I have worked collaboratively with three other artists Mark Sidney Evans, Abi Goodman and Kate Learmouth since 2007 as Farrago. We set up as co-operative limited by guarentee in 2008 and created and exhibited 3 installations. We closed down our co-operative in 2015.
Pollination: Heritage 2007 a spotlight on Beeley’s lesser known heritage Waggle Dance installation Sept 2007,Heritage Weekend, Beeley, Derbyshire. Also displayed 24.9.11, Field to Feast, Manor Oaks Farm, and 3.7.11, Sheffield Flower Festival, Manor Lodge, Sheffield
Ostara: Sense of Place 2008
Ostara : Sense of Place celebrates the pagan festival of Ostara, which occurs on the vernal equinox marking the beginning of Spring (on or around the 21st March) – it is a festival of fire and fertility celebrating the return of the Sun.
Enticed by the festival’s customs and rituals that embrace the natural world and the change of seasons, Farrago put its own interpretation on these celebrations.
Beeley played an important part in Farrago’s work, having a gravitational pull on the group and it was in the village the customs were enacted.
Beeley’s rural location and proximity to nature allows for a physical and emotional experience of the passing seasons and a marking of time, and a chance to connect with place.
Chants are an important ritual of pagan festivals, in particular Ostara. Farrago composed a chant marking the renewal and rebirth of the year, celebrating the new life surrounding us in nature.
The egg is a prime symbol of Ostara – a symbol of fertility, life and spiritual hopes. Farrago painted eggs celebrating the colours of the season and then hung them branches over the brook in Beeley.
The hare is the Ostara animal, another marker of fertility. The hare has had its place in folklore across the world for centuries. Anglo-Saxon’s believed the hare of the goddess Eostre’s (from whom Ostara takes its name) laid the egg of new life. The hare’s notoriety in traditions and folklore has also earned it many names.
Using old wood from a Beeley apple tree and hay from Fallinge, Farrago built a hare and then took him on a journey around the village.
Ostara is a time when light and dark are equal and a time of new fire, representing the warmth and energy of the Spring Sun. Flames, torches and bonfires were often a focal point of the Ostara customs.
As a time of equilibrium, Ostara is also often seen as time to banish and cleanse. Farrago ‘sacrificed’ its hare, burning it to cleanse the past year and allow for rebirth.
Farrago, September 2008
Merrythought: the source of luck and wishes
Merrythought is the old English name for the wishbone dating back to the early 17th century, marking the custom of two people taking hold of either side of the bone and pulling it until it breaks. The person with the largest piece gets to make a wish.
An unbroken Merrythought symbolises the promise of luck. And in fact, some older Etruscan customs from 2,400 years ago don’t break the wishbone at all. Instead it is left to dry and people are free to stroke the Merrythought to bring them luck.
Early 20th Century cards and Christmas cards often depict the wishbone as an emblem of luck.
No animals have been harmed in the collection of these Merrythoughts.
The concept of a vegetarian wishbone evolved into the discovery of a variety of Merrythoughts. This in turn led us to the Linnaeus Latin naming system, where we classified Merrythoughts into different species. Our thoughts then took us from the idea of capturing the Merrythoughts onto exploring the power of displaying collections in the traditional entomological manner. Here the viewer is presented with the temptation of “look but don’t or can’t touch”.
We have given the viewer three choices in our collection:
- They can succumb to temptation and snap their own Merrythought and make a wish
- They can stroke their own Merrythought to bring themselves luck
- They can keep a sample of Merrythought in perfect and pristine condition to admire
- They can be the proud owners of the entire species of Merrythoughts