Back to the Fields

Installation including plants, bones, agricultural tools and minerals, dimensions variable, 2015/2016

Originally produced for Camden Arts Centre and then shown during Incerteza Viva, 32nd Bienal de São Paulo.

Back to the Fields brings to life the French Republican Calendar.

In use from 1793 until 1805, the calendar temporarily redefined and rationalised the Gregorian Calendar, stripping it of all religious references in post-revolutionary France. Months and weeks were restructured and seasons and days renamed in collaboration with artists, poets and horticulturalists to reflect nature and agriculture.

Bringing together all 360 items used to denote the days of the year – such as a lettuce, a cart, wax, a turnip, honey, a fir tree, ivy, figs, mercury, lava, moss, tuna, a pheasant, an axe – the installation becomes a tangible calendar. The title of the installation comes from the original title of the French folk song Il Pleut, Il Pleut, Bergère (It Rains, It Rains, Shepherdess) written by the Republican Calendar collaborator, Fabre d’Églantine, who allegedly recited the song’s lyrics calmly at his own execution.

Installed at Camden Arts Centre

Events at Camden Arts Centre

At Camden Arts Centre a series of events were programmed to reflect the five or six Sanculottides (complimentary or festival days), guests to responded to the days – Virtue, Talent, Labour, Conviction, Honour and Revolution through discussion, performance and magic.

10 Ventôse CCXXIII

Celebrating the French Republican Calendar’s Sanculottides (complimentary or festival days), Ruth Ewan invited guests to respond to the days – Virtue, Talent, Labour, Conviction, Honour and Revolution with an afternoon of discussion, performance and magic.

Speakers and performers included Dr Sanja Perovic, senior Lecturer in French at Kings College London introducing the Sanculottides; writers and anarchist bakers Molly Conisbee and Ruth Potts of  Bread, Print & Roses who presented Virtue and Labour; Socialist Magician Ian Saville as Talent and Practice Based Researcher, Sophie Hope on Conviction. Ruth Ewan also presented her performance work A Child’s Catechism in response to the day Revolution.