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The Art Weekender Chronicles: Day 2!

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Laura Reinbach

The Art Weekender is an eventful time for explorers of the arts in Plymouth. In this instalment, Laura Reinbach encapsulates the second day of the weekender just in case you have missed out on anything.  

Although I had every intention to see as much as I could plan, nothing really permitted me to follow said plan.  

The time was half past nine and I arrived into town to view Temenos, only to find the opening time had changed. An installation at the Methodist Church Central Hall, the piece revolved around the idea of thresholds, sanctuaries, and new things coming into being. Afterwards, I was on a mission to find the Orbit Bus Session, but this was unfortunately delayed. I came to realise that it was possible to be too organised. 

Eventually, I was able to return to the former sanctuary of Ric Stott and Ian Adams. Through a series of 10 paintings and poems, you were taken through your own journey of self-discovery. Stott's paintings balanced warm swathes of colour with cool scribbles and scratches over beautifully simplistic black and white drawings. To this, Adams's poems gave a greater spiritual reading and meaning. By the end, only warmth and strength remained, as if ready to start the ‘story’ over, an apt method given its religious vibe.  

Following this, I thought I would be at a loss once more until The Truth Wall began shouting its anti-politics at me from the "What’s On" stand. Organised by the Kiss and Bite Letterpress Studio, any potential traces of old announcements were virtually smothered by the haphazard pasting of 80s-style propaganda. Its boldly coloured declarations of ‘Don’t Be Calm, Be Angry’ were instantly eye-catching and subvert the typical 'Keep Calm and Carry On' narrative. After circling this outspoken piece a few times like an inquisitive dog, I wandered to the Hoe in search of Anita Lander; her unique decision to sit and listen on a bench beneath a tree for seven hours intrigued me. Alas, she too was nowhere to be seen, so I turned myself back to town to continue the next leg of my arty odyssey. 

Having picked up an iced Americano and my constant art companion, Mark Jones, both of us were ready to investigate BankRUN, a small wooden ATM created by Lara Luna Bartley to mark the 10th anniversary of Northern Rock’s collapse. Having ‘activated’ the machine by trusting my finger to a small hole in the display, a magical hand provided me with the option of three bank notations and one of three radical economists to adorn the note. After briefly waiting, the chosen note was delicately ejected through a slot, bearing Ben Dyson’s face on one side, and a female face oddly like my own on the other. Wishing it had any monetary value, we advanced to the bus stop in anticipation of the Wonderzoo Bus Tour organised by Peter Davey.  

Just up the road sat the number 34 Orbit bus, its top deck stuffed with brilliant pink orbs, taunting my impatience and self-inflicted schedule. But, I had stranger things to attend to on a bus. Joined by some of last night’s Versify crew, we experienced out-of-tune group renditions of The Sound of Music. Oddly enough, west country comedian Richard James appeared to be more at home shouting at people on a bus (despite the unconventionality of doing just that) than with small talk.  Versify’s own poet, Nick Ingram, was looking to beat his own record for the verbal 100-metre dash, before Marian, Versify’s organiser, teasingly tantalised the ears with her poem on whales, whales, whales. After an hour, we’d ended up so far out of town, we needed to catch another bus back. 

Once returned to familiar ground, we trekked out to what I perceived to be the final location on my schedule, the Plymouth School of Creative Arts. This played host to multiple installations for the weekender, which included: 

"The Curious Cattewater Dog Cabinet" by Zoe and Callum Moscrip: This was a means of bridging the gap between artefact and community by bringing evidence of one such artefact (a shipwreck) to life in the form of a skeletal puppet dog. Yes, a puppet dog. Despite its obviously deceased state, I felt it might move at any moment – if only the mechanism would allow it to. 

"In the Air…" by Jenny Mellings: A set of three aerial painted scenes of remote landscapes. One even went as far as Saturn’s moon, Titan. These landscapes provided a way to make the distant seem near, and the reverse, in a tangible space. 

"What do you see?" by Janine Rook: A series of visitor-created Rorschach inkblots intended to explore one’s psyche. Most of the images had a biological nature for me – lungs, tree, uterus – what could that possibly reveal about my psyche? 

"Paradice Lost" by Stuart Robinson and Kirsty Harris: In my quest for deeper meanings behind art, this minimalist interaction of a neon red sign saying ‘PARADICE’ (Robinson) and a colour scene of a mushroom cloud (Harris) said it all loud and clear. However, that was not all there was to it. Other interpretations emerged from my conversation with Stuart, such as the installation’s sense of not-rightness. This derived from the incorrect spelling of paradise and the innocuous ‘poof’ of the cloud. It was through this conversation that my [true] final stop was mentioned: KARST’s contribution to "We the People Are the Work, I am Your Voice" by Claire Fontaine. 

In the spaces provided, Mark and I found a map of the British Isles composed of burnt matches, signifying a ‘tragedy perceived too late’, the smell of which tainted the air; and a set of three red and white neon signs that lit up an otherwise pitch-black room. It smelt of fresh paint. Their ambiguous messages allowed a viewer to question the concept of morals: I do it because it’s right/It’s right because I do it. The signs frighteningly seemed to communicate with one another as the individual words lit up, making me glad to leave the room. Then came the time to peep into KARST’s own Peepshow. Through nine installed peepholes you could see a snippet of the resident artists’ work, allowing the average viewer a glimpse behind the scenes. One piece proved to be difficult to tear Mark away from due to it living up to the installation’s name. 

Phew, and with that, day two is wrapped up. Any quotes are taken from the provided leaflets. Bring on day three!  

Do not forget that the finale of the Art Weekender will be coming out tomorrow.

Laura Reinbach

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