Addo were appointed by Glandŵr Cymru, to curate and manage an exciting three-year programme of artist residencies across Wales. The collaborative project, with Arts Council of Wales, aims to highlight Wales’ fantastic canal network while giving artists the opportunity to develop their practice within this context. The programme has so far involved three residencies undertaken by artists, Andrew Dodds, Alan Goulbourne and Mair Hughes.
Glandŵr Cymru, the Canal & River Trust in Wales, has teamed up with the Arts Council of Wales to create six artists’ residencies across waterways in Wales over the next three years. This partnership will highlight not only the heritage and historic significance of Wales’ canals, but also celebrate and increase their current relevance to local communities and contemporary Welsh culture. The Trust is exploring how contemporary arts can play a role in helping to preserve, animate and re-interpret the waterways in Wales.
The first residency, a six-month residency based on the North Wales and Borders canal, began in February 2014. Andrew Dodds, a Belfast-born artist working in London, investigated the crossing of borders between Wales and England and the relevance of this to current cultural practices, interpreting the role the Shropshire Union Canal played in the past and continues to play today. Looking at local sites and traditions Andrew has made a number of proposals for further works.
Andrew Dodds was based in a studio on the canalside in the former Froncysyllte community centre and workers’ mess rooms for the Canal and Rivers Trust Wales (previously British Waterways). The studio is within spitting distance of the Pontysyllte Aqueduct and hundreds of tourists, canal boats and dog walkers pass by everyday.
Dodds adopted the vernacular name of the building, The Old Institute, and used it as a base to engage the surrounding communities in his art practice. The artist proposed that the Old Institute be refurbished and made publicly accessible by CRT, enabling it to host displays of objects, films, talks, performance and publishing that will explore the socio-political complexities and histories of what is now a World Heritage Site. Dodds’ projects have permieated the surrounding communities and towns, bringing experiences, discussions and ideas from The Old Institute to the broader public realm as insertions into public space.
The artist has received critical and popular acclaim internationally and his recent projects include ‘Tho I Am But Small I Will Be Heard Among You All’ (2011) engaging with Kent’s Change Ringing (bell ringing) tradition and I, Sparkie (2013) examining the wider cultural resonance of the world’s most famous talking budgerigar, Sparkie Williams.
‘My work is usually made for a particular place or time, often within the context of contested or highly charged settings. I adopt a range of artistic roles and strategies to critically research our historical and social relationship to ‘nature’, the voice and the built environment, with the aim of teasing out the shared potentialities of public space. Crucially, the work resonates with and builds upon the values, beliefs and interests of the communities/organisations involved: meaningful social engagement and collaboration are central to my practice and I have developed a methodology that enables participants to become directly involved in the imagining, production and realization of the artwork – the results of which have received critical and popular acclaim’.
Cardiff-based artist Alan Goulbourne began his four-month residency on the Mon & Brec canal in February 2014. His practice involves the creation of sculptural, gallery-based and public realm works, which expand and engage with space. He has just completed an artist in residence at Aberystwyth Arts Centre and has previously exhibited and made work in Bahrain, and across the UK.
‘My practice relies upon a process of implementing order and chaos, effectively within random sequences, in order to drive a progression from a single moment and mark, to a vast crescendo of massing marks and movements that collectively represent something simple that is visually riddled with complexity. With this residency I’m looking forward to building work which interacts with the community and environment of the area reflecting the relevant history and future of the canal’.
Alan has made his first artist’s film in response to the residency and will premier this sometime in Spring 2015. He also made temporary artworks during the residency and aims to complete a large-scale installation before spring 2015.
Mair Hughes begins her residency on the Montgomery Canal in January 2015.