I’m developing a heritage property, protected by Historic Monuments in France with five acres of land situated at the foot of the sacred mountain, Le Canigou, in the Pyrénées Orientales. Project Pyrenees is about opening up land for shared access integrating food grow and the arts as a cultural space that removes traditional barriers of private ownership and elitism. Many land and garden share schemes exist but sustainability is a huge issue and land access remains far too low in both urban and rural contexts. This project documents the challenges to try and contribute to how we can make sharing easier and unlock community participation in arts and culture as well as build climate change resilience. I’m a member of the National Forest Gardening Scheme and the site plan follows the principles of permaculture. One land feature I have is the lost and found orchard, long neglected it took me six years to find it and now that rejuvenation work is inspired by music legends I have had the privilege to interview, notably pioneers of Jazz; Ray Charles, Herbie Hancock, Quincy Jones, Curtis Mayfield… The now ‘Jazz Orchard’ is motivated by the Ethics of Jazz, the humanity that Herbie Hancock discusses in his Harvard University series. These pioneers succeeded against all the odds, notably deep inequality. Project Pyrenees seeks to establish a model for social justice – and have some great music in the Jazz Orchard too.
My first artist-in-residence was Craig Simpson and the impact on his wellbeing in this environment is documented in my blogs part 1 and 2:
This year, pandemic permitting, I’m looking forward to welcoming Hala Sabet as artist-in-resident, who has drawn on natural construction such as intricate bird nests in her sculptures and Egyptian heritage, reflecting Islamic symbols and geometry in her painting too. We hope to run a free workshop. http://www.halasabet.co.uk
You can see regular updates on instagram including captioned IGTV @talkinculture #projectpyrenees and on twitter too @talkinculture