Ridges & Furrows
An artist in residence for NK Arts Partnership
Ridges & Furrows is an ambitious arts project that explores and celebrates the history and heritage of four towns and villages in North Kesteven, Lincolnshire – North Hykeham, Waddington, Sleaford and Welbourn. The first phase saw five artists researching the history of these locations and engaging with residents, to gauge their interest in and ideas for a new multi-arts festival in 2016.
I was selected for Welbourn, a small rural village south of Lincoln. I was fascinated by the open views onto the surrounding fields, which provide a strong link to the importance of farming to the village, both now and in the past. I began focusing on Welbourn’s agricultural history and how the land is worked today to either produce food or raise livestock, on farms, small holdings, the allotment and community orchard, and private gardens.
My initial research took place in the County Archives and Lincoln Central Library, in order to build a starting point for community engagement. I met many residents and local farmers in their homes, held a series of meet the artist sessions in public locations in the village, delivered workshops at the primary and secondary schools, had a ‘stall’ at the village fete and presented findings from my residency at a sharing event in the village hall.
Following the success of a Heritage Lottery bid, NK Arts Partnership and myself, in the role of lead artist, began working with the local community to develop the Welbourn Horkey, a celebration of harvest and traditional rural life, which took place on the 21st and 22nd October 2016. Leading up to the event I delivered a range of workshops for the primary and secondary schools, and the local community, which allowed participants to create artworks in response to Welbourn’s rich agricultural heritage. The artworks were shown at a variety of locations throughout the village, together with Fertile Ground, my own homage to Welbourn’s history, which was installed in St Chads Church. There were also displays and demonstrations of vintage farming machinery and tools, bread baking and apple-juice tasting, and competitions for baking and creative makes.
Fertile Ground comprises 14 individual artworks, each suspended inside a circular frame, echoing the cyclical nature of agriculture. The colour palette of gold, silver and bronze has been used to reference the ‘golden age’ of agriculture in Britain, which occurred in the 1850s and 1860s. Each sculptural component references the harvest in some way; seeds and their resulting grain, the chickens from Robert and Mary Close’s smallholding, the sheep grazing across from the Post Office, and the pigs that were once prevalent around the village. The suspended images, which have been printed onto clear acrylic, showcase historical photographs from the Burtt family, the Welbourn branch of the Lincolnshire Co-Operative Society, which opened in 1878, and illustrations from local trade directories: a blacksmith’s forge, a plough and seed drill, and potatoes. Fertile Ground was also exhibited in 2017 at the National Centre for Craft & Design, Sleaford, Lincolnshire.
NK Arts Partnership brings together five organisations – artsNK, The Terry O’Toole Theatre, The National Centre for Craft & Design, Design-Nation and Design Factory. For further information please visit