Albury Vineyard is a jewel in the Surrey Hills. It is an intoxicating combination of beauty and agriculture – both a stunningly scenic place and a place of hard work. To my eyes, the days in Albury Vineyard play with time – the past and the future. Most days at the vineyard are about planning ahead, tending to the vine, thinking of the next year’s harvest. The other days are linking back to years before, reaping the rewards of the harvests of previous years. With each harvest being fundamentally imprinted by a variety of factors that were specific to that year’s crop. And yet, once a year, there is a magical time when everything is focused on a particular moment – when everything and everyone connects to a specific time – the harvest.
This year, I was fortunate enough to help out at the harvest and gain a first hand understanding of the extraordinary care and love that goes into each grape. Each bunch of grapes are precious, have to be handled carefully and transported without being crushed to the place where the wine making process truly begins. The harvest in vineyards across the world is often a highly stressful time that is full of predictions about the weather, discussions about when to start the harvest, and nervously awaiting to find out yields and percentages. And despite all the stress and worry, it is an immensely exciting time when there is a real buzz in the air. When to the common visitor, it’s strikingly clear that vineyards are not there just to have a nice wine tasting and look pretty for our photo opportunities, but to create wine. The elixir that we so prize.
Each artwork is an original composition created from genuine elements from Albury Vineyard – leaves of the vines, the vines themselves, and the leaf stems. The result is a haunting mix of obviously recognizable leaf shapes alongside more structural elements in the artwork. I wanted to capture a record of this year’s harvest in that moment and to celebrate all the work that goes into making the harvest a success. But above all, to pay homages to the vines themselves - their beauty and strength.
By not using colour in my artworks, I wanted to focus on the structure of the vine leaves themselves. Creating art in monochrome enabled me to highlight the linear architecture of the vineyard and bringing out the details of the vine leaves, while creating shadows reminiscent of clouds and weather patterns that leave their imprint on every year’s harvest. And above all, I wanted to create fingerprints of the individual vine leaves that create the grapes. And just like human fingerprints which all might look similar at first glance, but are in truth all highly individual, so are the leaves in the vineyard – simultaneously the same and uniquely different.