and mechanisms that operate effectively,” says Ann. “Nature and technology are not diametrically opposed.” Fruit and vegetables depicted in art is nothing new, but this performance cleaves it from the traditional still life. Although we may have forgotten our roots, it’s temporary. To dirt we will return. CLAIRE McCALL