Sketching out the route

Documentary photographer photojournalist, Devon, Dorset, Cornwall, Somerset, Exeter, UK, abroad

Designing and sketching out the first drafts of the route have involved a series of meetings with staff from Environment Agency, contractor CH2M, Exeter City Council, Exeter College and the Wildlife Trust and have included input from local residents who I met during the research phase of the residency earlier in the year. I’ve been making site visits, researching rootstocks and varieties and going through details site plans. I’m taking into account the different uses of the site, different landownership, historical links, creating flow and linkage through the site, orientation and shade, proximity to routes and roadways (potential pollution levels), likely user groups. I’d like to consider the social aspects of the more concentrated areas of orchard planting when considering layout and design of these.

On 21 June there was an Orchard Lab day attended by 16 members of the local community. These included representatives from St Thomas in Bloom, members of Exwick community, Exwick’s Community Builder, Active Devon, Exeter City Council rangers, Devon Wildlife Trust, Devon & Cornwall House, Patient Participation Representative for St Thomas, St Thomas Community Association, Exeter Green Partnership, local ecologists, Environment Agency, local allotment holders and environmental artists. See the Orchard Lab post for more info.

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Background to FLOW

My name is Anne-Marie Culhane, I live in Exmouth and work as a socially engaged eco-artist. This means that much of my creative practice happens with people in real places and involves projects that invite people into an active and enquiring relationship with each other and the land using a range of different tools, artforms and methods.

These including events, performances and long term projects and can involve drawings, photography, installation but also involves developing new ideas and projects with sustained legacy in collaboration with people and organisations.  This work is a response to the urgency of our times which calls for a radical re-alignment of our relationship to the wider world and exploratation of different ways of working together.

wassailbowlrd

AM with wassail bowl created for a new Exeter wassail for 2016 at Exeter Community Garden, Streatham campus, Exeter University, part of a Soil Cultures residency with CCANW (Centre for Contemporary Art & the Natural World)

FLOW – Project Info.

I am working with Gingko Projects & East Devon Council, Exeter City Council and Devon Wildlife Trust on an Arts Council residency in Exeter along the River Exe in the Riverside Valley Park. This is a site of significant upheaval through the recent and ongoing flood prevention works by the Environment Agency. My brief is to draw people into the park, celebrate biodiversity and work in particular with the residents of St Thomas and Exwick. I had a busy research period from January to March investigating diatoms in the lab, walking the park with local residents with different perspectives on the site, learning more about Devon’s orchard heritage, deepening my understanding of the  carbon cycle and deciduous trees including the breating of fruit trees, meeting landscape architects and environment agency staff and connecting with the wider arts and environmental community in Exeter.

This work develops and extends themes I have explored in my work such as Abundance (urban fruit harvesting – winner Observer Ethical Award grassroots category); Fruit Routes & Orchard City Manifesto.

CULHANE:ABUNDANCE

The resulting work is that I am reconfiguring part of the Environment Agency’s planting scheme to create a ribbon orchard and foraging route along the site (around 4 km) to enhance the habitat for pollinators and foragers of all descriptions. This is a complex partnership between different communities, landowners and government agencies and there are some great people involved.

The project includes an Orchard Ideas Lab on 21 June, a day with people from local communities of Exwick & St Thomas, Wildlife Trust, Environment Agency & Exeter City Council considering the possibilities of the project and feeding in local knowledge and ideas. I’ve also created a new performance piece Running With Trees taking groups running in the site to explore the relationship between trees, breath and carbon dioxide. Dr Tom Powell, earth systems scientist has been advising on scientific aspects & I’m collaborating with Amy Shelton (Honeyscribe) to make an Orchard Box to collect and share thoughts, ideas, visions, perspectives on the project with people.

Amy and myself have visited local orchards and collected blossoms from plants that are likely to be included in the scheme. These have been pressed and made into small slides which can be viewed and illuminated in the Orchard Box. The Orchard Box is visiting the St Thomas Festival on 2 & 3 September and Exwick Harvest lunch on 24 September. The planting of the trees for FLOW will happen at a public event & celebration in January 2018.  Please contact me if you would like to find out more or get involved in any aspect.

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