Monday 25 November 2013

Pantechnicon Show

The Pantechnicon show at ArcadeCardiff is entering its final week.

At a closing event on 7th December, between 2.30 and 5.30 p.m., poets and writers will come to Pantechnicon to engage with the exhibition and respond to it in their various ways, whether by readings, improvisations, lectures, pronouncements, discussions... 

Guests include: Allen Fisher, David Greenslade, Graham Hartill, Anthony Mellors, Chris Paul and Lyndon Davies

Sunday 27 October 2013


Pantechnicon: originally a building intended for the sale of all kinds of artistic work. 
A removal van.
Loosely – a receptacle holding a large number of miscellaneous objects.

For 3 weeks in November I will be based in ArcadeCardiff, re-creating elements of my studio, transported to the retail heart of the capital along with drawing, film and found objects from walks in Wales - especially the black mountains

The objects, often decayed or rusted and broken are potent for me in the way some sacred artefacts might seem to be. They have insinuated themselves into my creative processes, are now an integral part of the picture. These will be exhibited alongside recent paintings and work done during the residency.

In one way my studio could be seen as a kind of pantechnicon, in the sense of a miscellany of variously derived objects. A shopping centre is also a pantechnicon: a receptacle filled with available objects of desire - an intricate manifold of paths and intensities. 

I like their sense of ordered chaos, particularly in more organically evolved conglomerations such as markets, bazaars and pre-globalised and homogenised highstreets. 
The intermingling of banality and mystery, the jarring of codes, the moments of incomprehension, even stupefaction.

I am interested in the kinds of juxtaposition my objects will set up with the immaculate environment of a standardised retail centre. 
A play of values into and out of time. 
What is worth worth, what goods are good?

This residency will form a kind of re:view of my art practice - bringing together different strands. One of the threads running through it has been my collaborative work with poets - often in the hills and caves of Craig y Cilau nature reserve.

At a closing event, poets will come to Pantechnicon to engage with the exhibition and respond to it in their various ways, whether by readings, improvisations, lectures, pronouncements, discussions... 

Some new work will be on show from my poèt assassinée series which takes its title from a story by Guillaume Apollinaire. The story - which ends with a general massacre of poets - is about love, creativity and damage but also refers in part to the struggle between individual expressivity and the repressive normative demands of a culture.

Sunday 29 September 2013


Boxes are both things in themselves and repositories of an interior world of artefacts, materials, sounds, social processes and so on, but also of the possible and the unexpected (which may include emptiness of course).

A museum is similarly a container in which a nation, a people, a locality creates a kind of chimerical patchwork identity

entrance Swansea Museums Collection centre

inside Swansea Museums Collection centre

Much of my childhood was spent in the family antique shop with its strange gatherings and juxtapositions of objects. For me, this was a personal and domestic, not commercial environment.

Hemsworth Antique Shop, Ripon

So it is the relatively intimate collections of smaller museums, with their sometimes less ordered narratives, that interest me most. They can be more organic, with a quirkier, wilder and perhaps more complex story to tell of locality and the human psyche. 

For example, at Cyfarthfa Castle, Merthyr you move effortlessly from a mummified head

Cyfarthfa Castle Museum and Art gallery

 to an emperor penguin

Cyfarthfa Castle Museum and Art gallery

past a cabinet of ironwork sample pieces, to the very first automated ballot box.

Secret Ballot Box, Cyfarthfa Castle Museum & Art Gallery

The style and function of a box suggests an era and a locality as well as delimits aspects of a personal and social identity.

Freedom Box, Newport Museum & Art Gallery

Pay Box, Newport Museum & Art Gallery

I'm interested in the way this idea links with the image of the museum and gallery, each of which is also a kind of box, a repository of the artefacts through which a nation, a people, a locality tells its own stories. 

With warm thanks to staff at:

and to Arts Council Wales - see earliest post

Saturday 17 August 2013


The world is made of systems and objects 
The systems keep snagging on the objects

and the objects keep dissolving into the systems

Each system has its hypothetical ideal state: smooth, noiseless, entropy-free self-sufficient
Each object has its hypothetical state of absolute fullness and presence

But all systems impinge on other systems and all objects impinge on other objects, just as all objects and systems impinge on one another

The result might be noise, dissolution, disorder, the painful or pleasurable chaos of existence, but the hypothetical states of equilibrium, fullness and presence are real also as a part of the mix, and systems and objects are continually trying to recover those ideal states

The 'ideal state' is a chimera, a mythical beast, but objects and systems too are continually creating new chimera in the process of their collisions and interactions, fabulous and unlikely forms which may only last a moment but which stir our consciousness into new life and excitement

Art is one of the processes by which we grasp these momentary extravagances, forming and boxing them for purpose of reflection, return and sharing

images Penny Hallas
words from conversation with Lyndon Davies
copyright Penny Hallas 2013

supported by a bursary from a-n The Artist Information Company

boxing the chimera is a research and development project supported by Arts Council Wales