70 x 7 The Meal Act XXXIX, Peterborough, 2015
Materials: Table setting for 500 guests, Royal Limoges porcelain plates (Two editions of Ed 250), silk jacquard table runner (Ed 30m), inkjet table runner (Ed 500m)
Dimensions: An open-air lunch in the city of Peterborough
Exhibition history: 2015 Cathedral Square, Peterborough, UK
Courtesy: Lucy + Jorge Orta, Metal Peterborough
Harvest was an ephemeral public art event and participatory installation, designed to coincide with the harvest moon on 20 September 2015. The aim of the event was to contribute to the revival of the UK town of Peterborough's 8000-year-old agricultural heritage, and to research the core motifs and objects that people associate with their cultural heritage after the process of mechanisation and industrialisation significantly changed the ways in which agriculture is now understood. Harvest was staged as an Act in Lucy + Jorge Orta's ongoing collaborative series “70 × 7 The Meal.”
Harvest: 70×7 The Meal, act XXXIV is the 34th act in a series, it was the first public meal in the UK in the series, gathering 500 local residents to dine in Peterborough’s Cathedral Square. The series “70×7” takes the everyday ritual of dining and introduces motifs, symbolism and language collected through the research behind the work. The Peterborough research informed the design of bespoke table artworks: Royal Limoges porcelain plates and table-runners. These relational objects, placed within an unhabitual public setting, are designed as triggers for discussion, the discussions were recorded and archived by BBC Radio.
Following the Harvest event, the exhibition Food was installed in the Peterborough Museum and Art Gallery in 2016. Food presented further research around the issues engaged in the meal event and its prior activities, concerning food production, the social aspects of consumption, the food object and its environmental effects. Works in the exhibition included Bread, a sculpture containing four reconditioned wooden wheel barrows, steel supports with cut frosted- glass and 100 cast aluminium objects, and presented alongside Seeds, an installation of 31 hand-blown glass interpretations of seeds (approx. 50cm diameter each). Seeds was set against 33 pigment-ink water-colour drawings (30 × 30cm each) mirroring the glass objects and further enhancing their intricate diversity, normally invisible to the human-eye. These two summative works pose questions about the processes of conservation and legacy, drawing new light on threatened traditions, cultures and species, drawing parallels to the process of mechanisation and industrialisation and its effects on farming practices and the general loss of biodiversity.