Taking a jaunt off the beaten path, Getintothis’ Paul Fitzgerald ventures out to Calderstones Mansion for the first Ad Hoc Creative Expo.
A darkened room in a Victorian mansion house at the heart of Calderstones Park. Outside, the late spring early evening sunshine adds to the splendour of the setting for this, the first ever Ad Hoc Creative Expo. Inside, large sheets of black netting are stretched tight across six imposing steel frames to create projection screens. Quotes from No Worst, There Is None, a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins, a beautiful piece, dealing with issues surrounding his well documented depression, are cast across the screens, and interspersed with geometric shapes, distorting and regenerating themselves as they pass between the quotes. Strongly contrasted images of vast, sharp, mountainous landscapes. Vast and rugged. Dark and intimidating.
The soundtrack of the piece evokes the darkness of the poem, and the demons with which Manley
Hopkins battled. Layer on layer of widely sustained deep and weighty cello notes form a lilting drone with violins. A beautiful piano piece weaves through the string section, and heavy chords bring the piece a certain richness, a certain depth.
This collaboration, from Bill Ryder Jones, and London based visual artist Marco Lawrence, actually isn’t really a collaboration at all. Both artists separately and independently created their part of the piece, using the poem as their inspiration, and aside from a small amount of email traffic between the two, that was where it ended. It’s a stunning piece regardless of that. As a child, this writer was always taught to look up at your surroundings, to appreciate the unexpected as well as the obvious. A perhaps unexpected and unplanned strength to Lawrence’s visuals in this piece, is the way they layer and clash on the ornate Victorian coving on the walls of this finely appointed space.
The event was brought together by Ad Hoc Creative, a scheme which gives empty space to artists, for them to act as building guardians, in return for a low rent. Many artists, Lawrence included, are part of the Europewide scheme, and this evening’s performance was in a space provided by The Reader Organisation, who are based at the Mansion House under the Ad Hoc scheme. They in turn, united with our good friends at Bido Lito to present the evening, which began in an ante-room with an introduction from Craig Pennington, Bido Editor In Chief, and a reading of the Manley Hopkins poem.
Bill Ryder Jones was unable to attend the event due to a back injury, but managed to film a video statement regarding his involvement in the project, where he discussed the installation, and his contribution in a little more detail. We should expect and anticipate many more such events from this innovative and worthy scheme. And in all of this, there is surely a lesson, for City Councils countrywide, on how to develop the City’s creative culture, support its artists, and simultaneously protect some really important buildings. If, of course, they’re willing to learn.
Pictures by Getintothis’ Keith Ainsworth: