Monday 3 October 2016

Brunel House

At the end of the last post I hoped I might be able to experiment with cats eyes on a larger scale, and suddenly, in August, there was a chance to do that over the course of a two month residency at the Cardiff city centre office block, Brunel House - thanks to Floating Island Gallery.

I felt lucky to be based on the semi-derelict floor 5, an enormous space with parts of ceilings down, sections of floors taken up, and access points to infrastructure exposed.

I placed cats eyes, from rural Powys roads, in service areas that would not be apparent when the commercial units are functioning - and also used blocks of them in the vast office. 

 I started to project film onto them - 

and onto electrical units, wires, pipes and piles of construction materials.

The images projected were stills and film of things seen and found in and around Craig y Cilau National Nature Reserve, near my studio in the Black Mountains: 



An elastrated lamb scrotum

But they were mainly film of rivers, brooks, streams and gullies in spate during time of flood.

Images of natural energy - dangerous, carrying everything away - transferred to a location reliant on orderly, managed systems to keep functioning.

Monday 23 May 2016

Cats Eyes

In taking my work once again from the Black Mountains to the vast art spaces of UnDegUn in Wrexham, I started with the idea of doing something with cats eyes. 

Over the years I've been gleaning the lenses that get flipped out of their casing to the sides of the mountain road over Llangattock escarpment, 

and experimenting with filming onto them

or putting them in strange contexts as a way of thinking about themes such as value, displacement, lost connections and colliding human and natural systems.

Thanks to the Powys County Council Road Maintenance team I was able to supplement my gleanings of the individual glass eyes, with complete obsolete rubber-cased units of cats eyes to build a structure on which to project films.

One film was of the massive dualing of the Heads of the Valleys road - over on the other side of the escarpment. 

The other was of the multiple spaces at Undegun

The cats eyes represent for me something of the process of navigating two very different localities, rural and urban - and the terrain between them. They call to mind the mapping of routes, finding one's way, the establishment of orderly routines for progressing through space, but they also seem evocative of the endless night-spaces which surround the narrow corridors they illuminate.

They are also suggestive, to me, of the fragility of established demarcations, the constant process of disintegration and renewal, dislocation and reorientation, involved in our sense of the shape of a space and the directions available to us within and through it.

I had elements of the work in mind before setting it up in UnDegUn, but didn't know what I would do with them before setting it up in the dark space called the VOID. 

As the lights play over them, these grubby, displaced objects seem transformed into a glittering night-time city scape. I was surprised by the way the cats eyes seemed to stare back at the viewer in an almost yearning manner. 

They made me think about reflection too, in the way they seemed to both accept the light from the projection passively and to hurl it back in new forms, both receiving the image and transforming it. 

These films were for Nonarchy, a group show of 9 artists. More information about the show can be seen at Arts Alive Wales.
 I learnt a great deal about what works best in the projections, and hope to build a larger structure in another space soon.  

Saturday 5 March 2016

Projections into LLwyn Celyn

Llwyn Celyn is a Grade 1 listed building, regarded by Cadw as one of the finest medieval hall houses in Wales.
The Landmark Trust with PEAK created an artist in residency project around its restoration. As well as the residency artists, some others, including me, have been given access to this special place.

image courtesy Landmark Trust

Like human beings, dwellings throw out a kind of penumbra of physical and psychological noise around themselves. A farmhouse such as Llwyn Celyn, spreads its influence into the fields around it - in this case a process that has been going on for centuries. 

It's not merely a case of objects which have been used and abandoned: it is the landscape itself which is changed - refuse heaps, footpaths, different forms of enclosure and so on.

Perhaps when a place is in a state of flux - being gutted ready for restoration, this shadowing effect becomes temporarily stronger and more chaotic.

I'm interested in the detritus or frass around the periphery - elements and processes which may ordinarily escape notice - and bringing these somehow back to their human and domestic origins.

I set about documenting this by photographing the surroundings
then projected those images into particular spaces inside the house, and photographed the result.  

By this means, what has passed from the inside to the outside finds itself returning to a kind of origin, and the space of origin becomes mingled with its external effects.

trees pollarded on the boundaries

snagged detritus on the perimeters

 Discarded fireplace, onto re-discovered bread oven 

A stump suspended, batlike

or like a bottle washer

 Burnt glass from a bonfire, fused with foliage

 a purse

When Llwyn Celyn is beautifully restored, I'd be interested in projecting some of these dusty, decrepit mementos back into the new interior as another way of thinking aout how systems collide and intermingle - bringing them into new relationship and offering a new perspective on them, their purpose and their value.

I'll use some of these ideas in a workshop - Seeing through Landscape - at Nottingham Lakeside Arts on 13th March.