Annual celebration of the landscape at Box Hill
Harvest was an annual community event celebrating the Surrey Hills landscape at harvest time. This event has evolved into ‘WonderDusk’. Hundreds of people gather on Box Hill at dusk to view a site-specific illuminated installation, participate in singing and hear local poetry inspired by the surrounding landscape.
This unique event aims to reflect the cultural diversity of our communities in an area of outstanding natural beauty which we all share and benefit from.
The 2022 event had the theme of connections between ourselves and nature and to each other. The striking central installation by Diana Burch was called ‘Seeds of Hope’ This structure was made by hundreds of people across Surrey who participated in this mindful activity of binding wool. The event also included singing of multiple choirs led by vocal leader Anna Tabbush, beautiful music by Ukrainian band Atmasfera and poetry from the Mole Valley Poets. Muslim hiking group Active Inclusion completed their first Southern hike around Box Hill at the event and everyone was invited to a torchlight procession down the hill to complete the evening.
Harvest grew out of a project in September 2018 where Mary Branson explored the relationship of the local farming community to the land, the processes and rituals of harvest time and the impact of the changing climate on their work. Harvest 2018 featured sixty six ‘invisible’ hay bales; illuminated outlines of what should have been in the lower field had we not suffered the drought. The piece highlighted some of the unseen work that goes into shaping the landscape that is often taken for granted.
“It’s a rare privilege to be able to create an art work for such a beautiful location as Lower Box Hill Farm. Observing the fields harvest cycle has been a real eye opener, seeing the delicate balance faced each season with the increasingly extreme weather conditions. This is the story that has shaped my installation.”Mary Branson, 2018
The event took place at the end of a three week showing of the installation and also featured The Calling, an artwork by Alison Carlier of voices communicating across the landscape. Eighty singers at the viewpoint sang out phrases devised by choir leader Anna Tabbush. A group of singers in the lower field responded with a faint, other-worldly sound back.
In 2019, the event was called Harvest – One Moon. We were joined by the I Speak Music Orchestra, young people from a refugee or displaced background who come together to share and learn music skills who provided drumming rhythm to the singers. They also worked with the local choirs to learn a Syrian piece of music which they performed together. We were also joined by UP! Orchestra of Unlimited Potential, young people with special educational needs who joined in the singing and percussion.
Mary Branson returned to the site and created a piece purely with people and lanterns in the lower field at Box Hill farm to be viewed at a great distance from Solomons Memorial. One hundred women marched to the beat of Medau drum forming a perfect circle before dissecting it to represent Equinox.
With thanks for additional support from:
Mary Branson specialises in creating large scale installations, using sculpture, light and sound. By experimenting with scale, light and multiplicity, she forms new environments that question the existing polemics of art and the space it inhabits. Many of her installations are temporary and encompass elements of performance, photography, film and sound. In 2014, Mary became Artist in Residence at the Houses of Parliament, researching archives of the Suffrage movement, and producing New Dawn artwork for the Palace of Westminster was unveiled on June 7th, 2016.