A public art project will transform Hartley Wood Estate in Sunderland into an orchard with glass apples.
In the next few months, the residents of Sunderland’s Hartley Wood Estate will start to notice a small orchard of apple trees appearing in the communal landscaped area at the centre of the Estate. Each tree will bear a different variety of English apple, identifiable by a name label. By autumn, the trees will have produced a crop of apples of varying tastes, textures and colours: a harvest for the whole community to enjoy.
The orchard is, in fact, a public artwork commissioned by Gentoo Sunderland. Gentoo approached National Glass Centre to produce a public work for the Estate to create a lasting landmark following the development of 120 new homes in Pennywell.
Ian Porter, Managing Director of Gentoo Sunderland said: “We are delighted to be part of a project like this as community initiatives are at the core of everything that Gentoo aims to deliver.
“With residents and partners in line to take part in the installation, it is an exciting time for the Hartley Wood Estate.”
Inspired by the former Wearside glass works, Hartley Wood, and the estate’s namesake, the project celebrates giving and sharing, and the Hartley Wood community is invited to nurture and harvest the orchard, sharing the growing crop of apples each year as the trees grow bigger and stronger and yield more fruit. An additional feature at the centre of the orchard, will be a traditional wooden apple barrel containing glass apples. Each glass apple will be handcrafted and coloured, to replicate the real apples produced by the orchard. These glass apples will be sculpted from molten glass at the National Glass Centre, using traditional glass making techniques. It is also quite fitting that NGC and ex-Hartley Wood glass makers have joined forces to create them.
Grainne Sweeney, Creative Director at NGC, said “We saw an exciting opportunity in this commission to bring together the skills and expertise of many people. Artist Alec Finlay came up with the concept and the idea of planting an orchard with a barrel of glass apples at its centre. I’m delighted that we’ve been able to utilise the skills of those who worked at the Hartley Wood factory and they, in turn, have generously shared their experience and knowledge with NGC’s hot glass studio team. I’m very proud of this project, which I believe serves as a real model of good practice.”
As part of the project, forty residents from the Estate will be getting free apple trees, suitable for their gardens. Each resident who claims an apple tree will also receive a unique glass apple, hand-crafted at the National Glass Centre, as a celebration of the project.
Lauren Mackenzie is one of the residents who will receive a tree, “Me and my partner have just had a baby and it would be lovely to watch the baby and the tree grow. The orchard will be beautiful and we look forward to this project beginning.”
The apple orchard will be planted on Tuesday 30 March, when residents will also be able to collect their free apple tree. The centre-piece barrel will then be installed in May during a celebration day when residents will be able to collect their glass apples.
See more images of the project in our photo gallery