The colloquium focused on some of the themes that have emerged from HERE’S TO THEE. This round-table event aimed to spark new conversations, as well as sustaining existing ones. We invited people who have been involved in the project so far, have an interest in the project themes, or would like to take part in its next phase, to join us.
Throughout the project, Simon has worked with other artists and researchers to explore the ways in which people negotiate their relationships with microbes through the process of cidermaking and the folkways associated with it. This has taken the form of collaborations and partnerships between Simon and other artists to produce ceramic work, an experimental food event, a film, photographs, and new songs and their performance, in partnership with Grays Devon Cider at Halstow.
Conversations between Simon and Prof. Harry G. West of the university’s Exeter Food network have underpinned this commission, suggesting, and putting into practice, new ways in which art, anthropology and microbial ecology, folk, ferments and Food Studies can come together to generate new ideas and new artworks, and new ways to work together.
The colloquium, and other events during the day, were an opportunity to see, hear (and taste!) the things that have been made throughout the project, and to discuss them in terms of its main themes including: the ways that people and microbes are brought together through cidermaking, the ways in which this is a product or reflection of social, political or economic relationships more generally, cider’s place within local foodways and the regional economy, and the role that folkways can play in how we understand these things.
This marked the final stage of the commission, but is also the beginning of a new phase of the research.
We made a special call to cidermakers to take part in this colloquium, as the first step towards participating in a new research project. This aims to understand the extent to which cidermaking traditions in Devon and its neighbouring counties correspond to differences in environmental factors and cultural practice. We’re particularly interested in this in terms of the differences in the microbial ecologies of cider, and in the folkways – songs and other traditions, such as wassailing – that accompany cidermaking in Devon. We hope that they will join us in thinking through this question, as a way to develop a strong understanding of what makes cider an important part of Devon’s food culture.
The colloquium ran from 1pm –3:30pm with ‘bread an’ cheese an’ cider’ refreshments. This was followed by a live performance of music from the project by Jim Causley & Bill Murray from 4pm-5pm; and a screening of Bevis Bowden’s Halstow Wassail, along with other archive cidermaking- and wassail-related films, next door at the Phoenix cinema from 5:30-6:30pm. §