Recall the unique flora that surrounds us.
The Hauts-de-France region is home to a large number of 19th century industries, offering a unique material heritage anchored in our memories. Its various manufactures (particularly mining and textile) are already well represented and valued through museums and landscapes (terril) that punctuate the region.
For this residency project, we wanted to highlight another aspect of the territory : its flora. Endemic species make the richness and specificity of a region. This botanical heritage is often little known to the public, yet it contributes greatly to the cultural identity of a region. The Hauts-de-France presents a number of specimens, more or less rare, but nevertheless specific to its territory.
Our idea is to remind and mark the unique flora that surrounds us, especially as the Ecomuseum of the Avesnois is located in a regional natural park.
Among the various endemic species of the Hauts-de-France, we chose to focus on wild hops, which are naturally found in cool, wet and waterside places, especially in the heart of the regional natural park of the Avesnois, in the forest of Mormal. The presence of this characteristic plant also explains the development and attachment for beer, cultural and touristic heritage of the region.
Hops are herbaceous, perennial and climbing plants of the family of Cannabaceae, that can grow to a height of 10 meters, like lianas.
The species is easily recognizable by its leaves, reminiscent of the vine, as well as its hanging cones evoking wheat ears or pine cones. The hop’s stem wraps around a tree, always in a counter-clockwise direction. The plant is perennial, its lifespan being greater than 20 years : every year roots emit new stems.
It’s a dioecious plant, in other words it is at the same time a female and a male plant. Female flowers of hops (cones) are the ones used in medicine and for the manufacture of beer.
In September-October, if you look inside the leaves that make up these cones, you can distinguish one of the constituents of hops : lupulin, a resinous yellow-gold oil with a strong odor and a bitter taste. It’s commonly referred to as "brewer's gold".
Hops are indeed an essential ingredient for local breweries. Grown on several meters high stakes, it is used to aromatize beer, to give it a bitterness, to stabilize it, and also to improve its conservation. It’s said that "if malt is the marrow of beer, hops are the soul".
This plant is also used for decoration, which is less known : it’s notably exposed and suspended in local estaminets, recalling a true brewing tradition. And its long stems also allow braiding : hops are used for wild basketry.
From these uses, these stories, these cultural, traditional and regional specificities, we worked on a series of four vases:
- suspended hops in the estaminets (Tulipe) ;
hops as an ingredient to craft beer :
- reinterpret the bock accompanied by his coaster (Chope),
- reinterpret the mug with lid (Bock),
objects to taste and enjoy it ;
- hops used in wild basketry (Calice).
Through this medium that is glass, we wanted to transcribe this "green gold", this regional floral heritage. Each vase incorporates constituents of hops and its uses : the superposition found on hop cones (successive layers of leaves), the handles found on mugs (emblematic beer glasses), or the collars, which are like an extension of the vase, evoking hops as a perennial, climbing and invasive plant.