Recently I took part in the Smile Inside project. A community project developed in response to Covid-19 to help Isolated older people.
Stories were collected via telephone conversations and artists invited to respond to the stories. Here is my contribution, I illustrated a wonderful story from a man called Derek who is in his 90’s. He shares his memories from an old English tradition called “Oak Apple Day” in a village called Great Wishford which he has been attending all his life apart from this year because it was cancelled. I will be sending this drawing to him so I hope I have done it justice and there will be a big celebration for everyone who took part eventually.
I will also be considered for a larger commission piece. If I am selected I am planning on creating a multi plate lino cut print based on this drawing.
Here is Derek’s story, I found it is very moving, I really hope I get to meet him!
Derek – Oak Apple Day
I’ve got a big photograph that was taken back in the 50’s and it’s about 30 to 40 people in this photograph and I use my memory to see if I can still remember the names of those people in that photograph. I remember most of them and every time I think of them I remember they all had different charactors and different ways.
It’s a press photograph because the press were always taking photographs of the event. I was in my 30’s then. I’ve got photographs going back years because my father was involved with it you know and my brother. Well the whole village was, it was, you know, the event of the year. I go down and I visit it every year. There is a tradition that the people of the village must go up to the forest and they must cut oak boughs from the tree and they must decorate their houses with them. Then some of them take them to Salisbury Cathedral where they are met with the Bishop and they are laid on the alter of Salisbury Cathedral.
The forest was called Grovely forest. It’s part of Lord Pembroke’s estate.
Years ago, they actually used to march in position to Salisbury Cathedral for six miles, it used to start at 3 in the morning all the villagers would be up in the woods cutting their boughs before sunrise. You had to walk. The whole family would go and I remember doing it as a child, it was the highlight of the village and all the old farmers would save up their money all year round because there was a beer tent there that was open all day. For the children it was like sports day, sports in the afternoon , dinner for the grown ups and tea later on for the children like sandwhiches, cakes and orange squash.
I don’t suppose they’ll be doing it this year.
I look at the photo everyday and see my friends but most of them are dead now, it’s a happy memory.
I miss going down, and it’s on a friday this year, May 29th.
Here is the ink drawing I made in response incorporating some quotes from Derek’s story