An effigy of Future Machine and a listening bag with intimate soundscapes of Peppard

Objects from Peppard, Oxfordshire

Our planet sits in a ‘Goldilocks zone’, not too near, or too far from our own Sunstar to support life, which began here 3.7 million years ago. A miraculous event creating the only home we have ever known, caught like a speck of dust in a beam of light from our sun in the vastness of space.

Somewhere on that speck of dust, in the ANOB of the Chiltern Hills made of chalk downlands, in the English county of Oxfordshire, sits the small parish of Rotherfield Peppard, the name of which derives from the Anglo-Saxon word for cattle grazing followed by the name of the medieval Manor owners. Evidence of habitation here dates back to Palaeolithic times.

The drawer
Containing drawings of the places, people and guardians with whom we have been making connections and celebrating the astrological spring equinox, drinking hedgerow gin, talking of seasonal edges, time, light, community, biodiversity, climate, conservation the past, present and future with a sense of hope of the things to come, while holding the lessons of the past in mind, for the past three years building a ritual and tradition we hope will continue to evolve over 30 years or until we fall off our perches. The Future Machine has witnessed and collected messages for the future, seen our protected beechwoods and commons, been to school, church and the pub.

Botanical drawings of local plants and seeds in the drawer add to the story of Peppard and the natural objects were collected by Myself and one of the guardians, from a long-standing shared habit of noticing: small natural found treasures, fragile, potent and indispensable to the biodiversity of the place. Presented here with a nod to our chequered history of acquiring and collecting from nature.

The cloche
In 2023, The Future Machine did not visit Peppard to witness the spring equinox. In response, Juliet created an effigy: an object to perpetuate memory, bearing a rough likeness and symbolic resonance. That year it bore witness in place of The Future Machine, travelling Peppard’s lanes and beech woods, provoking conversations about the future with those it met on the way. Reincarnated for the 2024 celebration, it takes on something of an ancient Roman Lares – small sculptures kept in the home or at crossroads, embodying guardian spirits all that happens within their boundaries.

The soundscape
Excerpts from the listening bags – conversation starters, moments of pause or reflection, catalysts for action and inspiration. Made for the first celebration and added to each year in response happenings within the boundaries of the Parish. Including:

The sonified harmonics made by the gases of our sun from data collected satellite Tess, looking for potentially life supporting planets.

Kingwood March dawn chorus: chaffinch, blackbird, robin, nuthatch, raven, bluetit and black cap calls.

Tales of Lesser Celandines, harbingers of spring that cloak the edges of Peppard’s lanes and woods before and after the spring equinox, originally brought over by the Romans.

Sound of Storm Eunice 2022, delaying The Future Machine’s arrival that year.

Recording from The Unicorn pub, social village hub.

Tawney Owl call and response, evening of the equinox 2021.

In 2025 we will celebrate on Kingwood Common, where we are opening glades to promote biodiversity, protecting patches of ancient heath and are uncovering the World War 11 concrete path to make an accessible route into this wild local space.

Juliet Robson

Find out more about when Future Machine Appears In PeppardWhen Winter Turns to Spring.

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