The appeal of orchards
Orchards surround us in Herefordshire, and are visually beautiful and atmospheric places. Throughout the project, we have been collecting photographs which themselves form part of the account of the orchards. Just look at these images of each of the six orchards studied in the project.
Henhope at Priors Frome
Half hide at Bishops Frome
Salt box at Garnons
Village Plum at Glewstone
Tidnor Wood near Lugwardine
We have found that local people may pay a lot of interest to an orchard on their doorstep but don't spend a lot of time considering orchards more generally and how they help to make Herefordshire such a special place. Maybe they are just taken for granted. Similarly many tourists don't seem to give them a second thought or appreciate what they are driving past.
Yet orchards and apple trees have inspired art and great writing. The imagery of the Garden of Eden springs to mind and in this year, the four hundredth anniversary of John Milton's birth, what better than this line from his epic poem Paradise Lost ;
A circuit wide, enclosed, with goodliest trees
planted, with walks, and bowers; that what I saw
of Earth before scarce pleasant seemed. Each tree,
laden with fairest fruit that hung to th'eye
tempting, stirr'd in me sudden appetite
to pluck and eat;
When things become too familiar, we tend to start taking them for granted. The eminent German writer and thinker Johann Wolfgang Goethe wrote at the beginning of the nineteenth century
“everything that has been round about us from youth, with which we are nevertheless only superficially acquainted, always seems ordinary and trivial to us, so familiar, so commonplace that we hardly give it a second thought. On the other hand, we find that new subjects, in their striking diversity, stimulate our intellects and make us realise that we are capable of pure enthusiasm; they point to something higher, something which we might be priveleged to attain.” (Natural Sciences in general, Morphology in particular, translated Mueller, 1952)
So, we wanted to find ways to encourage people to look at orchards afresh to stimulate reflection on their important role.
Working with the New Brewery Arts, we were therefore delighted that the touring exhibition Orchard by Edwina Bridgeman has hosted by Hereford Cider Museum in the autumn of 2008.
The exhibition comprised a central installation which is an orchard of three trees, aiming to recreate the feel of an orchard, distilled through Edwina's own memory and imagination, and being a space for contemplation.
Edwina's interest is in the poetry of the everyday. Some twenty-five smaller pieces mix found materials to make narrative works, and may inspire us to look at orchards again with a child-like wonder.
By looking at orchards in different ways, we hoped to stimulate attention and consideration of the beauty and value of what we are so lucky to have all about us in Herefordshire. The exhibition was really well attended and culminated in an open day when, alongside the artwork, students from Hereford College of Arts performed their own interpretation of the findings of the project and the exhibits at the Museum. The play, entitled Spirit of the Orchard was designed for family audiences and the skill of the performers and the message of the play (look after our orchards they are full of wonderful things and are part of our history - buy local produce) was appreciated by visitors of all ages.
Unusually, along with audiences at other tour locations, visitors to the Cider Museum helped to shape the developing exhibition as their recollections and reflections on orchards were collected to inspire new works by Edwina.
In association with Tidnor Wood Orchard Trust and Hereford Cider Museum, we were delighted to be sponsors of a summer orchard art competition to help us to celebrate the value of our orchards.
Here are just a few of the wonderful range of entries received, including the winners of the three age categories who are now, thanks to the generosity of Tidnor Wood Orchard Trust, sponsors of a named tree in Tidnor Wood Orchards.
It was our hope that local caring organisations would encourage their clients to participate in the exhibition and we were delighted to receive some wonderful contributions from Aspire's Tanbrook Centre, Herefordshire Headway and Echo. All of these organisations subsequently were treated to a visit to the exhibition to see their artwork in context, lunch and gifts to celebrate what had been achieved. Thanks goes to EF Bulmer Benevolent Fund for making these special visits possible.
The contributors from ECHO starring in their own smashing collage interpreting the orchard.