A pre-Darwin author of scientific books for young people, nature stories reminiscent of David Attenborough films are set within Jane Austin style conversations. A Quaker philanthropist she started schools for girls and so much more, Priscilla Wakefield (1751- 1832).
Exploring Wakefield's stories of relationships with plants and animals are designed to entertain and to interest children, often written from the point of view of girls who would have had no access to education at this time.
The oak galls, as she explains, develop in response to insects, this young tree has the most oak galls I've seen together, there would have been more in her day. They are like the doll's heads old fashioned peg dolls, so I dressed one in the dark bonnet and cloak that she wore. Bruce Castle Museum still have her bonnet.
Wakefield's books sometimes take the form of a series of letters, between people separated pre railways and cars, when travel was slow, we too have been separated during the lockdown. The moss islands speak to me of her observation and description of the plants and the connections made by sharing observations of nature from a distance.
The other images explore: the picking of samphire and the use of shells as money, the habits and homes of beavers and of termites, habitats of swallows, goats adaptation to the eating of moss and hemlock, the structures of plants, including some fabulous abstract cross sections of buds.
Eclipse was the fastest horse in the world in the 1700s. I made his silhouette for a project for Calke Abbey Stables, National Trust a few years back. Wakefield's young women consider which is faster, the unbeaten race horse (from whom most Arab thoroughbreds are now descended) or a bird.
Wakefield was concerned to avoid all cruelty to animals, these are Quaker values, upheld throughout her work that I have read.
Wakefield was interested in art andwas well connectd enough to introduce the painter John Costable to the Royal Academy of Art when he came to London from Suffolk, where her daughter lived. The silhouette trees remind me of depictions of trees in C18th landscape paintings.
Commission from Bruce Castle Museum supported by The Art Fund.
Images courtesy of Chris jackson
Norwich Edible East art science trail July 21- March 22
- Sculptor Chris Jackson has prepared the first site for a sculpture at Hungate Art, he has fixed a sculpture support into the niche above the doorway so art can be fixed without damaging the beautiful listed building. All the wood he has used so far for his sculpture models and for these fixings has been retrieved out of skips.
- John Innes Centre is inspiring local artists with the science of food security - date change for next meeting. The historic breeding of brassicas has led to so the production many different veg, the cauliflower is an unripe bud, if I remember rightly.
- We have two retail units under discussion which we plan to use for art installations about forest gardens and microbiome gardens. These installations will use supporting structures that we are planning to use for another event, see below.
- You can now follow news at #Edible East, @jenniepedley on Instagram/Facebook or here on my blog. There are resources available for artists involved on You Tube and Facebook and soon on google drive.
Forest garden image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons, image on the right by Jennie Pedley
'Edible England' Heritage Days
- We are exploring the possibility of an Edible East Edible England four day festival/exhibition in Norwich to place the future of food in the context of the past. This will be an installation and public engagement activities to gather local stories and create dialogue. It could include a 3D, theatrical, wonderland display mixing art & horticulture.
I may be using some shadow theatre for the public to tell their own food growing/making stories.
- We will draw on local stories of food, thanks to Sophie Cabot from Hungate Art for speaking to the artists today about food and archeology.
- Gressenhall Museum shared fabulous resources on the history of food growing to inspire artists via a recorded conversation and some pdfs of searches of their databases. They started with a fabulous collection of seed packets/pockets and seed catalogues from local businesses.
- Strangers Hall will follow with a recorded chat about their food stories.
Community Forest Food Gardens
- We are now planning the first of the community forest food gardens in Norwich. See picture explaining the layers of the forest garden.