Art: Mad as a box of apples

The Land We Live In – The Land We Left Behind. Hauser & Wirth, Bruton, Somerset until 7 May

Dressed as an apple tree and sitting in an apple store, artist Marcus Coates answers apple-related questions at the Hauser & Wirth Somerset gallery in Bruton. The installation is part of The Land We Live In – The Land We Left Behind, a big survey exhibition there running until 7 May, 2018. It features work by more than 100 artists from the 1500s to the present. They include Beatrix Potter, William Holman Hunt, Frank Lloyd Wright, Mark Wallinger and Giuseppe Arcimboldo.

Coates’ Apple Service Provider conversations take place in Anchorhold, a geometric wooden structure designed by the architect Sutherland Hussey Harris. It is a modern take on the cells used by the medieval hermits evoked in Chris Newby’s brilliant 1993 film The Anchoress. Coates has repurposed the structure as an apple store where he holds one-on-one performances, which are audio-recorded and played back during the exhibition.

Coates comes down to Somerset, where the zider apples grow

Coates shares his surname with a famous but defunct brand of cider made in Nailsea, Somerset starting in 1788. The brand’s TV advertising in the 1960s featured a catchy folkish song with the words ‘Coates comes up from Somerset, where the cider apples grow.’

A Pathe news film from 1967 shows the factory and – added bonus – Adge Cutler and the Wurzels playing Drink up thee Cider. Coates used to name its vats after West Country celebrities. Adge’s vat ended up at Inch’s in Winkleigh, Devon at about the same time as the poor old Bard of Avonmouth perished.

Adge’s music might have been cod folk but there are worse things. Masochists wanting to hear someone really doing GBH (gentrification badly handled) to a half-decent song can listen to Benjamin Luxon draining the juice from Up from Somerset by Fred Weatherly, the man who penned Danny Boy and 3000 more ditties.

Coates Cider was bought by Showerings of Shepton Mallet in 1956 and later merged with Gaymers before being absorbed by Matthew Clark Brands. Photographer Paul Townsend has written a good, brief history of Coates cider to go with his pictures online.

Hauser & Wirth Somerset,  Bruton, Somerset BA10 0NL, is open Tuesdays to Sundays, 10 am to 5pm. The Land We Live In – The Land We Left Behind’ runs until 7 May, 2018

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