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Metal Harvest LAB and commissions call-out

Overview of project

Arts organisation Metal is working in partnership with international artists Lucy + Jorge Orta (Studio Orta) to realise an 18 month programme of public events, publications and exhibition based on the theme of Harvest. In September 2015, Lucy + Jorge will stage their first large-scale outdoor meal in the UK as part of their ‘7 x 70 The Meal’ series. The Harvest celebration weekend will take place in the historic Cathedral Square in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire. At its centre will be a dinner for 500 people and a ritual procession of local bakers, gardeners, farmers, dancers, and musicians giving thanks to the land. Offerings will be made to celebrate the festival through the sharing of food, conversation and song. A farmers market will recreate the tradition that ran in the Square from the 12th century through to the 1960s. A mass evening ceilidh and 100 Morris dancers will welcome in the Harvest Moon. This will be a publicly engaging weekend of art that reinvigorates and transforms the ancestral ritual of Harvest.


The LAB commissions

Metal wish to commission up to 10 artists (open to all disciplines) based in the UK to realise a number of smaller commissions that will contribute to a Harvest festival weekend. The artists will work alongside Metal and Studio Orta to curate the commissions into a coherent weekend programme. The commissions, where appropriate, should include community -engagement, whether through research, collaboration or the sharing of skills through workshop activity. Whilst the range of artists’ proposals will emerge through the LAB process, potential commissions could focus around street or table decorations, costumes for ritual procession , choreographing the ‘offering’ parade or other ritual ‘happenings’ or interventions linked to the theme.

Skills requirements: track record of socially engaged practice with experience of working in collaboration with communities and audiences, with potential interest in heritage craft, local ritual traditions, and/or different cultural traditions associated with harvest, agriculture and the land.


How It Will Work

Selected artists will be required to attend a Research and Development LAB at Metal in Peterborough (Tuesday 19th May – Friday 22nd May 2015). This intensive week will be mentored by lead artist Lucy Orta, artist and curator Simon Poulter, creative producer Sara Black, and director of Museum of British Folklore Simon Costin; alongside staff from Metal to support the project development and planning. The cohort will also travel to Paris (Tuesday 2nd June – Thursday 4th June) to visit Studio Orta, to meet with Lucy + Jorge Orta for a studio tour of Les Moulins, and further development discussions.

Following the LAB, the selected artists will have three months development time to complete their commissions ready for presentation at the September festival. A further group feedback session is scheduled for Wednesday 15th July. Metal staff will provide support to each artist throughout the process, making links to local community groups and offering access to their facilities if required.



Each artist will receive a fee of £3,000. A small materials budget and technical support can be bid for as the proposals develop through the LAB process. All accommodation, travel and expenses will be covered for the LAB week in Peterborough, the trip to Paris and the peer crit session. Any other expenses linked to personal research trips, or delivery of workshops etc. will need to be covered by the artist as part of their fee.


Timetable and Deadline for applications

If you are interested in this opportunity, please send 5 images of your work, a CV and supporting statement (no more than 1 side of A4) outlining your artistic approach and some suggested areas of interest that could link your practice to the themes, by Wednesday 22nd April to Mark Richards, Director at Metal Peterborough, Chauffeurs Cottage, 1 St Peters Road, Peterborough, PE1 1 YX or email If you require any further information please call Mark Richards on 01733 893077 or email questions. Notification of selected artists will be by Wednesday 29th April.

Applicants must be available to attend the full LAB and the Harvest Festival weekend.

Key dates:

Application Deadline Wednesday 22nd April, 12 noon.

Harvest LAB Tuesday 19th – Friday 22nd May

Studio Orta Paris Visit – Tuesday 2nd – Thursday 4th June

Artist Development Day – 15th July

Harvest Weekend – Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th September 2015


Why a harvest celebration in Peterborough?

Peterborough is the fastest growing city in the UK and as such the land is becoming a contested space with the pressures of housing growth and development expanding onto former farming land. There is potential that the rural traditions and relationships with the land, seasons and local food production will be lost. Peterborough and its surrounding Fen environs in Cambridgeshire were once known as the ‘breadbasket’ of England, with a long agricultural history of supplying the crops and vegetables to feed the nation. The historic marketplace in the city centre (now Cathedral Square) and one of Peterborough’s most notable landmarks, the Guildhall (formerly known as the Buttercross) were built in the 17th century. The Guildhall stands on columns, once providing an open ground floor for the butter and poultry markets which used to be held there, thus making it an ideal location for a Harvest festival weekend.

The City is also very diverse, with 24% of the population born outside of the UK – the City has the only primary school in the country where all of the pupils have English as a second language. Peterborough is home to historic large communities from Italy and Pakistan and new communities from Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Portugal. Each brings their own strong cultural heritage to the city. Whilst racial tension is not an issue, opportunities to create dialogue between the diverse communities is welcomed and has become a focus for many of Metal’s projects. Although not currently celebrated in Peterborough, harvest celebrations are often deep rooted within different cultural traditions and all regularly involve music, dance, shared meals and craft displays, using harvested materials to create elaborate decorations. This project sets out to bring people together in a family orientated weekend that celebrates the land, the different and common rituals and allows people to meet and talk over the breaking of bread.


About Metal

Metal was founded by Jude Kelly OBE in 2002 and was created as an artistic laboratory to champion the need for continual investment in artistic investigation and the development of innovative ideas that could shift the thinking in the UK cultural sector. We provide innovative, multi-disciplinary residency space for artists from the UK and overseas in Liverpool, Southend on Sea and Peterborough.

Alongside providing space for artists and thinkers to develop their ideas and further the philosophy of their work, we are interested in how this artistic process, and the practice of artists can input into, and potentially influence political and social issues of the day. Through our artistic programme we draw out evidence and ideas for a better understanding of the artist’s role in civic life, and ensure that these are shared with a wide and diverse set of partners.  These ideas are showcased and disseminated on a regular basis through residencies, exhibitions, events, performance, discussion and publications.

For information on previous projects and our residencies see


Information about the lead artists and LAB mentors

Lucy + Jorge Orta’s collaborative practice draws upon ecological and social sustainability issues to create artworks employing diverse media, including drawing, sculpture, installation, couture, painting, silkscreen, photography, video and light, as well as staged ephemeral interventions and performances. Amongst their most emblematic series are: Refuge Wear and Body Architecture: portable minimum habitats bridging architecture and dress; HortiRecycling: the food chain in global and local contexts; 70 x 7 The Meal: the ritual of dining and its role in community networking; Nexus Architecture: alternative modes of establishing the social link; The Gift: a metaphor for the heart and the biomedical ethics of organ donation; OrtaWater and Clouds: water scarcity and the problems arising from pollution and corporate control; Antarctica: international human rights and freer international migration; and Amazonia: the value of the natural environment to our daily lives and to our survival.

Simon Poulter is a practising artist and curator based in London. He develops programmes and commissions for a variety of organisations including Metal, Watershed, MAC, FACT and the AND Festival. His practice engages the political aspects of digital culture with a continuing interest in behaviour and propaganda. He develops projects across all 3 Metal sites in Liverpool, Peterborough and Southend. He is currently leading the development of NetPark in Southend, the NESTA/ACE funded world’s first digital art park.

Sara Black is a highly experienced freelance producer and project manager specialising in large scale outdoor public realm commissions. With 17 years’ experience working with international artists on temporary and permanent installations including at Folkestone Triennial (Ian Hamilton-Finlay, Sarah Staton, Gabriel Lester,2014) Liverpool Biennial, NowwhereIsland (Alex Hartley) and director of ProjectBase Cornwall (2004-2012). Sara is currently the freelance Programme Manager for the Chamber of Culture, Metal Peterborough’s professional development strand as part of the Creative People and Places ‘Peterborough Presents’ programme.

Simon Costin has worked as an internationally respected art director and curator. His lifelong passion for Folklore has resulted in the launch of the Museum of British Folklore project. A long-term idea which aims to establish the UK’s first ever centre devoted to celebrating and researching the UK’s rich folkloric cultural heritage. Along with the other members of the team, he is currently engaged on a two year exhibition schedule for the museum and is also writing a book on the customs and traditions of Britain.


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Metal Harvest LAB And Commissions Call-Out