70 x 7 The Meal act XXXIX, Peterborough
Materials: Royal Limoges porcelain plate, enamel and gold. Edition of 250 plates, dated and signed by the artists
Dimensions: 27 cm
Exhibition history: 2017 Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication, Paris, France; 2015 Harvest, Cathedral Square, Peterborough, UK
Courtesy: Lucy + Jorge Orta
On 20 September 2015, to coincide with the harvest moon and to take part in a revival of Peterborough's 8,000 year-old agricultural heritage thousands of people descended on the town of Peterborough for an extraordinary public art event: Act thirty-nine of 70 x 7 The Meal. For the occasion the Lucy + Jorge Orta proposed an immense table setting for 500 guests, in Peterborough’s Cathedral Square. They designed bespoke dinner services of commemorative limited edition Royal Limoges porcelain and a silk jacquard table runner woven with gold thread for an ‘offering table’. On the offering table were giant bread boards carved by residents of the local prison HMP Peterborough and hundreds of loaves of bread baked by local residents, which the artists later cast into aluminium. The colour duality on each plate represents the equinox, with day night, light dark in equal balance. This is accentuated on the table setting as the plates alternate. Mabon, the holiday of the autumn equinox, is associated with the Pagan ritual of thanksgiving for the fruits of the earth, these include cereal grains, honey suckle pomegranate, pine cones, acorns, passion fruit, all depicted on the plate design. Lammas is the Anglo Saxon 'loaf mass', and the festival of the wheat harvest, in the first harvest of the year it was customary to bring a loaf to church, made from the new crop. Loaves were blessed and attributed with magical properties. A Lammas bread was broken into four and placed in the corners of the barn to protect the gathered grain. The fragmentation of the plate references these traditions. The yellow ears of cereal are enameled in gold, symbolically raising the status of the basic ingredients of bread. Two editions of 250 examples were produced by the Royal Limoges porcelain manufacturer in France.