Sunday 5 October 2014

Harvest bread

Having made an August loaf of bread, incorporating Brindle grain, I offered to make some for our Harvest Festival.

The ‘harvest bread’ made for Brindle St James Harvest Festival 2014 (approx. 80cm x 40cm) is in three pieces and depicts the haloed Christ, amongst foliage, between a sheaf of wheat and fruits on a branch.  The face is inspired by a roof boss in St Andrew’s church in Sampford Courtenay, Devon.  Some of the flour was grown and hand-milled in Brindle.

While making it many thoughts came to mind . . . . . about its significance
  • Stemming from Christ’s mouth is the breath of life, flowing throughout the natural world (including yeast)
  • Bread is both local and universal - bread in different forms, is made in every country 
  • Communion too is intensely personal but is a communal partaking
  • Offering can, and often does, stand alone but is made more complete by receiving
  • The simple fact that we are here, making an offering, is huge reason for thanksgiving
  • Labour - by definition all labour is effort, but it need not be depleting it may be life affirming - giving a heightened sense of value . . . . 
  • Within this beautiful parish are those who work incessantly with both plants and animals - gratitude to them and hope that they find it life affirming

Friday 29 August 2014


I have had to make September's husk before September.  Although the assessment week is week beginning 1st September the show had to be in place today.  I know it makes practical sense - but I find it hard to make a documentary label that tells a lie.

I have been advised that should mould grow on the bread, or jelly, that they will be thrown out.  Such a pity when they are essential indicators of constant change and the passing of time. 

On Monday 1st September I will make a replacement jar of jelly, and have frozen an August-made replacement loaf of bread. . . . . 

Tuesday 26 August 2014

The mice have been!

When I came to set up the exhibition I found changes to July's husk - the corn figure - the mice had chewed every single ear of barley from her dress and tresses.   Also her face area had turned from light green to pale pink.  Is she blushing at being so ravaged by the mice?

The mice left droppings, stalks and chaff.  University health and safety regulations prevent me from showing the ravaged husk with the droppings, which is what I'd have liked to do.  However it is a nonsense to make a 'replacement for July - in August' so I have decided to show the figure with some of the debris around her and just nudging off the edge of the table.

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Threshing about

Threshing is the labour of the month for August.  Presumably it is threshing the grain that was planted in October and harvested in July.  Perhaps it is grain to be ground into flour for bread.  It seems to me an extraordinary laborious process - but one I wanted to try.

First find my wheat (since I haven't grown any myself).  No-one in Brindle appears to have grown milling wheat this year - there's plenty of barley but its low gluten content means its not a first choice grain for bread.  However there's plenty of wheat in Breamore just now being harvested.  Sir Edward kindly let me cut a sheaf from one of his fields, which I threshed (in a pillowcase beaten against a wall).  The winnowing wasn't so easy, there wasn't much of a breeze, so I huffed and puffed to remove the dust and chaff.