John Barleycorn Must Die

A collection of work by artist Matt Rowe and accompanying research materials gathered in collaboration with curator Laura Mansfield, this exhibition reflects upon the story and tradition of John Barleycorn through associated artefacts and artworks.

John Barleycorn is the personification of the barley and its associated food and drink. The lyrics of the 17th Century English folk song in which John Barleycorn originally appeared detail the lifecycle of barley from grain to harvest to bread and beer, and the seemingly indestructible spirit of the crop. Meeting, socialising and working with individuals in the locality of New Brewery Arts, Matt has developed a number of collaborative works reexamining the John Barleycorn myth and its resonance within contemporary Cirencester.

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