The glass barrel and Hartley Wood estate
50 apples (for Hartley Wood) was a unique public art and community project with Alec Finlay and NGC, commissioned by Gentoo. The artwork consists of a traditional wooden barrel containing glass apples placed at the centre of Hartley Wood Estate in Sunderland.
The feature sits at the centre of a small orchard, developed in the communal landscaped area at the centre of the Estate. Each tree will bear a different variety of English apple. By autumn, the trees will have produced a crop of apples of varying tastes, textures and colours.
Each glass apple in the barrel is handcrafted and coloured to replicate the real apples produced by the orchard and the trees planted in residents’ gardens as part of the project. All the glass apples have been sculpted from molten glass at the National Glass Centre using traditional glass making techniques by former Hartley Wood glass makers and the NGC Glass Studio team.
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.
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.
Artist Alec Finlay came up with the concept and the idea of planting an orchard with a barrel of glass apples at its centre. Grainne Sweeney, NGC’s Creative Director said, “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.”
Forty residents from the Estate were given a unique glass apple, hand-crafted at the National Glass Centre, and an apple tree to plant in their own garden, to commemorate the project.
All photos: Colin Davison
See more pictures from the installation of 50 apples (for Hartley Wood) in our photo gallery
Find out more about Alec Finlay