Date: 2015 - ongoing
“What’s that blue crop growing in your field?”
This is a proposal to reignite a productive landscape across 70 square miles of the English countryside.
We have always been tied to agriculture – the fact that our words ‘culture’ and ‘cultivate’ share the same stem tells its own story. However it’s becoming increasingly difficult for farmers, so if we’re not going to grow food in our countryside, what exactly are we going to do with it? What are the cultural and political forces tugging at our hedgerows?
One of these forces is the preservation of landscapes. The criteria for an AONB is simply ‘beauty’ itself, a subjective decision made by Natural England – yet how are they positioned to tell us what is beautiful or not? In order to be relevant, we have to change the way we work with our landscape. The project proposes a new use: agriculture to new ends, that of culture.
Situated in the North Wessex Downs AONB – a dramatic landscape of open fields and rolling hills – the project proposes the cultivation and curation of flax fibre. Flax fibre is the raw material used to make linen – it’s chosen as an agent for culture, for its beautiful qualities both as a crop and material to be used. Its cultivation will re-identify the landscape as a locally characteristic cycle of production, marked every July by colourful fields of blue.
The design of the landscape and the structures within it have been driven by the processes needed to cultivate the material, to enhance it visually and experientially - it is a continuous negotiation between production and culture.