Triple Harvest is a collection of new online video work as part of In Steps of Sundew, Fermynwoods Contemporary Art’s two-year programme of artistic interventions in public spaces across Northamptonshire. The programme explores the push and pull between nature and human presence and the effect that extracting resources from the landscape has upon those living within it.
“The story of Corby is one of steel. The fortunes of the East Northamptonshire town were intrinsically tied to those of the steel industry for much of the 20th century: booming in the postwar years before succumbing to the aftermath of the 1970s recession. Corby is a place of constant reinvention, adaptation and modernisation, and the raw materials of its history can be extracted from the holdings of the BFI National Archive and regional collections.”British Film Institute
Triple Harvest, Ikran Abdille, Martha Cattell, Amy Cutler, Marie-Chantal Hamrock, Sapphire Goss, Amanda Loomes and Vaughan Pilikian were invited to remix four Corby heritage films to create new narratives through the extraction of archival film material. These films included Peter Paul’s 1960’s documentary film Double Harvest, which told the story of the Steelworks’ impact on Corby, where the land was harvested for iron ore, returning to farmland for future crop yields. In 2016, Corby’s population was projected to increase faster than any other borough outside of London, with much of the land now being developed for homes welcoming new migrations of people to the town.
The other films were PLUTO: Corby’s role in making the Pipeline Under The Ocean, which supplied the Allied Armies during the D-day landings and subsequent invasion of occupied Europe; The Great Jib: A story of the ingenuity and skill of the workforce at Corby Steelworks during the making of what was the biggest walking dragline between 1947-1951; and Iron Ore in Britain: The mining and extraction of iron ore and its use in steel making.
Ikran Abdille’s Triple Harvest [12:48] combines the colours and sounds of found footage of pre-war Somalia, with extracts from Double Harvest, connecting her current home in Northamptonshire, to the place her family fled due to violence. Somali Independence coinciding with the publication of the original documentary film.
Martha Cattell’s Subterranean Harvest [03:24] challenges the idea of the archive as a formal reference point for information. The film is made up of printed stills of Double Harvest, The Great Jib and Iron Ore in Britain, which have been physically cut up, torn, ripped and in some cases stained and soaked with water from the River Nene and soil from Northamptonshire – layers mimicking the construction and deconstruction of the landscape. Sounds are made from recordings of contact being made with steel objects and ex-steel work machinery now located in Corby, East Carlton Country Park as well as nature and woodland sounds from nearby Fineshade, Hazel and Thoroughsale Woods.
Amy Cutler‘s You Call It Sundew [51:25] explores the human and nonhuman elements of landscape excavations, remixing the archives through projection onto steel and limestone blocks, creating new sound and footage to tell a multi-species story.
Sapphire Goss’ Neverending Jigsaw [05:26] uses the archive to build a symphonic video composition: periods of rhythmic, layered industrial textures and movement interspersed with bucolic hand tinted scenes of farmland; eerily populated with objects out of context made from the cogs, wheels, steel tubes, and jibs. The obsolete, silent machinery is placed in fields in outsized proportions to make curious monuments in the manner of Paul Nash’s Equivalents for the Megaliths.
Marie-Chantal Hamrock‘s There is Something in the Ground, There is Something in the Sky [11:01], employs fiction as method, mining history to create an alternate future from symbolic doubles meanings such as the pitchfork as a symbol of both Pluto and of the harvest, connecting the netherworld from which the ore was harvested to the celestial body that floats above.
Amanda Loomes juxtaposes extracts from Double Harvest, The Great Jib and Iron Ore in Britain, with her own previously unseen footage filmed at the Ketton Cement Works in Rutland in 2017, under the pretext of being a civil engineer turned artist. The resulting film, Combine [18:43], shines a light on unseen labour to challenge complacency and question where motivation and value can be found.
Vaughan Pilikian’s Conundrum [05:07], named after the Corby-made cable reels used in the secret WW2 PLUTO operation, evokes the primal forces that link industrial workers to nature’s most destructive and creative forces: heat, pressure, and the making and breaking of fundamental structure.
The online exhibition is accompanied by a new episode of the Fermynwoods Podcast featuring an original Triple Harvest-inspired sound work by artist and former industrial engineer, Anja Borowicz; as well as the original Double Harvest [29:43] film.
Triple Harvest was supported by Corby Borough Council Archives and funded by Arts Council England.
Artists were selected by the Fermynwoods team and Gary Thomas, Director of Animate Projects and film programme manager at the British Council.