Dr. Abushady and Annie (with Fahmy) in Benson (ca.1922). Photo courtesy of David and Peggy Sidebottom, Toronto, ONT and the Abushady Archive.
Piss & Vinegar (art and ferment) is a project by Joy Garnett for FOODshed, an exhibition curated by Amy Lipton at Smack Mellon, Brooklyn, NY - June 7-July 27, 2014
Piss & Vinegar (art and ferment) is an installation of artworks and foodworks that reflect the pioneering DIY industriousness of the artist’s maternal grandparents: Egyptian poet and beekeeper Dr. Ahmed Zaky Abushady and his English wife Annie (née Bamford). As steward of their archive, Garnett produces works that reflect its compelling intertwining narratives. The installation for FOODshed at Smack Mellon includes two limited edition prints based on images drawn from the archive; a batch of Garnett’s bottled home-fermented red wine vinegar, labeled with an adaptation of Dr. Abushady’s logo; and photo-documentation of both the Abushady’s apiaries and Garnett’s own DIY vinegar-making process.
Dr. A.Z. Abushady (1892-1955) was an influential Egyptian poet and Victorian polymath who lived and worked in England and Egypt. A physician, bacteriologist, beekeeper, inventor, litterateur and publisher of an array of scientific, cross-cultural and poetry journals, Abushady was an indefatigable builder of libraries and institutions. His wife Annie was an independent-minded globetrotter and self-described freemason. She came from a family of Stalybridge cotton weavers descended from Samuel Bamford, the renowned 19th-century labor organizer and author of Passages in the Life of a Radical. Together, Annie and Zaky introduced innovations to agricultural and beekeeping practices in England (1919-1922) and in Egypt (1922-1946). As a team they were full of piss and vinegar.
In 1919, Dr. Abushady founded a bee research institute called The Apis Club in Benson, Oxfordshire, with an apiary of 600 hives, and launched a scientific journal, Bee World, which continues publication to this day. After returning to Egypt, he established its Egyptian counterpart, The Bee Kingdom League and its bilingual journal, The Bee Kingdom (Al-Mamlaka al-Nuhal), printed and headquartered in Alexandria.
A heady mix of nature poetry, political idealism and Utopian visions fueled Annie’s and Zaky’s thinking. At the apiary in Benson, they implemented principles of the 19th and early 20th century English Co-operative Movement, exporting them to Egypt when they relocated there in 1922. These are the same principles of agricultural and economic co-operation that provide the foundation for co-ops around the world today. “Piss & Vinegar” celebrates the temerity, ingenuity, and perseverance—qualities inherent to DIY undertakings—of the Abushady’s prescient implementation of standardized practices and co-operative principles in their day.
FOODshed images on Facebook
Artist homepage: https://joygarnett.com
Press clippings / related articles (PDFs):