In the corner of Hestercombe’s apple and walnut orchard is a ladder straddling an unassuming tree. This ladder is different to the functional ones used regularly by the gardeners who tend the landscape. It stands as a monument to this time; a documentation of 2020.
Apple trees like many fruit trees need to be grafted to ensure you get the crop you want. Weirdly to plant a seed from your favourite variety does not ensure a tree will grow bearing those particular fruit.
Grafting from its primal definition is to join one part of a tree or plant to another so they become one. This ancient technique attributed to the Persians and developed by the Romans involves diagonal cutting and banding together of two (or more) varieties ensuring the cambium layers marry up. After a time the two sections merge and form one tree, leaving behind a slowly disappearing scar at the base of the trunk.
In British culture ‘to graft’ is a colloquialism referencing hard work often suggestive of manual labour.
Ladders of different forms have regularly made an appearance in Lathwoods practice as she sees them as a symbol of change, desire and aspiration. During the Covid-19 lockdown, Lathwood spent time creating a series of intricate paintings representing imaginary and realistic ladders. These ladders represent the quintessential tools to get over something, to conquer obstacles and shift a view point. A suitable mantra for this point in history. ‘Graft ladder’ consolidates these ideas.