Feral Studio – Orchard Works Residency, Wiveliscombe, Somerset, January 2015
In late July we would visit an apple tree down by the river Lea, perched precariously on the other side of a bit of collapsed wall. We climbed into its branches to gather its fruit looked on by Olympic park security and dog walkers. I had moved to Hackney Wick just as the blue Olympic fence was being erected, a sign of the imminent regeneration. This urban wilding was probably a result of a discarded core, an anomaly in a post-industrial landscape. I grew up in the West Country and like the found fragment of 16mm film, depicting a man picking apples in an orchard, the tree in Hackney Wick was a reminder of the region to which I felt I belonged. Sadly one day I past the spot and saw that the tree had been grubbed up and replaced by approved flora.
I was particularly interested in the idea of grafting representing a perpetuation or preservation of specific unique qualities. Orchards play a part in the cultural identity of the region of Somerset, and grafting as a very direct intervention in natural processes is the way this is reinforced, both physically and culturally. This idea of Somerset works on a shared cultural memory; newer memories are grafted onto older rootstock.
fragment of 16mm film of an orchard
Drawings of graft unions (the point at which the stock and scion become one) completed during resident at Feral Studio.
Note. Ceramic works are in development, using the techniques, motives and material qualities of the union between scion and rootstock. While resident in Somerset, I dug local red clay and gathered ash from a wassailing bonfire at Charlton Orchard and will incorporate these into a ceramic response.