Alive (A-Live) food event at Halstow (Here’s to Thee)
14 May 2022 at Gray’s Devon Cider, Halstow Farm, Exeter
I drew on both the conceptual and ‘experiential’ to realise this event that not only refers to the cider-making process itself but relates to the broader ‘more than human’ worlds this project touches upon, where people and microbes live symbiotically. This event takes its starting points from the farm’s rich landscape, the cider, the lyrics and paraphernalia of the wassail as its ingredients which are then carefully crafted to create a complex edible journey.
Unpasteurised cheeses L-R: Montgomery Cheddar; Stitchleton Blue; Caerphilly. You can also see a video of the Caerphilly wheel washed in Gray’s cider, decorated with nettles and wrapped in advance of the event- Caerphilly wheel3
I applied some of the terms appearing in Simon Pope’s poster Cidermaking terms in the Devonshire dialect as menu items for the event, re-imagining and transforming some of the terms into a series of food courses and tastes for guests to sample. Through my research, I have been working with Simon Pope, the farm and local food producers for guidance regarding produce and to consider its re-application within the menu. The emphasis of the menu is on the ‘liveness’ of the foods – using cultures present in unpasteurised cheese, sourdough starters and ferments alongside the tastes of apples, cider, lichen and windfallen fruit.
L-R: ‘Crumplings’ – scarified, oven roasted and scorched apples; Cultured butter; Apple skin vinegar
I also worked with ceramicist Abigail North to present hand held plates and tablewares for the event with the clay sourced on the farm itself, and using the impressions of the orchard’s trees to create platters of beautiful textural surfaces.
Food is passed in a convivial nature from guest to guest, sharing bread as a symbol of companionship and resonating with the traditional passing of the wassail bowl. Having eaten together the guests will be invited to feed the ‘more than human’ life on Gray’s Farm, using fire and burial we will feed into the diversity of the soil, the trees, the lichen, the air.
L-R: Palm plate prototype, using bark as pattern; palm plates made of Halstow clay (remained unfired); Red devon clay platters pattered with Halstow Farm’s apple tree bark
Event Programme/Menu available as A3 MENU for printing
(*) HERE’S TO THEE is a project by artist Simon Pope, in collaboration with anthropologist Professor Harry G. West and the Centre for Rural Policy Research at the University of Exeter. This project explores the microbiopolitics, microbiosocialities and ‘more-than-human’ social worlds of cider-making through wassailing and other forms of collective artistic work. I was one of the collective of artists and researchers joining the project to produce a range of things, including songs, ceramics, films and genomic data.
The project was commissioned by Arts & Culture at the University of Exeter and The Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery (RAMM) in Exeter, (Devon, England). Supported by Arts Council.