The Brightspace FOUNDATION

Orchard Art Project

Orchard art logo smaller.jpg

The feel-good film Seven years of celebrationthat records the achievements to date of the Orchard Art project, is available to watch on the Brightspace Foundation's website.

The Greek word topia describes a place or localised region.  In 1516, Thomas Moore paired this word with a different one, outopia, meaning "no place" to coin a fresh term, utopia, which expresses the idea of a perfect human existence.

Orchard Art is one of the highlights of my working year because of the opportunity to enter into such places that amplify the balance of perfect human existence.  The sole purpose of engage young people with learning disabilities in an inspirational experience with words and music is rewarded by an overwhelming response of joy, happiness and wonder.  As we tune into the details of the orchard together, we let go of all the thoughts and responsibilities that pertain elsewhere, entering a mindful experience.

One of my favourite things that happened this year was being the first ever to introduce fresh apple juice to a teenager and seeing the look of delight on her face after she drank it.  It is easy to take experience and knowledge for granted, but in working with the young people involved in the Orchard Art programme, I have the opportunity to introduce them to the orchard-topia, opening their imagination, expanding their internal worlds with a healthy experience that fortifies them in every way.

- Helena Cavan, Magdalen College Chapel, Oxford 18 July, 2014 2pm Celebration of Orchards Service:

In 2014 Helena was commissioned to write an Orchard Art Anthem, Shining Orchard After Rain, with the help of children from three schools in Herefordshire.  In preparation for the Lovely Bugs in the Orchard event, which showcases insects and orchards, children at Blackmarston School helped Helena to write a special new verse featuring the insects that they have found in an Orchard.

The new anthem was premiered on 8th July 2016 at Bulls Orchard at Breinton Manor Fruit Farm, Herefordshire.


Helena has become a valued contributing artist with the Orchard Art project and shares passion for orchards and sensitivity to people with learning difficulties. She has led music and compositional workshops in orchards which have all been well received and exceptionally well prepared. Works created by Helena have been important parts of Orchard Art public events in 2013 and 2014 - in Hereford Cathedral, Magdalen College Chapel Oxford and Lyde Court in Herefordshire and have received very positive feedback from members of the wider community. In 2014 new words were written for the hymn For the beauty of the Earth which Helena composed having 'harvested' words and feelings from pupils at three schools for children with learning disabilities. Helena worked with the children with care and patience. The resulting beautiful song called Shining Orchard After Rain will undoubtedly become the anthem of Orchard Art! 

Helena has fully delivered her work within an agreed specification and budget and has gone out of her way to accommodate timings that suited the schools, despite her having to travel long distances. 

In summary, Helena is a giving, creative and sensitive person to collaborate with and has delivered valuable contributions and insights for the Orchard Art project. 

- Dave Marshall, Associate, The Brightspace Foundation