Fuggles Writes (An Autumn Draft)

In March 2010, Brook & Black were appointed artists-in-residence on Plot 16 at the Lenthall Road Allotments Association, as part of the Modern Art Oxford’s Art in Rose Hill programme. Brook & Black grew fuggles hops on Plot 16, and in so doing they made a connection between Plot 16 and the history of the building of Modern Art Oxford as a brewery. With The Shotover Brewing Company, Brook & Black created a limited edition green hops beer, Plot 16: The Fermenting Room. This text was commissioned by Brook & Black and first published on http://ixia-info.com/new- writing/plot-16-the-fermenting-room-return-of-the-rhizome-brook-black/

Following my site-writing practice, where I try to write sites rather than write about them – to perform, through writing, the qualities of a particular site and my engagement with it – here my writing tries to be like a rhizome in continuing to spread the nexus of connections already made by Brook & Black in Plot 16: The Fermenting Room between the sites of the main building of Modern Art Oxford, the allotment in Rose Hill, the source of the fuggles rhizome and the drinkers enjoying the taste of the beer somewhere else. Of all the possible sites and experiences of hop-growing and – picking, beer-making and -drinking, geographically, historically, socially and culturally, this writing re-arranges some words from at least six.

Fuggles are rhizomes, and rhizomes feature as the key conceptual figure in the post-structuralist philosophy of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari and their argument for representational multiplicity through writing as a mapping. In ‘Introduction: Rhizome’, the first chapter of Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus, they outline the six principles of their concept of the rhizome, namely: connectivity, heterogeneity, multiplicity, asignifying rupture, cartography, and decalcomania. [this text is in italic font] These terms operate as key figures in their critique of capitalism and psychoanalysis, in which the practice of writing as mapping experiments with nomadic thought as part of their bigger philosophical project of connecting difference.

Three very specific and different historical accounts of hop-growing are included. The first comes from Arthur Young, The farmers’ calendar (1827). This published almanac of a nineteenth-century farmer outlines – as a series of instructions – the tasks to be carried out on a monthly basis in the hop-field. [this text is in semi-bold font] The second is George Orwell’s novel A Clergyman’s Daughter (1937), written almost 100 years later. Based on the 17 days he spent hop-picking in Kent in 1935, Orwell provides a detailed description of the experience of the hop-field and the labour of hop-picking, as under-paid, gruelling but at times pleasurable work carried out by working-class Londoners, as well as gypsies, tramps and itinerant agricultural labourers, in the Kent countryside during the summer months between the wars and until the 1960s. Orwell’s novel tells the story of the daughter of a clergyman, Dorothy Hare, living in a small town in East Anglia, who, following an attack of amnesia, finds herself on the Old Kent Road where a group of vagrants find her and take her with them hop-picking in Kent. The memory loss releases Dorothy from her usual identity, and

for her time in the hop-fields, she is able to enjoy the sensuality as well as the physical exhaustion of hop-picking. [this text is in bold font] The third specific account of hop-growing is based on my own experience of hops, witnessed by walking through the fields in which they grow, and drinking the beers that can be brewed out of them. Leaving home near the Old Kent road, and travelling by train out of London Bridge, my Sunday walks with my partner – a man of Kent being born east of the Medway – have taken us through many miles of hop-field to end the day with a pint of beer, possibly, I realise now, of fuggles. [this text is in regular front]

As visceral in tone, but drawn from a very different source, are the words used to convey the taste of different beers containing fuggles – wet, flowery, juicy, leafy, grassy – that I extracted from a contemporary home-growers tasting web site, www.ratebeer.com. [this text is in bold italic font] Fuggles is an English-cultivated variety of hop and in the world of beer-making its specific taste is related to its genetic origins and to the environment – soil and climate – in which it is grown. Many of the discussions which take place today between specialist beer-makers concerning the specificities of hop varieties and their relation to the sites of their origin are found on the web, for example, this is the one I read, www.homebrewtalk.com – another example of a rhizomatic site of writing. [this text is in semi-bold italic font]

Jane Rendell, ‘Fuggles: An Autumn Draft’, Peg Rawes, Stephen Loo and Tim Matthews (eds) Poetic Biopolitical Practices in the Arts and Humanities (London: I B Tauris, 2016).

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