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Last Updated: Monday, 25 October, 2004, 09:35 GMT 10:35 UK
Church transformed into vineyard
St John's Church Chatham, courtesy Medway Council
The grapes will be used to produce two or three cases of wine
A disused church in Kent has been converted into a vineyard as part of an innovative art project.

Installation artist John Newling hopes that by growing grapes in the nave of St John's Church in Chatham, it will symbolise local regeneration efforts.

Over the next 12 months, 30 Pinot Noir vines will be grown in the central aisle of the 19th-century church.

The transformation of the grapes into wine will act as a metaphor for change in Chatham, said Mr Newling.

Communion wine

Once bottled, a portion of the wine will be offered to the Diocese of Rochester for consecration and used in communion.

Chatham Vines project manager Pauline Scott-Garrett said: "It's difficult to see growth and change when it's happening very slowly all around, and that's what the regeneration of Chatham will be like.

"Change doesn't happen overnight but, like our vines, from small beginnings will come great things."

The vines - which should produce sufficient grapes for two or three cases of wine - are being nourished using hydroponics technology.

Live webcam

Instead of being grown in soil, water and nutrients are pumped into and drained from the plants' containers each day.

A section of lighting running the length of a steel trellis erected in the church's central aisle provides artificial daylight.

Three live webcams inside St John's will enable visitors to follow the project, which was commissioned by Medway Council and funded by the Arts Council England.

As part of a related education programme, a musician will also be working with pupils from Chatham Primary School to write a piece of music for the Chatham Vines project.

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