David Thorpe's community orchard gets the go ahead
On Wednesday 18 June, Ward Councillors in the Stockwood, Hengrove and Whitchurch Neighbourhood Partnership voted for artist David Thorpe’s community orchard and accompanying training and events programme to go ahead.
The project is part of Future Perfect, an ambitious public art programme for Hengrove, and has been in development with local residents for the past year. Thorpe’s design for the orchard includes the planting of a range of fruit and nut trees in a cathedral arrangement on a site offered by the Severn Project adjacent to ASDA Whitchurch. This structure will provide food in abundance as well as a grand meeting place for the community for years to come.
The orchard project will include long term involvement from the Horticultural Department at South Bristol Skills Academy, allowing students to develop skills and receive training in growing, fertilisation, cross-pollination and tree shaping, within a unique, local environment. TreePips, a Bristol City Council tree planting initiative for primary schools, will work with local children in Hengrove to learn about planting, growing and harvesting. The Future Perfect team is also delighted that Thorpe’s art project will be included in next year’s Bristol Green Capital programme.
The next steps will be to bring together a ‘friends of the orchard’ group to be involved in the planting and growing from the outset, and to continue to maintain, harvest and take ownership of the orchard. A community event is being planned for early September where local residents of all ages are invited to come and visit the site and learn more about opportunities to get involved.
Hengrove resident John Button, and member of the Future Perfect Art Steering group, have been involved from the outset of Future Perfect and helped to select the artist. Along with the rest of the steering group and Future Perfect team, he is delighted that the project has been approved and urges local residents to get involved:
David Thorpe has come up with an innovative and original project that will stimulate interest, comment and pleasure to our community. The participation of local schools and the Skills Academy in this work is encouraging and hopefully will have the knock-on effect of parents becoming involved and therefore spreading interest throughout the Hengrove ward." – John Button, Hengrove resident.
Local residents can express their interest in getting involved with the project by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
For further press information, images and interview requests, please contact Leela Clarke, Future Perfect Marketing Manager, on 07855898117 email@example.com or Peter Wood PR and Media Officer, Bristol City Council, 0117 922 2651 firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to editors
Future Perfect began in January 2012 and will reach a conclusion in 2014, curated and developed by curator/commissioner team Theresa Bergne and Jes Fernie. This public art programme began with the development of a public art strategy for the area, which was written in consultation with the local community, and adopted by the Neighbourhood Partnership. The strategy document contains an ethos for developing public art in the area, and in the form of a project for ‘green spaces’, a ‘permanent work’ and ‘temporary commission’. Following a process of artist long-listing and interview, Martino Gamper, Nils Norman and David Thorpe were appointed to develop art work ideas for the area.
A key aim of Future Perfect is to get local people involved at all levels of decision making and project development. An Art Steering Group made up of representatives of local organisations and groups was established at the outset to make recommendations to the Neighbourhood Partnership about how the public art monies are spent, which artists were selected and how the programme is run. The theme for the programme is the future; a notional, fantastical future which embraces extraordinary possibilities and dreams.
The Future Perfect team has also worked heavily on engagement and education activities in the area, and held workshops and talks at schools, scout groups and afterschool clubs telling people about the project, finding out what they feel about living in Hengrove and how they see their future panning out. They have also been involved with various local events and discussed possible involvement with a broad range of organisations including schools, libraries, community centres and volunteer groups.
Thorpe is a British artist currently based in Berlin. He is interested in the democratisation of art as expressed by William Morris and John Ruskin through the Arts & Crafts Movement of the late 19th century. His exquisite sculptures, made through intensive hand-made processes by skilled crafts-people as well as himself, are a reflection on labour as well as artistic production. He creates strange sealed-off worlds where the natural and the artificial, the real and the fictional, New-Age and Space-Age fuse. Thorpe has said in the past that he is continually in search of new ways of creating his own world and in much of his work there is a visceral sense of a fictional wilderness in the making. Thorpe’s commitment to craftsmanship as well as his complex interest in the relationship of aesthetics to beauty was a perfect fit within the context of the Permanent Commission for Hengrove.
Thorpe’s work features in public and private collections in the UK, Japan and the US. He is represented by Casey Kaplan in New York, Meyer Riegger in Berlin and Maureen Paley in London. Recent exhibitions include those at The Hepworth Wakefield, Camden Arts Centre, Zabludowicz Collection and Simon Oldfield Gallery in London as well as the Santa Barbara Museum of Art and the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art in California.
Future Perfect has been curated by art consultants Theresa Bergne (Field Art Projects), and Jes Fernie for Bristol City Council’s Public Art Unit within City Design Group, in partnership with the Stockwood, Hengrove and Whitchurch Neighbourhood Partnership. It is the first programme of works to be developed through a Neighbourhood Partnership in Bristol.
The Severn Project
A social enterprise producing and supplying high quality produce across Bristol and beyond. The Severn Project is a sustainable business that was started in 2010, using the production of food as a vehicle to provide education training and employment for socially excluded individuals.
Future Perfect is funded using Section 106 funds (S106) for public art, secured from the development of South Bristol Community Hospital, Bristol Skills Academy and Hengrove Park Leisure Centre, plus funding from Bristol City Council.
Bristol's Public Art Programme
Bristol is one of the UK’s key cities for public art commissioning, with an impressive track record of public realm works developed over the last 10 years. Bristol’s Public Art Policy demonstrates the council’s commitment to the development of public art across the city. The policy aims to encourage the commissioning of art works by artists in the public realm with a range of public and private sector partners and developers.
For further information on Bristol’s Public Art Programme see www.aprb.co.uk