Future Perfect: Orchard Engagement programme

David Thorpe, The Orchard, Hengrove, 2015. Photo © Max McClure, courtesy of Bristol City Council.


Artist David Thorpe was commissioned to contribute to the physical fabric of Hengrove in order to create a long-term legacy for the area. His work, the ‘Community Orchard’ was commissioned as part of Future Perfect, an area-wide public art programme for the Hengrove and Whitchurch Ward in South Bristol which was curated and developed by curator / commissioner team Theresa Bergne and Jes Fernie.


Developed over a period of 3 years the orchard was planted on Whitchurch Village Green, in November 2015 and is made up of 48 fruit trees which take the shape of a cathedral, complete with nave, transept and apse. Local children and residents of Hengrove were involved in the planning of the orchard, which is designed to be a communal meeting place and stems from Thorpe's interest in utopian English traditions, with particular reference to the work of William Morris. The project was launched by George Ferguson, the previous Mayor of Bristol, and Kevin McCloud of Grand Designs in tandem with the Council’s One Tree One Child project.

As part of the longer term development of the Orchard Bristol City Council has commissioned a one year orchard engagement programme led by Jane Porter. This programme is designed to raise awareness of the orchard with the Hengrove community but also to engage the wider Bristol public through a series of exciting projects that take place on the orchard site as well as at arts venues across Bristol.

The programme consists of four commissions, alongside events, trips, talks and workshops that will see artists and writers engaged to develop new projects in direct response to the orchard with a key aim of engaging Hengrove residents and the wider public in the community orchard and associated themes.

Projects will run from autumn 2016 and culminate in the summer of 2017 with a large public event in Hengrove and Whitchurch.

Further info

Find out more by visiting the Future Perfect Web site and Sign up to the e-newsletter to find out more about the artists and events, get news and updates and details of the project as they develop.

David Thorpe

David 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.

His practice has evolved from early work with photography and collage, to finely crafted large-scale installations made using an array of seemingly disparate media such as wood, hair, dung, rabbit skin, paint, light, leather and ceramics.

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.

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.

Future Perfect:

Future Perfect is an ambitious programme of public art commissions for Hengrove Ward, a residential area in south Bristol. It is commissioned by Bristol City Council and is the first public art programme to be funded through a Neighbourhood Partnership in which governance is extended to members of the Hengrove community. The programme is part of a large-scale regeneration scheme spearheaded by the Council, and funded through Section 106 monies raised to mitigate the effects of development in the Hengrove area.

The theme for the programme is the future; a notional, fantastical future which embraces extraordinary possibilities and dreams and consists of three commissions by artists with international reputations: Martino Gamper, Nils Norman and David Thorpe. All three artists have had extensive, fruitful conversations with local people, groups and schools in Hengrove throughout the process of developing their proposals. Martino Gamper’s commission, Archive of Ideas, was realised in 2012; the other two commissions were realised in 2014 and 2015. The programme also includes the publication of a book of drawings by Garth England, a long term resident of Hengrove and Knowle West. Murdered with Straight Lines: drawings of Bristol by Garth England', is edited by Jes Fernie and Theresa Bergne and was published by Redcliffe Press in spring 2015.

Future Perfect explores the transformative potential of art; how socially engaged projects can inspire as well as inform and affect the way that people view their lives, their neighbourhood and their position in their community. The commissioned artists are all interested in creating a space in which new things can happen, ideas can be expressed and the unknown can be explored. Future Perfect encompasses a range of art projects from the temporary to the permanent; all of which provide a legacy for Hengrove in some form; through improvement of infrastructure in the area, skills development and personal enrichment for residents.

A key ambition of Future Perfect is to get local people involved at all levels. The programme as a whole offers many different opportunities for individuals and groups in Hengrove to participate, through workshops, trips and talks. For further info see:

Jane Porter

Jane Porter is a Bristol based independent producer and horticulturist who has worked in leading arts venues in the city for the last 10 years such as Picture This, Watershed and Arnolfini. She programmed the project space Central-Reservation in 2010 and managed public art commissions with Ginkgo Projects in Hartcliffe and Hengrove in 2008. She gives regular exhibition tours at Arnolfini and City Museum and works as Projects Officer at Bristol City Council Culture Team.