Orchard owners give permission and access to their orchards in order to provide artistic inspiration to children and adults with learning disabilities. Orchard Art has allowed people with learning & physical disabilities to spend time in the Herefordshire countryside, increasing their physical activity and social interaction which has led to beneficial behavioural change and increasing self-confidence.
The project started in 2011 when 100 people spent a total of 300 hours in orchards. The art inspired by this was exhibited in Hereford Cider Museum. Over time, the number of participants has increased and the artistic output has become more ambitious. Recent highlights include the production of a play ("Five Fruit Trees Make an Orchard") with the About Face Theatre Company, which was performed in Magdalen College, Oxford and Oxford Botanic Gardens and at Lyde Court in Herefordshire. Art has been displayed at the House of Commons and the exhibition was viewed by Her Majesty the Queen at Diamond Day in Hereford in 2012. A "Celebration of Orchards" took place in Hereford Cathedral in 2013, followed by an event at the fringe to the Chelsea Flower Show.
Brightspace co-ordinates the project and provides project management for this collaborative initiative. It has been able to lever support from a wide variety of sources including the E F Bulmer Benevolent Fund, HEINEKEN UK, The Becket Bulmer Fund and Comic Relief, administered by Herefordshire Community Foundation and the Elmley Foundation.
Brightspace also seeks to ensure that the needs and opportunities of people with learning disabilities are reflected in local policy development and evaluates the impact of its events. Guests at Orchard Art events regularly include local commissioners of health and social care.
In partnership with the National Trust at Berrington Hall near Leominster, we organised a day time disco for a group of students with learning disabilities who attend Barrs Court School in Hereford. The Students helped to create the set list. This event included time in the orchard within the walled garden at Berrington Hall and we made good use of the pink pineapple pavilion constructed there by local artists Heather and Ivan Morison.
We are immensely proud of what Orchard Art has meant over the last seven years and this is celebrated in a new film produced with mediashypp and narrated by Tim, who has been part of the project for many years. Thank you to everyone who has helped make the project such a success.
We were sad to hear that Reg, one of the people who really inspired Orchard Art, passed away this year. Reg features in the film and from the very beginning of the project enthusiastically participated in events, come rain or shine. He will be missed.