As the Offset exhibition opens at G39, Cardiff.
Gethin the mechanic taking part in the olfactory workshop
The Pobol Prism Residency concludes with an exhibition of the documents and artefacts produced by the guest artist and the actor/characters who inhabit the fictional village .
October 4th – 31st 2014
private view 3rd October 2014
G39 Gallery, Oxford Street, Cardiff CF 24 3DT
Sitting waiting for my call to be part of the background action in the Deri bar, the calmest work environment I have ever witnessed. I got notes too, after the rehearsal, a more cheerful exit performance was required. It was a brief but memorable moment close to the end of the residency.
Currently I am editing the footage shot by Emyr Jenkins and myself though out the residency, I do not tire of hearing the actors voices, engaging and eloquent, they have much to say about their relationship to their characters and their craft.
BLOC 5 on Exhibition Y Ll Celf 2014
The intricate logistics of a serial drama production, with a cast of 32 characters, are eloquently communicated in detail by Ynyr Williams, the series producer of Pobol y Cwm. BLOC 5 consists of 2 white boards containing all the vital data required by a team of scriptwriters, in order for them to create 24 episodes of the series. Throughout the duration of the exhibition at 1pm daily a member of the Pobol y Cwm production team will be present to explain the data on the boards, an index to highly structured creativity.
Thinking aloud, is the creation of an artwork only worth instigating if there is something at stake? If so, when working in a participatory context can risks be taken, as the outcomes no only affect the artist but all of those who voluntarily collaborate.
Building risk into the design of a project is not something I had considered very carefully before entering into a participatory process, the question of will they won’t they want to play? Has felt enough of a risk in itself. It’s only now having instigated a number of actor focused studio sessions over a six month period, that it am thinking of what risk taking might mean in this context.
Drawing in the Green Room on 7th May, unusually the television was off. Actors popped in to pick up their mail from the pigeon holes near the door, if they saw me they greeted me warmly. Up to this point in the Residency I had not spent more than 10 minutes in the room talking to actors. One the actors volunteered to help measure the space, the closest he has come to getting involved in the project. Maybe looking busy and in need of assistance, could be an effective strategy for drawing participants into activities.
Over the past three weeks a number of studio meetings have taken place in which I presented examples of artworks which utilised a wide variety of materials, from those discussions arose a suggestion of using text. Subsequent discussions included consideration of the contexts in which text might be displayed and how meaning is created by the relationship between site and sign. As a consequence of these studio discussions the group questioned the whether or not they wanted to make artwork(s) for a gallery space in Cardiff, as planned. Dialogue about the placement of artworks outside of the gallery space interestingly stimulated two contrasting ideas as to where artworks might be placed, so as to be accessible to Pobol audiences throughout Wales. The first was the use the highly visible exhibition site of the roadside billboard, the second the discrete placement artworks in the landscape, only alert passers-by would discover the hidden works. Clearly one approach does not rule out the other, it remains to be seen which direction the actor/characters decide to take their ideas, maybe ways of connecting the two diametrically opposed approaches will surface. As the project facilitator I am delighted that the actors are so ambitious in considering the possibilities of creating a contemporary artwork as a collective.
Serendipitously I found an artisanal soap-maker living in Cardiff, his name Jordan Cuff. Having spent some time searching for a Wales based soap-maker, I was very fortunate to find Mr Cuff, a soap maker with an appetite for adventure. So far we have collected olfactory data on eight characters, using professional quality software to analyse the findings, we have eight bespoke recipes for soap that truly reflect the character’s scent preferences.
Almost all the introductions to the characters have taken place, via the actors who play the characters the creation process can begin. Conversations with the actors revealed a wealth of dexterous abilities; there are plumbers, plasters, draughtsman/women, painters, potters, photographers and writers (If writing can be classed as a dexterous act). Awareness of the cast’s creative and manual skills certainly inspires hope in the character’s confidence to participate in the residency activities.
As a result of the one-to-one discussions with actors, themes have begun to surface, Themes considered broad enough to accommodate different character perspectives and focused enough to serve as meaningful metaphors for the participatory process.
From this point onwards one key concern is to locate the air pockets for play in a watertight work schedule, shooting 70 pages, five days a week!