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Flax sowing at Tuppenny Barn

Since hearing that I didn’t get my Arts Council funding I’ve not been sitting around moping. I’ve been very busy working on my project, especially starting to get my plots ready and sowing my crops.

My main partner garden at Tuppenny Barn, Southbourne, West Sussex, (www.tuppennybarn.co.uk) have been very helpful and given me a plot of land to grow my specific plants on, as well as using other plants from around their site, and there is a wide variety to chose from. The main crop I am growing there is flax. Not the type grown by farmers for linseed, which is shorter, but a variety called ‘Marilyn’ which is grown for the long fibres and once processed, a technique called retting, used to produce linen. If all goes well this will be used to make one of the main papers I will use for book making.

I actually went to sow my first crop the afternoon that I heard from ACE, and was the perfect antidote to the bad news. A lovely sunny afternoon, and with help from my mum and Becca Theed from Tuppenny Barn, the plot was lightly dug over and prepared ready to sow the flax. I’m well known for my straight lines and precision in my other work and so this was ideal for me, sowing the seeds in nice straight lines. It was just a pity that I left the instructions on how to do it properly on the kitchen table! However, it all seemed to work well.

2 weeks later I got a message and photo from Becca showing that the seeds had come up. I went back later that week to sow a second batch. I’m not too sure what happened to the first lot, but they came up quite white and weedy, not a nice, healthy green. Now, a few weeks later, both sections are looking healthy, although the first batch are a bit patchy. I’m going back tomorrow to try and sow some more in the gaps. I will also be planting other crops including what I’m calling ‘funky corn’. More news on that soon.

To find out more about Tuppenny Barn here is a great video showing the site and a glimpse of the inside of their new Education Centre, which will host one of my exhibitions in 2015.

The flax seed was kindly donated by www.wildfibres.co.uk. They have a great site with lots of information on how to grow and process the flax, and lots more.