'Company' links east London’s history of ‘going down to Kent’ with the ambition to set up a community drinks-making enterprise, constructing new collective and productive public realm.
Between the early 1800’s and the 1950’s, up to 250,000 working-class east Londoners – mainly women and children – would leave the city each summer for temporary seasonal work harvesting fruit and hops in Kent. This ‘working holiday’ in the countryside offered income, fresh air and temporary independence from city life.
Company. Movements, Deals and Drinks revisits the hop picking history of London’s East End and connects and reconnects different communities, places and processes involved: land, agriculture, harvest, processing and consuming. The long-term objective is to establish a new cultural and economic enterprise which incorporates values and aspects from the “old hop-picking days” but allows for roles, shares and potentials to be altered.
In 2015 Company Drinks registered as a Community Interest Company and offers a year-round public programme across the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, including picking trips, processing workshops, bottling and branding sessions, trading outlets, bars and social and cultural event.
Looking at an example of community development, and their movements due to urban projects, 'Company' looks at reconnecting and strengthening exchanges as well as sustainable living and trade within and through social exchanges.
This unique urban-rural relationship and culture survives vividly in the memories of those who went, and is the starting point for Company: Movements, Deals and Drinks. The project revisits the lived culture and shared history of the ‘picking days’ whilst extending the collective labour process further to complete a whole cycle of production, trade and reinvestment into a new kind of company within and ever changing urban landscape.
Company Drinks proposes a new approach to public space production and construction, using a localised but dispersed network of existing spaces in order to construct a new collective and productive public realm.
Kathrin Böhm is a London-based artist with a long-standing interest in the collaborative making and extending of public spaces through methods of collective production, distribution and usage. Böhm is the leading artist on Company: Movements, Deals and Drinks.