In January 2020 we were invited to exhibit in Anglesey for Unus Multurum at Plas Bodfa. Two national lockdowns and a Tier 3 situation in Liverpool put pay to our ability to bring our ideas into this wonderful space, curated by the indomitable Julie Upmeyer.
We did however visit the site in February, braving the gathering winds of Storm Ciara. But more of this shortly..
For a fascinating overview of what despite the odds was ultimately able to be realised by the artists, check out Upmeyer’s remarkable 1h 9′ documentary on the 2020 project.
On Feb 8th we drove along the A55 with the storm clouds lowering and wind speeds picking-up. For various reasons I can’t remember we had to choose this weekend to meet together at Plas Bodfa and by the time of our eventual rendezvous in Beaumaris the rain and wind was nearing horizontal.
Our intention was to spend some quiet time in the three rooms allocated to us and by osmosis determine what ideas we had originally proposed might survive, and what new might be born from the process. Some images from the day can be found on an earlier post.
As it was, the cold, the gathering darkness, wind and rain lent a peculiar urgency to the process. Exploration, photography, smartphones, some sketches.. were hurried. It later transpired that COVID had other plans for our work, but in the end it was Ciara who had the last word.
We had always intended to use the presence of the building as the core of our work, bringing as little material as possible on-site for the install. As we gathered in the upper room, there was a clear consensus that the sounds without had developed into the material within. Each of us captured something of this on our smartphones.
For my part an audio transcription of Ciara’s persistent muttering through the broken ceiling tiles of Room T became something of a tangible reminder of a phenomenon that seems in hindsight to be a kind of strange precursor to the wider natural disaster that followed.
We dashed to the cars and headed back along wild roads, whipped by winds.
If our wider creative scheme had been able to be realised, the inter-connectivity between the upper rooms would have been the mechanism by which we disintegrated the current spaces and set-up new dialogues. Venting sounds through ducts in the ceiling spaces, boarding-up some rooms, opening others, a faux working lift.. unsettling relationships that give a nod to Gregor Schneider.
Much later, my audio recording of Storm Ciara began to murmur. The opportunity to recreate in the studio a small sketch of what might have been built at Plas Bodfa presented itself, and in a curiously satisfying way the fact that the audio and visual elements were digitally combined from sources 80 miles distant gave a kind of denouement to our original process.
We had disintegrated the spaces, but not in the way we had perhaps intended.