Chapter 2: The Rick

Rachael Champion, Dolon Kundu, Amy & Oliver Thomas-Irvine and Jim Woodall
Hatton Farm, Warwickshire

Funded By

This sculptural intervention is a way-marker for Chapter 2 of this evolving art programme, the local growing and harvesting of a crop of Atle Spring wheat, the straw from which forms one of the three main materials present in Hand Earth Gesture Return. Synonymous with the English landscape until the middle of the last century, stacks and ricks are still used to store and dry straw and grain in many parts of the world today. This artwork was produced in collaboration with master thatcher Westley Marriott.

Spring 2021 saw the sowing of this crop of Atle Spring wheat at Hatton Farm, Warwickshire. In Summer 2021, working with community volunteers, it was traditionally harvested. This local growing story has taken us, and those that have joined us, on an incredible journey of discovery, learning about straw production, crafts, cultures and traditions. We have learnt and taught traditional harvesting techniques such as scything and using a vintage tractor and reaper-binder, stooking and thatching. We have experienced the physical labour and comradery of threshing and winnowing wheat grain. We better understand some of the complexities and challenges of arable farming techniques, old and new. And we’ve dipped our toes into the world of heritage grains, hybridisation and crop diversity. Special thanks to all who have helped us along this journey.

Hand Earth Gesture Return is an experimental artwork that publicly manifests across different media (film, photography, sculpture, performance, installation, events) over the course of a year, as chapters. Through this approach we aim to share the development and evolution, across time and space, of public sculpture, of an idea, of materials and their processing.

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