One Community, Twelve Stories (2021)
Past, Present and Future
In the village of South Creake in Norfolk lives a community. That community, like all others, has it's own history and stories.
The Ostrich Inn, re-opened in the village in May 2021 and, commissioned to produce a work which reflected the local community, I developed 'One Community, Twelve Stories (Past, Present and Future)'.
A large piece measuring approximately 200 x 100 cm, it is divided into twelve panels.
Each panel reflecting a different aspect of the community's history, present state or future direction.
To find out more about each image, or the rationale for the orange frame itself, select it using your cursor.
Morely Farm in South Creake, is run by fourth generation pig farmer Tim Allen. In fact his mother’s side of the family have been in the village since 1625. “They don’t get out much” (his words, not mine).
What Tim doesn’t know about pigs and pig farming really isn’t worth knowing.
All that rolling about in the mud, is in fact a pig’s way of keeping cool. As they have no sweat glands, pigs are much more tolerant of the cold than heat.
His pigs, kept outside from birth, dot the surrounding landscape and when I went for a tour, it just happened to be piglet time and so ended up taking far too many photographs of them.
The Iron Age Fort on Bloodgate Hill, is now owned by the Norfolk Archaeological Trust.
Probably constructed between two and three thousand years ago, the site of the fort overlooks South Creake to the South West. What makes this fort unusual is that there are relatively few Iron Age Forts in Norfolk.
Aerial views of the site show a circular construction of approximately 210m in diameter.
Although one side of the village sign does depict battling warriors, the origins of the name Bloodgate Hill are not known and do not necessarily imply the site of bloody battles, which I’ve always found slightly odd. These days you are more likely to stumble upon grazing sheep.
The church of Our Lady St Mary in South Creake boasts really remarkable woodwork, a highlight being the carved angels which line the beautiful hammerbeam roof. Most are the original works dating from the 15th Century.
The intention of the presence of these celestial beings, I suspect, to reassure the flock below.
One allegedly carries a bullet from the English Civil War, although it is also claimed that the musket damage was caused during attempts to clear the roof space of nesting jackdaws.
The stained glass windows of the church, depict in rich colours, many religious events. However the, predominantly plain panes of the larger windows are beautiful. Bathed in the warm glow of an evening sunset or the grey tones of a winter’s morning, the effect is to illuminate the pews inside with the light from the world beyond.
Rising up above the rooftops of South Creake is Oliver’s Tower. A building, which was at one time the site of a brewery (look at the Pinchen bottle part of this work) and a breakfast cereal factory, but which by 1921 was home to the razor blade factory ‘Ace Works’ . The ‘Ace of Blades’ razor blade was popular with the armed forces during the Second World War.
You can see a large replica razor blade from the road hung high on one of the garden walls.
Unfortunately upon the death of the owner Mr GT Money, the factory eventually closed and fell into disrepair, until in the 1980’s it was converted into a residential property.
Possibly the most controversial part of this work. The presence of the ducks in the village, divides opinions like no other. Why? Because there are a lot of them. Literally hundreds at some points of the year.
Nesting in the surrounding gardens, they make their daily waddle across the roads, oblivious to the cars that (usually!) screech to a halt.
Whether you love them or not, what is undeniable is that ducklings score 10/10 on the cuteness scale.
This tractor, owned by Philip Edge, is a 1964 Ford Super Dexter. Although never used on the village farms, it is used in ploughing matches and at vintage shows.
Ploughing a straight line is apparently more difficult than it looks, even though to me it looks pretty difficult anyway.
It can often be heard running in Phillip’s garden to keep it in good order.
South Creake has no shops. The closest food shops are either in Burnham Market or Fakenham.
As a result, Mr and Mrs Mendham’s Veg shed is often a life saver. Realising you haven’t got Brussel sprouts 10 minutes before cooking the Christmas lunch – that kind of life saver!
Wanting to know what’s available on the information board, is one of the musts of village life.
The river Burn slices through the centre of the village. Home to a lot of ducks, it’s other notable feature is that it is one of only a few chalk fed rivers in Norfolk.
Its chalk bed filters the water, releasing it again through numerous springs and fissures.
It flooded quite spectacularly in the January and February of 2021.
Driving in to South Creake from Burnham Market, you will come to Oliver’s Tower, an imposing four storey building. Although now a residential property, it was at one time a razor blade factory (look at the razor blade part of this work) and before that, in 1896, the site of Pinchen’s Brewery.
The characteristic clay or glass bottles can still be widely found across North Norfolk.
The old handpainted ‘Pinchen and Son’ sign has recently been restored and is now clearly visible on the sides of the Tower.
On the site of a former petrol station, stands what can only be described as a sad, solitary petrol pump. On its badly weathered front, virtually nothing is discernible. However, the back, pressed up against a brick wall and protected from the worst of the weather, its earlier, pre-metric life is beautifully clear.
Standing tall overlooking South Creake is Jack’s Lane Windfarm.
Six wind turbines, gracefully turning and with the capacity to produce 15MW of clean electricity. I have never quite understood some peoples’ Quixotic anger with this technology. Peaceful and reassuring, they represent the future.
But, as with the ducks, their presence is not to everyone’s liking. However to tilt at windmills is to ignore their contribution to our children’s future.
As you walk through the front door to the bar area of the Ostrich Inn, you cannot fail to notice the stained glass window of an ostrich. Caught in the bright sunlight of a sunny Norfolk day, the colours are mesmerising. I had assumed that it was a relic from the early part of the 20th Century, only to find that it was made by Dr Matthew Bristow a local dentist for 15 years who left for New Zealand in 2009. So, not the antique I thought, but beautiful nonetheless.
The form of my piece ‘One Community, Twelve Stories (Past, Present and Future)’ is a nod to that stained glass doorway. Each panel though depicting one aspect of South Creake Village life or history.
The layout although seemingly random, in that no identifiable object is formed, is actually far from random. But, part of the allure of contemporary art is trying to understand the intentions of the artist and as such, I’ll keep the form of the orange panels to myself and hope that others will try and work it out.