Patches of blue sky is a project by artist Jo Ball exploring the relationship people have with plants, land and the natural environment. Over the summer of 2016 people will be invited to grow flax which the artist will use to make linen thread. Primarily taking place in West Coker, Somerset, the invitation to grow flax will extend beyond the village.
Flax can be grown as an agricultural crop or ornamental annual. Taking one hundred days from germination to harvest, individual flowers exist for one day only, a succession of flowers on each plant will create brief patches of sky blue.
Flax was grown and processed in the UK for centuries until industrial progress and cultural events made them less competitive and other crops took their place. The land around West Coker was particularly suited to growing flax and was once famous for its ‘Coker canvas’, a woven cloth used to make sails for the navy (and pirates!) during the Napoleonic war. Flax was grown for centuries until industrial progress and cultural events made it less competitive and other crops took its place. The project aims to revisit the tradition of growing flax in West Coker and the artist will make linen twine from the plants harvested.