Lyndall Phelps Fertile Ground

Fertile Ground, was created for Ridges & Furrows by artist Lyndall Phelps, who was commissioned to work with the village of Welbourn. During her early visits to the village, Lyndall was captivated by the open views onto the surrounding arable landscape. She undertook archival research into Welbourn’s agricultural heritage, looking at the village’s history in the latter half of the 19th Century. Meeting and talking with Welbourn residents history began to come alive; the people she had uncovered during her research were becoming real, she was seeing the homes and farms they had built, and meeting their ancestors.

Fertile Ground comprises 14 individual artworks, each suspended inside a circular frame, echoing the cyclical nature of agriculture. The colour palette of gold, silver and bronze has been used to reference the ‘golden age’ of agriculture in Britain, which occurred in the 1850s and 1860s. Each sculptural component references the harvest in some way; seeds and their resulting grain, the feathers from chickens on Robert and Mary Cross’ smallholding, the sheep grazing across from the Post Office, and the pigs that were once prevalent around the village. The suspended images, which have been printed onto clear acrylic, showcase historical photographs from the Burtt family; the Welbourn branch of the Lincolnshire Co-operative Society, which opened in 1878; and illustrations from local trade directories: a blacksmith’s forge, a plough and seed drill and potatoes.

Fertile Ground was originally installed in St Chad’s Church, Welbourn in October 2016 alongside artworks created by the village’s schools and communities, as part of the ‘Horkey’ event (a traditional term dating from the 16th century for end of harvest celebrations). Local farmers also displayed vintage farming tools and vehicles, including a 1920s threshing machine that produced flour from locally grown wheat, which was then baked into bread in the village hall, completing the cycle ‘from seed to loaf’.