Fields of Knowing



First, know food
From food
All things are born
By food they live
Toward food they move
And into food they return

~~ Upanishads


How do we come to know food?

Our visual poetic has emerged over a three-day collaborative process in response to The Learned Pig’s current theme of Fields. Marloe Mens’ call for submissions inspires a returning to the source of our food and to the shining of a light on the wider relationships we inhabit through and with food. The above verse from the Upanishads is an ancient Sanskrit teaching that brings to consciousness the nature of the living food cycle and its wider principles of renewal and regeneration. To be inhabiting this simple and profound wisdom inspires a dedication to an ecological diet where we become active agents in shaping food cultures, enlivening multispecies habitats, and stimulating local economies.

Touchstones Earth, our ecological arts practice, is grounded in natureculture worldmaking that encourages an everyday ethics of healing and care. All the images are drawn from our own photographs which document the hands-on activities, rituals and experiences which we inhabit as a way of life. The aesthetic is a sympoietic expression, a making-with, a thinking-with and through the encounters of tending to home, kitchen, studio, garden, and farmfields – art of the everyday participation in life. This improvised approach to materials, substances, processes, the genius loci, and the digital medium are all enlivened by respecting the serendipitous, intuitive, relational impulses. Together these are the ground for cultivating radical trust to embrace the unknown, appreciate the emergent and invite in mystery.

These living practices seek to restore health to the life of soil, water, plant and animal, and to our own human flourishing.

Our contribution Fields of Knowing shares a vital, visceral and embodied existence based on noticing, attending to and experiencing the revitalising rhythms and biological processes which grow life. This is kitchen culture meeting agriculture, with art and ritual being at the heart of our practices with the dynamic, interconnected flow of the universe. Here, we are in a continuous and transformative interplay between matter, metaphor and meaning. Art as culture-making attends to an evolutionary purpose. The principles embedded within the artworks FIRST, KNOW FOOD cultivate and restore the diverse experiences of ‘conviviality’, and reconnect us to the origins of the word, con vivere, to live well together and in balance. We are of nature and our well-being is intimately entangled with the well-being of the other-than-human world. Thus, we are called into a response-ability for living with respect, love and in peace on planet Earth.

Fields of Knowing, through its words and images, is a sensuous and poetic provocation to discover how we might come to know food. The thoughtpictures FIRST, KNOW FOOD are visual essences of moments in an artisan day. These living practices seek to restore health to the life of soil, water, plant and animal, and to our own human flourishing. The images and captions are resonances, riffs and rememberings offered to nurture body, soul and imagination during these our Earth days.


First, Know Food

FIRST, KNOW FOOD 1: Egg shells collected for soil and plant care; making mayonnaise by hand; mycorrhizal drawing


From Food

FIRST, KNOW FOOD 2: Seedlings of organic food plants in fibre pots; vinaigrette intermingling with vegetable jus on a plate; ink and paper


All Things Are Born

FIRST, KNOW FOOD 3: Horehound leaves to brew for respiratory health; gold thread, painted marks and brown paper gestures


By Food They Live

FIRST, KNOW FOOD 4: Wind, washing line with kitchen cloths; ink drawing; sourdough leaven bowl, cloth and utensils


Toward Food They Move

FIRST, KNOW FOOD 5: Fired earth bowl with spatula; blood, nettle, ground alder, plantain, grass and soil


And Into Food They Return

FIRST, KNOW FOOD 6: Glass jar, monocultured soil clods, gold intervention; fermented food compost; studio scriptings


The artworks FIRST, KNOW FOOD originate in response to an invitation from The Learned Pig. If you would like to purchase a limited edition of the photographic print(s), please be in touch with Miche and Flora at

This is part of FIELDS, a section of The Learned Pig devoted to exploring fields as natural and (agri)cultural, invisible and visible, poor and productive, created and creators. FIELDS is conceived and edited by Marloe Mens.


The Learned Pig



Touchstones was founded in 2010 and is a collaboration between Dr Miche Fabre Lewin (BA; Dip. Art Therapy; PhD) and Dr Flora Gathorne-Hardy (BA; Dip. LA; PhD). As two women artists and researchers, they are dedicated to enlivening cultural and ecological diversity through socially-engaged arts.

They are long-term Artist Researchers with the Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience (CAWR) at Coventry University, UK; the Sustainability Institute, Stellenbosch, South Africa; the Centre for Contemporary Art and the Natural World (CCANW); and the Centre for Future Thinking at Hawkwood, UK. They are members of the postgraduate teaching faculty with Crossfields International and Members of Art.Earth.