John Barleycorn Must Die - New Exhibition


Saturday 15th June-Sunday 25th August 2019
Open Mon-Sat 9am-5pm, Sun 10am-4pm




The exhibition brings together a collection of work by artist Matt Rowe and accompanying research materials gathered in collaboration with curator Laura Mansfield. The artefacts and artworks reflect upon the story and tradition of John Barleycorn. Appearing in a 17th Century English folk song of the same name, John Barleycorn is the personification of barley and its associated food and drink. The lyrics detail the lifecycle of barley from grain to harvest to bread and beer and the seemingly indestructible spirit of the crop. Meeting, socialising and working with individuals in the locality of New Brewery Arts Matt has developed a number of collaborative works which re-consider the John Barleycorn myth and its resonance within contemporary Cirencester.

Local hurdy-gurdy player Mike Smith has recorded a version of John Barleycorn Must Die which will be played live during the opening & appear as a soundtrack to throughout the exhibition’s duration.
Cirencester based craft brewers Corinium Ales have produced a new brew using Chevallier malt, a heritage variety of barley that is seeing a contemporary revival in the brewing industry.
Open source mapping data on agricultural land surrounding Cirencester has been used in a Virtual Reality gaming environment where players can search for the spirit of John Barleycorn.
Richard Baddily, Carol Partridge, Antony Gay and Members of The Guild of Straw Craftsmen have loaned examples of traditional corn dollies for display within the exhibition.


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