As I cannot fix anything into the walls of the studio I borrow some easels to display my work . I think about how work is displayed in the castle and go for a layered approach. I lay out all the watercolours on a table on acid free paper. The oil paintings are on easels or in alcoves. I use a cupboard in the studio to display cut outs, drawings and source materials. The opening works well with lots of staff and volunteers. After this we drink wine, order take out pizzas to the castle ( a first) and play charades until 3.3o am. The following day there is a meeting with the trust and a steering group for the residencies; despite the artists’ hangovers it goes very well and everybody is very positive with what has been achieved.
The following day we all pack up, it is a little sad. The good news is that we will be back in the castle in the autumn as the National Trust want to organise a more public showing at the castle of the work made… so watch this space. On a final note I want to post an image and text from volunteer Janet. If any more volunteers or readers want to send me their choices of what you would want to put in the castle, where and why e mail me with an image at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will add it to this post. Janet wrote; Regrettably it isn’t in my possession. However I’d love to place a copy, or better still the original, of this slate carving, probably made by a quarryman from Dyffryn Ogwen, above the fireplace in the dining room at Penrhyn Castle. I could then imagine the horror of George Sholto if he could come back as a spirit and see it there. I’m sure his reaction would be even more dramatic than that of anyone who happened to see his ghost!
Carved Slate from quarryman Dyffryn Ogwen
Today it was all systems go for the three artists. It feels like the final stage of the residency.It has been a busy day and I it is late so I am not going to write much. We have an event for the volunteers and staff tomorrow. I made two larger pieces today using collage, different variations of the cycling image.
Pleasures are like photographs
Following on from the last act of art intervention in the dining room I decided to play with installing some of my own works in the Keep.Part of this section of the house is bare brick and is only open to the public on mini tours. Having worked with cunning and stealth with the Joy intervention I decided to follow the correct channels on this next experiment .I got permission and part of the time I was accompanied by Alec, we shared a walkie talkies , it was safety in numbers ! The Keep is off-road territory in castle culture. I had always planned to explore putting artwork in this area and I was interested in how my faded wallpaper aesthetic would work in the spaces.
I liked the relationships of scale, pattern and material I found in placing the works.
Today I explored placing work in the castle. I made a copy on the item Joy had chosen, an image of an Ed Povey mural on a wall; before the castle had opened I placed the image in the first and then second place she had considered; below stairs in the kitchen and then on the dining table upstairs. This was an act of art terrorism in terms of the castle but it needed to be done and I was very careful. I liked the whole concept and rationale Joy presented; it is interesting the way the image of the mural sits nicely on the dinner table. It’s a quiet revolution by most peoples standards but radical for Penrhyn, frozen in time. I hope Joy is happy with the result.
art intervention on Dining Room Table
I made two new pictures today.
Alice fading, William Morris wallpaper
Alice and silk damask
I have also started a project where I ask the following questions;
1. If you could bring something of your own into the castle and place it somewhere what would that thing be and where would you want to place .It could be a family photograph, something you have made or would want to make, you can be as imaginative as you want.
2. Think about exactly where you would want to place the thing in the castle or grounds.Are there particular reasons why you would want to put it in your chosen place.Would it have a relationship with other objects or spaces, if so how would you describe that?
Joy, a volunteer who has been helping in a number of ways including a recent tour for all the artists looking at the painting collection , responded as follows-
1. My immediate reaction was that I wanted to bring a piece of art which pleases, intrigues or entertains me (or all three) and is specific to this area. I can’t make anything myself but have collected a few things which I never tire of looking at. I was first drawn to my three framed photographs (69 x 51.5 cm) done by Ed Povey of his local murals (now much faded), one in Menai Bridge, one in Caernarfon and the last in Portmadoc. I looked at our pieces of glass, wood-carvings, paintings, pottery etc but always came back to the Povey on the outside of Portmadoc pottery because since I had the three pieces in 2008 I have never worked everything in it out and it fulfils all three criteria. It is the luxury item I would take to my desert island if I was on Desert Island Discs because it would always remind me of family holidays before we came to live here in 1979 and life here after that.
2. I would put it in the larders down in the kitchen area because when the NT first took over in the 1950’s the space was rented to a privately run pottery down there. It would have a relationship with a former use of the area and the artisan skills used there then and since. The visual art of the mural itself connects with the visual art in the dishes produced, the subject matter connects with the kitchen earthenware around it, the plant pots used in the gardens to grow the vegetables (six acres of kitchen garden) and form a contrast with the finer crockery and porcelain in the china room. Lastly the history: Lloyd George is in the mural and he railed against George Sholto constantly in Parliament making George ‘the most hated man in Britain’ and causing him to flee to Yorkshire during the strike.
2. I thought about our conversation yesterday and me thinking about Banksy’s six weeks of incognito presence in the British Museum before it caused a stir. Then I thought about me calling pots and food presentation ‘artisan’ in my last email to you and my decision to put my Ed Povey ‘below stairs’. then I thought how Grayson Perry’s pots have removed the classification of ‘artisan’ by making his work sit alongside so-called ‘fine porcelain’ and ‘historic tapestries’, occupying the same space as they do but with either ‘controversial’ or ‘relevant’ subject matter, or both, whatever your opinion is: there is one of his pot’s in The National Museum, Cardiff alongside so-called ‘fine’ stuff. It’s just like the medieval goldsmiths and woodcarvers fighting to have parity with painters. So I am changing my chosen location for the Ed Povey’s ‘Pots: Porthmadoc. I would put it in the Dining Room putting a pottery workshop on a par with the fine Minton china. I thought my choice also connected with the Antonio de Pereda which brings a kitchen‘above stairs’. So that would be my photograph’s connection with its surroundings in the Dining Room.
Joy sent me an image of the picture which I posted above . Joy has also placed the questions in the volunteer room and e mailed them to other volunteers. I am hoping they will respond. Anyone reader who is interested please kindly e mail me your response at emrys.w@ntl world.com and I will include it in the blog.
The last two days have been busy with different sides of the project converging . Narrative structure is breaking down for me! There are a number of elements in my mind. We have had a meeting about the project with National Trust and volunteers, a tour for the artists around the castle, a visit with artists to Llandudno to see the Women’s art show at Mostyn, plans for the final week of events, a volunteer walking out and a difficult meeting, a visit from Iolo Williams from the Arts Council and Joanne taking us to see Alice’s dress which is in storage. There has been much reflection and soul searching about the project before the Grande Finale when the project finishes and the artists have to show and tell! We are planning a little event so there are catering issues and invites to sort out.
The mounting pressure is perhaps symbolised by the hysteria of the Punch and Judy show the three artists watch on Llandudno Promenade.
Alice cycling in Chinese wallpaper
” That’s the way to do it!”cries Mr Punch.
Meanwhile the artists try to make art. I manage two paintings
Today there were a number of events; a meeting about the project with staff and volunteers, a search for a key to a room with archival photographs and plans for events next week. This as all good.At the same time I made another painting of Alice, trying to make an image that was mysterious and open, with figure and ground relationships that suggested vulnerability.
Alice and faded wallpaper