Saxmundham farmer forges ties to Japan

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Published:
2:23 PM September 14, 2022



An art farm based in rural east Suffolk is developing international links with the aim of establishing cultural links with other parts of the world.

Farmer, artist and curator Jason Gathorne-Hardy, of White House Farm, Great Glemham, near Saxmundham, has chosen the county’s cherry-growing heritage as the subject of an exhibition called Suffolk Sakura – the Japanese word for Cherry flower.

Among the visitors to the fair – held in early September – was guest of honor Minister Takeshi Ito of the Japanese Embassy’s Culture and Information Center. The event was also attended by Tomoko Uchimoto from the London office of the Hokkaido Shimbun Press in Japan.


Emma Green, Naoko Abe and Minister Takeshi Ito at White House Farm, Great Glemham
– Credit: Jason-Gathorne-Hardy/Galloper-Sands

The displays of Emma Green’s paintings and silk scarves created by textile artist Jenny Nutbeem were “a real joy” to coordinate, Jason said. “Emma has been painting flowers on cherry blossom trees on the farm for five to six years and Jenny has been creating printed and naturally dyed Sakura scarves since 2021,” he explained.

East Suffolk artist Emma Green painted Jason’s collection of over 50 cherry blossom trees throughout the 2021 and 2022 bloom seasons as part of the Collingwood Ingram Blossom residency.

White House Farm hosts the Alde Valley Spring Festival and the Galloper-Sands Gallery, which showcases the works of many artists. Following the pandemic, Jason decided to develop the farm as a hub for international collaboration.

It has hosted a wide range of international writers as part of an ongoing Writing At Great Glemham residency programme. Among them are John Bengan – recipient of the David TK Wong Fellowship at the University of East Anglia’s School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing – and Nepalese poet and composer Ghan Thapa.

“Having had the chance to work internationally on community-owned development projects, particularly at the intersection of food, cultural heritage and visual arts, it is particularly important to rediscover and rekindle the international relations at the moment – in response to Brexit and post-Covid, in the face of growing environmental and social challenges,” said Mr Gathorne_Hardy.

Journalist and writer Naoko Abe was also the guest of honor at Suffolk Sakura’s last weekend. The author wrote the bestselling biography “Cherry” Ingram – The Englishman Who Saved Japan’s Flowers.


Cherry pie from Wakelyn's Bakery - served at the launch of a Suffolk Sakura

Cherry pie from Wakelyn’s Bakery – served at the launch of a Suffolk Sakura
– Credit: Jason-Gathorne-Hardy/Galloper-Sands

The inspiration for the Suffolk Sakura event was the farm’s cherry orchard, Jason said.

“By chance the trees were most likely planted under the instruction of one of my ancestors in the late 19th century – and this curious and rather magical reality prompted me to further explore the world of cherry blossoms, with the help from Naoko Abe and writer Tim Richardson,” he explained.

“Post-Brexit, fostering cross-cultural and international relationships is particularly important. With the help of Naoko, we are exploring the creation of a cherry park on the farm in honor of a living savior or guardian of the cherries , Mr. Masatoshi Asari from Matsumae in Hokkaido.

“Mr. Asari, like Ingram, seems to be another extraordinary man – a teacher who has devoted much of his life to creating new varieties of ‘Matsumae’ cherries and sharing them around the world in the spirit of peace, mutual understanding and reconciliation.


Shirotae 3 by Emma Green.  Oil on panel

Shirotae 3 by Emma Green. Oil on panel. Shirotae is a cherry blossom
– Credit: Jason-Gathorne-Hardy/Galloper-Sands

“Its varieties include Prunus Matsumae-Fuki (Chocolate Ice) and Prunus Matsumae Shizuka (Fragrant Cloud). We have already grown both varieties on the farm – and hope to welcome many more in the years to come.

He hopes to start planting trees at White House Far this winter – and perhaps create a Matsumae Cherry Park in the future.

The artists’ works can be viewed online at www.galloper-sands.co.uk

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