ÓR questions the use and value of land, diversity and rewilding.
Collaborative Project with artist Helena Doyle
Photography: Helena Doyle & Aoife Herriott
Costume / Furze Collar : Helena Doyle
Performance at Woodlandsymposium, April 2023
In former times, Gorse or Furze was considered to enhance the value of land. Today it is more or less regarded as weed that landowners want to get rid of. ÓR brings back the beauty of gorse into a wasteland of a former Sitka Spruce monoculture. The beautiful collar in form of a cartwheel ruff was created by artist Helena Doyle. During the Renaissance wearing a huge ruff indicated wealth, prestige and status as manual labour wasn't possible. The ruffs were normally white, but if dyed the most popular colour would have been yellow. Creating a ruff out of prickly gorse highlights the value of this plant. The presence of gorse on land was seen as adding to its value. The Civil Survey from 1654 classified furzy land as profitable (Source: Ireland's Trees. Myth, Legend and Folklore, Niall Mac Coitir, The Collin Press 2003).
A similiar view was held in ancient Ireland. The positive attitude to gorse can be put down to its varied uses (fertilizers, fodder for cattle and horses, the wood was used for hurling and walking sticks, Hedges were made of furze and created temporary shelter for animals away from the farm)