A Most Favourable Soil

Envisioned as the final exhibition in the Butler Castle galleries, A Most Favourable Soil (November, 2019) looks to the botanical practice of grafting as a metaphorical basis that links people, site, land use, and production to the upcoming relocation of the Butler Gallery across the river Nore to the site of the former Evans’ Home. The exhibition considers how each architectural iteration of the site since the twelfth century and the physical reuse of fabric from the previous building, serve as a form of rootstock which is then blended with the newly planted structure or scion.

The concept of grafting and melded creations not only emphasizes the regeneration of the Evans’ Home site, but also has a strong connection to the history of orchards in the area, particularly the St. John’s Orchard. It draws directly on aspects of several individuals who were instrumental in the making of the almshouse. The very nature of the site’s history can be visualized in the form of a grafted family tree, following established metaphorical connections between idea and place and mapping the lineage of people through time. That there are gaps in this history— silences in memory, records, and knowledge—is to be expected. But it is in these small openings in the overall fabric that allow for breath and expansion. There is more to learn. The co-mingled tree is the beginning of an orchard.

Featuring works by Varujan Baghosian, Charlotte Wheeler Cuffe, Micky Donnelly, Peter Hutchinson, Nevill Johnson, Stefan Kurten, Katie Ridley Murphy, Seoidin O’Sullivan, Joe Peragine, Jack Pierson, Daphne Wright