FLOW orchard on the exe is the culmination of a year-long project as artist in residence in the Riverside Valley park commissioned by Gingko Projects & East Devon District Council in partnership with Exeter City Council in 2017. The park forms the spine of Exeter running along the River Exe. The residency coincided with the re-landscaping of the park following substantial flood and engineering works. The brief was to create connection throughout the site, celebrate biodiversity and work with the neighbouring communities of St Thomas and Exwick. The research period took place on site and in science labs: walking the park with local residents with different perspectives on the site; learning more about Devon’s orchard heritage and deepening my understanding of the connection between carbon dioxide, climate change and deciduous trees.
FLOW is a ribbon orchard of 193 trees along the site (around 5 km) many planted by local people. Flow design took into account: local knowledge; different land ownership; historical links; orientation and shade; proximity to roadways; the more-than human residents of the site; potential pollution levels; likely user groups; flooding and climate change. FLOW involved close and patient work with a complex partnership of different communities, landowners and government agencies.
FLOW project activities included:
Creative Orchard Lab – a curated day walking the route with people from local communities of Exwick & St Thomas; the Wildlife Trust; Environment Agency & Exeter City Council visioning together the possibilities of the project and contributing to the design.
Running With Trees – a running performance for local runners exploring the relationship between trees, breath, carbon dioxide and climate change working with Dr.Tom Powell as adviser. Running with Trees has subsequently been performed at Timber Festival, National Forest and Gaia Festival, University of Exeter (see performances)
Orchard Box – a portable artwork made in collaboration with Amy Shelton (Honeyscribe) containing an orchard diorama and a collection of pressed apple blossoms made into slides which are viewed and illuminated.
Welcoming the Trees – a two-day festival of planting and celebration with over 130 people planting trees and over 250 people welcoming the trees in song and celebration. I collaborated with Emma Welton, composer from Exwick to create the Exeter Wassail and commissioned storyteller, Heather Jane created a new story for FLOW and we asked : How do we welcome the trees into the community of this place?
Follow up work to the residency includes commissioning James Bond, wood sculptor to make a FLOW bench and three insect home sculptures to mark key points on the route.
People in Exeter continue to care for and celebrate the route as it grows through the Orchard Guardians scheme and putting on seasonal creative public events including the annual Wassail every January. Flow is a volunteer-led community interest company (CIC). You can find out lots more here and get involved: https://floworchardexeter.uk/.