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By: David Henckel
This blog documents the development of Transit of Venus, a project by David Henckel, which has been commissioned by In Certain Places. David is one of five artists selected to create new artworks in response to the city of Preston, which will be presented as part of the Guild celebrations in September 2012 – an historic event that takes place once every twenty years. For more information, visit www.incertainplaces.org
# 10 [4 April 2012]
In Certain Places Presentation and The Preston Beer Festival.
Quite a succesful day presenting our ideas to a panel which included Charles Quick and Elaine speight from In Certain Places, Clarissa Corfe from the Castfiled Gallery, Ruth McCullough from AND festival, Stella Hall who is director for Preston Guild and Paul Kelly, Arts Development officer for Lancashire County Council.
I was a bit nervous and frazzled from a few late nights preperation but my project seemed to go down well. I'd come armed with beer so that they could all try some and give feedback on a form which will be part of the project archive kept in the timecapsule trophy.
I really enjoyed listening to everyone elses plans which included a bit of performance from Hannah and Jeni who acted as tour guides in front of the Gates of Paradise in the Harris museum.
It was a shame no one was able to stick around for drinks afterwards as it was the first night of the Preston Beer festival, and the Transit of Venus IPA's first public outing.
Unfortunately it hadn't settled properly and so didn't get drunk that evening.
I spent a large part of the night trying to find a beer I liked and ended up in a fine curry house with 2 other artists.. so not too dissapointing.
On the Saturday of the festival they decided to put the beer on anyway and in Neils word "it was flattened" - This is a good thing!
Weirdly about 2 days later one of barrels in the Real Ale Shop cleared and I was able to take my good friend Jim along to try some. We had a small sampling of each of Arkwright's Ales and then 2 swift halves of Transit Ale before staggering home.. It tasted really good and I was excited that we would be selling some in The Continental (one of the finest pubs in Preston by the River Ribble next to Avenham park)
Well, its not cleared.. apparently this is to do with the proteins and not the yeast.. so its perfectly drinkable. Neil says its a bit like a wheat beer and that in the 1700's they wouldn't of worried about being able to see through it.
So I've designed a new pump clip on Gary the cellarmans reccomendation that celebrates the cloudiness. This first batch is now called 1769 - the date columbus sailed to Tahiti.
I'll be checking up on it this weekend to see how its going down.
I've also been helping out with a bit of design and marketing for Arkwright's brewery and redesigned their logo and labels/pump clips for their beer.
We are going to have a tasting event on the 27th April which will be part of the North West Visual Arts Open 2012.
The next batch of Transit Ale is being brewed this week and Neil and John reckon that Jim the brewer has tweaked the recipe so that it should clear properly.
# 9 [4 March 2012]
Finished the poster for The Transit of Venus Real Ale Competition.
Also had a taste of the beer which is fermenting at the moment. Its already tasting good and fruity so we are hoping its going to be a tasty beer when its ready.
# 8 [2 March 2012]
All the ingredients have arrived and I've been nipping in and out of the Real Ale shop helping out with the brewing process.
I've managed to set the date for The inaugral Transit of Venus Real Ale competition. 3pm Monday 4th June in the school grounds of the CofE primary school in Much Hoole. They are having an event called "Band in the Park" and kindly allowed me to join the celebrations.
Put an advert in Ale Cry. the West Lancashire CAMRA magazine which goes out to most pubs. so hopefully we'll get quite a few entries.
# 7 [18 February 2012]
Had a great meeting on Thursday night with Charles and Elaine from In Certain Places to discuss how the project is going.
Here's a quick run down of where I'm at.
- Brewing a 7.1% IPA early next week which should be ready for The Preston Beer Festival (15th March - 19th March)
- Contacted CAMRA about the project and also Northern Craft Brewers
- discussing the idea of a Science Bar which will be open for the duration of the Guild, this would be the perfect setting for a TOV ale. We are planning a series of events for the bar. Lectures, Chemistry magic shows, films, bands. The idea is inspired by the History of the Univesrity and its timeline going back to Horrocks. Especially the Society for The Diffusion of knowledge
- Whilst thinking about how to archive the recipe I decided its probably more interesting and engaging to run a Transit of Venus Real Ale Competition
The Transit of Venus Real Ale Competition
I love the idea that I'll never know if its recreated - but would like to give it a good chance.
So the new idea is to have a Transit of Venus Real Ale Competition. The winner will have their name engraved on a special trophy (reminiscent of 70's pub Darts Trophies - my Nana had a few). The Trophy will have small metal plaques with the dates for the next 1000 years worth of transits with space for future winners.
The central column will be like a time capsule and the winning recipes will be stored there. I invisage that the Trophy will be on display either at the Harris Museum fro the duration of the Preston Guild 2012 in September or at The Science Bar - I am in discussions with The Continental pub and They Eat Culture as collaborators.
In relation to the Real Ale competition I was wondering if it could be held in Much Hoole - some of the residents could be on the judging panel? I can't decide if the competition should be on June 5th or earlier. I'd like the winning ale to be professionally produced and it could be 1 of 3 ales in the box set.
- whilst being shown around the temperance society archives I realised that what stands out are the objects - I was shown Joseph Livesys football rattle. This was also the case at The Harris when I was shown some material relating to Moses Holden. So it seems only right that to stand any chance of setting up a tradition that there is an object and its made of something that won't perish and that the object contains the information.
# 6 [14 February 2012]
I've been speaking to a guy in the USA - Chuck Bueter who is producing a real ale for the TOV as well,
He collaboarted with a brewery for the tRansit in 2004 and is also making a wine and a coffee which will be called The Black Drop.
I'd mentioned to him about using The Black Drop Effect as a name for one of the TOV ales (considering making 3)
The website that he posts on, which is edited by Steven Van der Roode) has an amazing archive of transit observations around the world.
I wonder if all these places would like to buy our beer?
# 5 [14 February 2012]
I've just sent an email to CAMRA ( the campaign ro real Ale) to enquire about ways they can help promote the collaborative project with Arkwrights brewery. Also to get their feedback about the project and test the water regarding having them keep the recipe archive for the future.
Heres a link to their site with a quick synopsis of how Ale is made
since sending this email I came across The northern craft brewers.
I've sent a similar email to try and gather support and hopefully use their network to get the message out about a potential brewing competition for the TOV.
# 4 [14 February 2012]
Moving closer to making some beer. the guys at The Real Ale Shop who run Arkwrights brewery have sourced some yeast that will allow us to brew our 7.1% IPA.
"It's a Belgium yeast will got upto 7.5% quite easilyand has been known to reach 11.5%. It is used in some of the Trappist beers, the guy I spoke to about it really recommended it, he said it will give the beer an English Fruity taste and do a good job bringing the flavor and aroma out of the hops." - Neil Murphy
# 3 [12 February 2012]
A Real Ale for The Transit of Venus
This idea has been brewing for a while now (sorry).
So I've been looking into the Transit of Venus since early last year. The Horrocks observatory is a few minutes away from me on Moor Park - I've been trying to get access to it and after many failed attempts I think I've found someone who can get me in to have a look.
The inspiartion for the ale came from reading about Captain Cook and his journey to Tahiti to observe a transit of venus... to be completey honest I thought he'd taken lots of lemons on board as an experiment to combat scurvy. It turns out it was Saurkraut. I guess I have real ale on the mind quite a bit. I've helped serve at a few real ale festivals at the Continental (one of the finest pubs in Preston) and there is a real ale shop on Lovat rd which is just round the corner from my house. I'd been discussing the idea of getting them to make an ale for an exhibition.
So I think these thoughts collided and beacme one idea for a Transit Ale with a lemony twang.
What I'd like to do is make a real ale which can only be drunk in a year when there is a Trasnit of Venus - so twice every 120+ years. I'm hoping that The Harris museum and Art Gallery, Lancashire records office and UCLAN will keep the recipe in their archives until the next transit.
I really like the idea of starting a tradition, but I especially enjoy the thought that I'll never know if it ever becomes one. A bit like people who design parks and gardens never seeing the finished result. Also the possibility of a celebration that is goverened by the planets. This seems to tie in nicely with the Preston Guild. In fact its the only time the 2 events have happened in the same year.. need to figure out when they are next likey to coincide.
I'm hoping that we are going to start brewing the first prototype Ale next week. I've been visiting the Real Ale Shop every week and discussing it with them. They found a recipe for an IPA (India Pale Ale) from the 1700's - its 7.1%abv. If all goes well it will be ready for the Preston beer festival - happens in March
# 2 [15 January 2012]
Yesterday I went to visit the parish church of St. Michaels which is where Horrocks went to fulfill his spiritual duties. His observations of the transit were interrupted 3 times so that he could attend to what he reffered to as matters of greater importance. The church is just round the corner from Carr House where it is believed he observed the transit.
I was very fortunate to get into the church as I'd not booked ahead. Luckily there was a confirmation class just finishing as I arrived and I met Eric Barker the Church warden outside and he kindly showed me round and introduced me to The Vicar.
Its a beautfiul place, very small and therefore really warm and intimate, a lot cosier than any church I've ever been in. The stained glass which was the main reason for my visit was perfectly lit by one of the sunniest days of the year so far.
The warden and the Vicar allowed me to wander round and take as many photos as I wanted and every now and again dropped in a few facts about the building including where Horrocks would of sat.
There are various tributes to Horrocks and the transit in the church that have built up over the years. Above the altar the stained glass window contains a panel of Horrocks observing the transit and just to the left of the pulpit another two panes including one which commemorates the transit of 2004. that year saw a lot of activity in Much Hoole with scientists coming from all over the world to observe it and celebrate Horrocks achievment. This year, although there will be a lot of attention given to Much Hoole most Astronomers will be going to Tahiti, where Captain Cook obserevd the transit or Hawaii. The Pacific region has the best chance for viewing the last transit of our lifetime.
As well as the stained glass there is a carved inscription hung on one of the walls. Outside on the bell tower is another carved inscription and a sundial.
Eric told me that they are collecting money for a flag and a windvane so that there is an outward symbol that signifies the importance of Horrocks observations.
There have been a few booklets produced about the church, Carr House and Horrocks and after a good nosy round the vicar gave me some to take home.
I'm hoping to visit Carr House (privately owned) soon as Eric can provide an introduction to the current owners.
It was really good to get a sense of place as most of the research I've been conducting has been through books and the internet.
I have some idea of what I think I want to make for this project (More of that in the next post), but I'm intending to spend a few more months gathering information, thinking things over and playing around with ideas.
# 1 [3 January 2012]
I'm thrilled to be one of five artists commisioned by In Certain Places to make a piece of work that will be shown during Preston Guild 2012. I met all the other artists in December 2011 where we had a chance to talk about our work and any ideas we had for this project. We are all at different stages of development and there are a wide range of ideas and approaches, it should be a really fascinating and inspiring journey.
I'm going to be making work based upon research into the Transit of Venus (when we can observe the planet Venus moving across the face of the sun) which occurs June 5th/6th 2012. Currently the transits occur twice in every approximately 113 years, with the two transits separated by 8 years. The most recent being 2004
It is of specific significance to Preston as the first recorded observation happened in Much Hoole (just outside Preston) by Jeremiah Horrocks in 1639. The Astrophysics department at the University of Central Lancashire is named after him (The Jeremiah Horrocks institute) and until recently they used an observatory on Preston's Moor park.
The Transit of Venus was used to calculate the Astronomical unit, which is the distance from the earth to the sun - all other distances in the Universe depend upon it. In the 18th Century this was seen as the last great problem in astronomy and was deemed so important that countries who were technically at war collaborated in this international scientific experiment. Captain Cook was sent on his first voyage to the Pacific by the Royal Society to observe the Transit from the island of Tahiti. Other astronomers travelled to Africa and throughout Europe to time the exact instant of transit.
I'll be using this blog to document my research and progress of the project.
For further information about In Certain Places, the Guild, and our fellow artists follow the links below...
http://incertainplaces.org/home (Twitter: @incertainplaces)
http://www.a-n.co.uk/artists_talking/projects/sing... Hannah Elizabeth Allan and Jeni McConnell
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Mulitdisciplinary artist interested in revealing unintentionally collaborative activity.