Pleasure Ground

Ingestre Orangery’s contemporary Art Programme ‘Pleasure Ground’ addresses the site’s history through three contemporary artists’ residencies and features their responses with this online exhibition. 

ADAM MOORE

is an English- St Lucian, transdisciplinary Artist and curator, born, living, and working in the regenerated east-end of London. Adam explores multiculturalism, unity, and resilience, negotiating variant ephemeral (and durational) activity.

Adam finds more artful ways of living through experimental collaborations and collective exchanges across cultures, identities, and experiences; Dancing across drawing and painting, moving image, installation, text, sound, and sculpture, generating new relationships between process and form, inviting others into new ways of perceiving and connecting, entailing a deeper synthesis of experience.

Adam gestures towards and through scintillating Blackness, Queerness, and Faith, creating new realities and thawing frozen institutions; valuing the privilege of learning what it means to be human, and how this is embodied and reconfigured, in socially engaged, environmental, and more than natural, physical, and rational relations.

1. DAWN

Embarking early along the long walk, Black Mondo grass sprouts modestly low, easily missed in eager anticipation of pretty flowers. Two bushy blankets of Japanese Maple flank either side of the promenade. Passing under the Yew arch, further down on the left, the Smoke Tree plumes upright.

On dewy-soft lawn I bathe. Born again, today, my soles are purified. Water leaks up from the ground and over me, mingling with salt, sublimating into bright birdsong skies.

Unhurried, listening to the dew and to the trees, I pour into a full sky, listening to the drifting shade and to the warmth on my face: I reach into entirety and faith.

Soaked into the ground and washed away, by rivers flowing into seas flowing into oceans: blood-loss, and extraction, and death: spiked flesh stratified within the mantle of life.

Unmet expectations: hearts that lead the eyes to see the superadded trauma, the ghastly, insidious, transpiration. And the enduring, sophisticated sufferings cultivated in a bygone era, piercing as deeply now as then.

Peace, restoration, and remedy – that the death soaked bedrock might give way, might yield an answer, an opportunity, a cure in a tincture of dark clouds and smoke.

How much more attention is required to perceive the Black blood soaked roots, the shoots and branches writhing in earth fertilized with fear – recoiling and ruddy beneath the green lawns that roll across each square inch of British soil? And what of the enclosures: how many souls are encroached upon this side of the subterranean?

DIAPHANOUS

Ama Josephine Budge

is a Speculative Writer, Artist, Curator and Pleasure Activist whose praxis navigates intimate explorations of race, art, ecology and feminism, working to activate movements that catalyse human rights, environmental evolutions and troublesomely queered identities. Ama is the recipient of the 2020 Local, International and Planetary Fictions Fellowship with Curatorial Frame (Helsinki) and EVA International (Limerick). Her research for this fellowship: Pleasurable Ecologies – Formations of Care: Curation as Future-building is an in-depth exploration of decolonial and intersectional curatorial care practices. The research acknowledges the entire ecosystem of socio-historical politics involved in curating contemporary art and cultural production. Ama is also a member of Queer Ecologies 2020, initiator of the Apocalypse Reading Room project and Lead Artist on the MycoLective project with Chisenhale Studios and Feral Practice.

Little Warm Deaths

I first met Anama at the ruins of the Ingestre Orangery. She was cuddled in close with the fox’s kittens, in a hole, a nest, a womb, a reckoning of reclaimed architecture. A little feral, a little lost. I was entirely undone. The fig tree was gnarled and expansive, dominating their wild ecologies. Together they built worlds out of broken glass and underfloor heating kept hot by mychorizal infestations of dewy mushrooms and moss.

I found out later she was taking a break from humans. Having loved and played, created and courted them in at least seven different centuries, she was tired now of their dominant ecologies. I had to fight through Japanese knotweed to reach her. Racing those long runners. I followed the crushed grass potence of her scent. She pulled life and death toward her on a mirthless axis. I don’t know if she had a choice. I don’t know if I did either. I know that in the end, I did not want one. The possibilities of time and space she brought to broaden the whites of my eyes were what allowed me to stay in the end, to stay in this reality, in spite of its jagged edges.

I lost my deep wounds in the curves of her conch shell as she taught me how pluck the nipples from London Pride and crush them into a pumice to rouge the lips and adorn the earlobes. We ate clotted cream and scones in the undergrowth and my teeth were flecked with grit. She braided my hair with African Daisy’s, which she told me she’d planted herself in 1612 for Anne Chetwynd because the red hot pokers were her favourite. Anama had smiled when she said this, like a wolf, fingering the furry, pliant stems. And she told me many other things about the melancholies of Anne, and the ways Anama had soothed and sated them.

In the mornings we poured libations, marking the future graves of plantkin that were soon to be ripped out. Aanama knew these things were coming. She got a little sad around the mouth, a little solemn in the corners of her eyes, a little grieffull about the chin. But never for long. She said she’d lived too many lifetimes with fleetingly-live lovers and loved to many places soon to be soaked in blood. That’s how she spoke about us, her conquests, as flitting sparrows or snap dragons, blooming only for one season at a time. Whilst she remained. Or didn’t. I don’t know why she kept coming back here, over the centuries. She told me once of a party here in the pleasure gardens where all the poets, writers and composers of the day had smoked long pipes laced with witch hazel, draped in silks and furs and lustful parodies of the Roman occupation. These costumes, she assured me dreamily, were historically inaccurate of course, but made a wonderful play of colours amidst the Japanese Maples and the Cherry Blossoms.

I came back here, once, for the wedding of a friend and confessed myself shocked by the transformation, where I had known wildness there were straight lines, where once there was an abundance of species, now the more careful one, two, or three of a kind. I remembered the libations Anama and I had poured, all those years ago, and saw benches, clearings and grass in their stead. The wedding was beautiful, and the sun splintered through the newly restored glass ceiling kissing and loving up on us all until our breasts and backs become dewy with need, and the warming oranges that held up the windows scented the air like promises of fruit their little branches could not satisfy.

Verity Birt

(b.1989) is a funded, practice-based PhD researcher at Northumbria University and the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art (BxNu) in Newcastle. She has an MA from the Royal College of Art (2015) and BA from Goldsmiths University of London (2011). Situated in intersectional Feminism, Birt’s practice of writing, performance, sculpture, sound and film-making seeks to materialise enchanted encounters and meaningful intimacies between each-other and the more-than-human world. Her PhD is currently titled: ‘Re-enchanting the World; a Feminist Sympoiesis’ and experiments with collaborative processes of making-with, in search of a recuperative and reparative aesthetics.

poem on grey background - text is below
poem on green background - text is below
poem on sky blue background - text is below

Grey

Time just

Pretends

To be old

Your

Ruin

Plays with

Our heritage

Makes it

Monumental,

Godly, when

It’s really

Just death

And rage

A fantasy of empire

Here, slumped

Under an oak tree

A gothic throne

For corvids

Shitting on

The head

Of antiquity

The worm laughs

As it eats our

Crumbling virtue

Green

A monoculture

Of green

Like for like

Staging a

Performance

Of nature

Without nature

Without us

Holding air

And hostility

Accumulating

Time and

Cold bodies

I excavate

The real estate

To find

The realness

And instead

Find posh dirt

Some ants

Like anywhere

In deep England

Where once

There was

Common land

Blue

Wet remedy

Salty and healing

Buried under

Ornamental hills

And false vistas

Erasing folk memory

Of saints

And miracles

Supported by:

Arts Council England logo

The Ingestre Orangery: Heritage Pod Development - This project is part funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development