Moretonhampstead, Devon (2019)
Artist in Residence
Amy Shelton was one of the three artists in residence invited to work with the community of Moretonhampstead throughout 2018 and 2019 for the Arts Council funded Growing Dartmoor Project with Green Hill Arts.
There were three stands to her residency which culminated in the creation of a bespoke public artwork Anthology: The Moretonhampstead Herbarium which was made for and is now permanently installed in Moretonhampstead Health Centre waiting room as a lasting legacy of the project. Shelton had flower collection points in the doctors surgery, cafes, shops, hairdressers and the school and post office.
The artwork reflects the rich culture that surrounds the plants grown across this ancient town. In the making of this work, Shelton worked with the entire school community of Moretonhampstead Primary, and a group of elders at Coppelia House Residential Home. It is estimated that since the 1930’s we have lost an estimated ninety eight percent of our wildflower-rich grasslands. Many of the residents at Coppelia House recalled memories of wildflower prevalence in their childhoods describing how they remembered there being fields of vermillion Poppies, Ox-Eye Daisies, Yellow Rattle and vibrant blue Flax in abundance in the places they played as children. This artwork reconnects a community with the biodiversity that surrounds them, hoping to re-evaluate the connection between human health and environment.
The works made in the workshops and Anthology: The Moretonhampstead Herbarium were exhibited in the exhibition Thrive: Our community and the Flora of the Moors in autumn 2019 alongside the work of Nicky Thompson and Angharad Barlow – the other two artists in residence for this project.
In 2018 Amy Shelton was commissioned by Greenhill Arts in Moretonhampstead to create an artwork to be permanently installed in the Health Centre waiting room. The Anthology: Moretonhampstead Herbarium lightbox artwork illuminates the flowers people collected from their gardens and allotments as well as the wildflowers that Shelton gathered from the hedgerows and from the edges of the moor. It not only celebrates the biodiverse flora growing in the town, but the community who live there. Anthology derives from an Ancient Greek word anthologia, meaning a ‘flower-gathering’. Singly each carefully pressed botanical sample tells a quiet, personal story. Together they form a bouquet imbued with meaning, celebrating diversity, and resonating with the many voices in its making. By mapping the cherished flowers that the community grow for pleasure and for food, this artwork tells a unique story. Many of the flowers encapsulated in this work were accompanied by labels explaining their significance to the grower, or simply the OS reference of where they were found. These are interwoven with flowers from wedding bouquets, ones picked the day a baby was born as well as favoured plant samples from the GP’s nurses and midwives at the Health Centre.