Salt-cat (keeps them at home) (2020)

with Gabrielle Hoad
found text and objects, bird rings
Salt-cat (keeps them at home)
Photos: CalverHoad ©

This site-specific work examines changing perceptions of home at the time of the 2020 pandemic, in relation to the 19th century dovecote at Hestercombe House, Somerset. The work includes a series of historic text fragments relating to salt-cat, a type of cake made by pigeon breeders to entice their birds to stay or return home. Supposedly imbued with charms, its ingredients included gravel, lime, saltpetre and stale urine.

Utilising disused Perspex pigeonholes in a vestibule open to the garden, the piece was installed with minimal disturbance to existing inhabitants of the space ‐ leaving in place their dust, debris, webs, cocoons, moults, droppings and other remains as part of the work.

Salt-cat was commissioned for Open-Up (2020), alongside works by Sarah Bennett, Jon England, Jo Lathwood, Philippa Lawrence and Lucy Soni. It accompanies a major new outdoor commission by Richard Long: Jackdaw Line.