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22nd December 2016

The Hop Project – Opening Friday 13th January


Guild member Susanna Forbes writes:

One of the more interesting events I went to this year was the touring Hop Project exhibition. Small, but with a number of stimulating exhibits, it’s the fresh take from outside the beer bubble that makes this of interest. Historians, quilt makers and a hip hop artist are among the range of different cultural creators who take a look at the heritage of hop harvester migrations, from Birmingham and the Black Country in the first half of the 20th century.

The next port of call for this exhibition is The Courtyard in Hereford, and Chris Poolman and Liz Row, the artists who have created/curated the exhibition via their collaboration, General Project, would like to invite Guild members to the Hereford Opening Night, on 13 January 2017 – see below.

Here’s my review of the exhibition in Bromyard. A fascinating one-off newspaper accompanies the show, the link to which is at the foot of this page. Further stops on the Hop Project’s tour can be found here.

Interestingly, the beers donated for the opening night will be from Unity Brewhouse, the new brewery set up by Sarah and Hani Saleh on Stocks Farm, the home of Ali Capper, of British Hops fame, and frequent host of Charles Faram Hop Walks.

Chris can be contacted via, 07792 736125

Join us on Friday 13th January 2017 6pm – 8pm to celebrate the opening of The Hop Project exhibition at The Courtyard, Hereford. Everyone Welcome. Ales courtesy of The Unity Brew House.

The Hop Project is a contemporary art project that is touring Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Birmingham and the Black Country in 2016/17. Funded by Arts Council England’s Strategic Touring programme, the project uses the historical migratory movements of hop pickers as the conceptual basis for a touring exhibition. The Hop Project is conceived and produced by General Public (artists Elizabeth Rowe and Chris Poolman). The project’s starting point is an exploration of the social and political implications of hop production in the West Midlands. Historically, in the 19th and early 20th century, a mass-exodus from Birmingham and the Black Country used to occur every autumn as thousands of people travelled to Herefordshire and Worcestershire for the hop picking season. The Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities also have a long history of participating in agricultural work and were a significant source of flexible, short term labour in the hop picking industry at this time. This all ended abruptly in the 1960s when mechanisation of the hop industry brought an end to the need for large numbers of workers to support the annual harvest. Since this time dramatic changes have taken place in agriculture and in the workplace more generally. One of the outcomes of these developments is that today Herefordshire has an ever increasing Central European community travelling to the county to fulfil agricultural demands.

Hop, Hop, Hopping

The project and accompanying exhibition doesn’t seek to present a factual, social history of hops; rather it offers an interpretation from a number of different angles and perspectives. It uses the verb ‘hopping’ as a working methodology to explore a number of tangential ideas connected to the history of hop growing. The phenomenon of ‘economic nomadism’ is a particularly important idea in the wider project.

The exhibition at The Courtyard includes hip-hop about hop picking, watercolours inspired by inner city graffiti, model railways, quilted beer label designs for fictional feminist ales, documentation of agricultural sculpture, archival material from Hereford Museum Archive, Bromyard Local History Society and the Media Archive for Central England, migrant vegetable paintings by local schoolchildren, a map documenting the annual movements undertaken by a Romany Traveller family, a film by Polish artist Alicja Rogalska and a new billboard artwork by Daniel Baker. And a polytunnel in the gallery.

Address: The Courtyard, Edgar Street, Hereford, HR4 9JR / 01432 340555
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Fine ales will be available courtesy of The Unity Brew House who have generously sponsored the event.