Steve Barron on hemp

22.12.20. Internet

Usually on Material Matters I speak to a combination of designers, architects, artists or makers. This episode is a little bit different.

Steve Barron is a multi-award winning movie and television director, who made his name in the eighties with a slew of iconic videos featuring artists such as: Michael Jackson, Dire Straits, A-ha, Madonna, Paul McCartney, David Bowie and The Jam to name just a few. Subsequently, he segued into films – directing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Coneheads, and Mike Bassett: England manager – as well as the small screen, with recent credits including The Durrells on the BBC.

However, in 2016 he established Margent Farm on a 53-acre site in the Cambridgeshire countryside where he grows hemp – a rather magical but misunderstood crop, which has an array of possible uses and the potential to change all our lives for the better. Not only that but he used the crop as the key material to build his own farm house, designed by Practice Architecture.

In this episode we talk about: deciding to farm hemp in the first instance; its potential as a building material, in cooking, and for the fashion world; persuading the government of hemp’s import; why it should not be confused with Marijuana; Steve’s early career working with the likes of A-ha; and making the groundbreaking Billie Jean video with a certain Michael Jackson.

It’s eclectic stuff.  

Find out more about Margent Farm

The house on Margent Farm was designed by Practice Architecture and is clad with hemp tiles.

Hempcrete was used in the walls, providing great insulation. Barron says that he ’grew his own house’.

This is another building on the site that uses hemp in its construction. Barron opened the farm in 2016.