Gabrielle Hoad

Salt-cat (keeps them at home) | 2020 | Found text and objects, bird rings

This site-specific installation examines changing perceptions of home at the time of the 2020 pandemic. Taking as its starting point a 19th-century dovecote at Hestercombe House in 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. Its ingredients included gravel, lime, saltpetre and stale urine.

Utilising disused Perspex pigeonholes in a vestibule open to Hestercombe's gardens, 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.

Made with Megan Calver, Salt-cat was commissioned for Open-Up (2020) at Hestercombe Gallery, 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.