My second week as an intern for the Ridges & Furrows project started off with painting posters promoting the community art workshops run by our resident artists. It marked a nice turn of pace from the frantic first week as I was able to do it in my living room. It was also a big role reversal in our house as I was doing arts and crafts and my girlfriend, who had previously done a textile degree, was reading history! I then had to go out and collect some A-boards from one of our contacts in the village and put them up in the entrances and exits to the village.
The first workshop was led by jeweller Miranda Sharpe; she taught all the attendees how to do enamelling. It was aimed at an adult audience and involved use of a small portable kiln. It was great to see the themes from the historical research used in such imaginative ways to make patterns on the metal. Here are some examples of what was made:
The second workshop was a family workshop led by artist Lyndall Phelps which aimed to create a stage-like set of the old Co-operative shop which used to run in the village. The Welbourn branch was the first rural branch of the Co-operative family and opened in the 1840s. The workshop saw a great attendance with families staying for the whole day to create whole hampers of artwork.
During this week I met all the local volunteers involved in the steering group meeting for Welbourn; the meeting brought together the project leads from artsNK, the historian, artists and numerous locals from the village. With representatives from the parish council, primary and secondary schools and farming community volunteering to help at every stage of the project it really felt like a project in the best interests of the community. All this work was building up to a community-led, one day festival in which the artwork created by the village would be exhibited. This was later called the ‘Welbourn Horkey’, the name taken from the end of harvest feast the farmer would provide for his workers who helped. While seeming an generous, communal gesture, this feast was held instead of payment; a practice which soon died out with the more capitalist arrangement of landlord paying peasant, which arose in the sixteenth century. I revelled in learning this information and was getting on very well with the Ridges & Furrows historian Dave Reeves. It has been a joy for me to carry on learning and researching history after the end of my degree to keep my brain working in the same way and keep certain skills honed.