The furze harvesting started with the Guy family and friends at Keigwin farm on the north coast of West Penwith this week. The Guy family share grazing on the heath above their farm and they are trying to bring it back in as extensive rough grazing. After a few days cutting we moved the furze by trailer back to the farm where the ‘ricking’ commenced. There isn’t much in the way of photographic records of furze in ricks [stacks] generally. For our purposes the constraints of the mow hay and nearby barns determined the size, shape and position. A circular form was favoured as this allowed us to interlock the stems, thus holding each other in place, safeguarding against the strong wind experienced on that coast line. From a picture of a furze rick at Dowran, St Just that I have seen [C18] the rick appears to have been covered on the top by a canvas tarpaulin and covered in an old fishing net and weighed down. Once the top of the rick has been rounded off [its flat at the present - awaiting more material] it will be interesting to see how this fairs, by comparison, in the next gale. [I’ll try to get permission to post the photo on the blog so you can see it yourself]. One of my interests is how we adapt old techniques to suit new circumstances. So from this point I don’t intend to replicate a particular rick structure but to fit it to the needs of the project, though in principal I would imagine it remains very much unchanged.
The children approached the harvesting and stacking with gusto and later enjoyed the rewards of the hard work by turning the rick into a natural trampoline. It reminded me of tree climbing, springing about on the branches. I have no doubt this was a practice that use to happen in days past. It was good to see that no one particularly bothered about the scratches endured throughout the day and was an enjoyable way of illustrating how energy was once sustainably produced.
Project outline:CUT/STACK/BURN is a performative re-enactment of a redundant rural activity - furze cutting for domestic fuel (or gorse outside of cornwall). The project uses art installation as a platform to develop a visual conversation about the implications and absence of sustainable approaches in the management of land and its resources. Our current use of energy in an age of climate change becomes a focal point and pivotal issue in this visual debate.