West Horsley Place
A 7-screen video installation by Rosemary Lee in collaboration with Roswitha Chesher.
Choreographer Rosemary Lee brings her unique sensibilities to both landscape and people to create a new video-work made collaboratively with filmmaker Roswitha Chesher – inspired by and shot in the historic wild orchard at West Horsley Place.
Filmed over a year through the four seasons, ORCHARD PORTRAITS features five senior performers, each in a meditative and elegant duet with their chosen ageing tree. As human and tree become entwined almost as one, there is a sense of deep unity seeming to pay tribute to humanity’s ancient and ongoing intimate relationship with trees. In contrast we are reminded of natures’ cycles of regeneration as 60 school children burst through the orchard in moments of joy and discovery.
Orchard Portraits Podcast
Listen to an insightful and entertaining podcast by Whistlestop Arts featuring interviews with the artists, performers and staff at West Horsley Place. Listen here.
Bringing the beauty of outside in, this seven-screen video installation will inhabit the stone hall of West Horsley Place throughout the summer/autumn of 2023.
“The orchard has such a still, timeless quality, I love it’s quiet wildness. I was drawn particularly to the human sized trees, so old now and past their best fruiting days but living through each season, and home to beautiful lichens and mosses. I imagined senior performers in contemplative partnership with these trees and equally imagined a throng of school children exploring the orchard with youthful energy.”Rosemary Lee
Together the performers found gestures and ways to lean into and rest against the tree. Very quickly a connection forms between human and tree. The idea that that our structure and physicality is shaped by the time we spent in trees struck Rosemary on reading these words from the biologist and writer Colin Tudge:
The reason we have such dextrous hands and whirling arms is that our ancestors spent 80 million years or so in the trees.”Colin Tudge ‘The Secret Life of Trees’
Filming throughout the seasons was both a challenge and a delight. The orchard transforms itself through Spring, Summer and Autumn.
“We got to know every branch, bud, robin and cowslip. We were struck by how everyone appreciated the trees and felt so at home and at peace in the orchard.”Rosemary Lee
This work is touring and currently in Limerick. Any future installations in Surrey will be on the What’s On section of the website.
This project was part of Surrey Dance 21 and funded by Arts Council England.
Rosemary Lee has been making live dance works and films for over thirty years, often in response to a particular site or community. She has made works in the canopies of mature trees, across expansive tidal landscapes, and in central London’s green squares and her casts have ranged from one to over 250 performers. She works with performers of all ages, professionals and non- professionals. Her work is characterised by an interest in creating a moving portraiture of the performing individuals and communities she brings together, whilst also exploring and highlighting our relationship with our