1 September 2004

art > travel > site, 2004

A series of organised coach excursions over four weekends around seven heritage sites in Lincolnshire. Seven artists were commissioned to make art in response to a sense of the history of the site, one of which was the coach.

Gillian Dyson, John Plowman, Wayne Lloyd, Jessica Voorsanger, Michael Dan Archer, Bob and Roberta Smith, Kelly Jackson

Curated by John Plowman

Gillian Dyson
Notes For No Distance
The Coach Journey

The coach

The coach

The aisle of the bus was flaked with gold, a performative action by Gillian Dyson as part of her work, Notes For No Distance. The application of the gold was reminiscent of an act of ritual or pilgrimage, bare foot on hands and knees. But in this case, the act of beautification was incongruous to the site – instead of a Buddhist shrine or Catholic altar, it was an ordinary bus. The gold line travelled with the audience on the bus. It was like a moving meridian, a benchmark or point of reference. Each traveller was also given a bag of objects and texts, which may or may not have related to the route the bus took.

John Plowman
St Mary's Guildhall, Lincoln

This 12th Century group of buildings is thought to have been erected for some civic purpose. It was also used as a Royal storehouse or cellar for the king’s wine, around 1236. 
Archaeological excavations found part of the Fosse Way, a major Roman road that ran under the West Range of the buildings. At the time of this project, a part of this could be viewed. The buildings were rented out for various uses. The paddock at the rear was the first home of Lincoln City Football Club, and in 1815, the North Range was used for malting. Dawbers the brewers were the last known occupiers of the maltkin.

One of this building’s previous uses was as a malt kiln. At the time of this exhibition, the barley was being harvested on the farms surrounding Lincoln and in former times would have been brought to the malt kin to be processed for brewing. A recurring theme in John Plowman’s practice is work and the nature of labour and productivity. Farming, an unrelenting labour intensive activity was here refered to in this scene of a workplace. The viewing platform was suggestive of a museum where such tableaus of historical settings are a popular method of display.

Wayne Lloyd
New Releases
Village Hall, Branston Booths

Built in 1931, on land donated by Mr Hinch, a farmer who raised money from local football matches towards the building project, the hall was given a life expectancy of 25–30 years. Over 70 years later the Village Hall remains at the centre of this small community’s activities. In 1994, it was decided no further money should be spent on the upkeep of the hall, since the structure, built on fenland, was becoming unsound. The community has since been actively raising finances towards the building of a new village hall.

The performance, New Releases, focused primarily on the difference between how film is experienced and how it is described. That is, rarely is a film described by reference to camera angles, lighting, location and all the aesthetic nuances which the makers may concern themselves with. Rather it is described as Wayne Lloyd performs it. This performance refers to our own social interaction. Performing at a location in the heart of a rural community, he is reminding us of the cultural isolation of such rural communities where films cannot be seen.

Jessica Voorsanger
Tupholme Abbey, Bardney

In the mid 12th Century, an Abbot and twelve canons founded a new Premonstratensian Abbey on ‘the island of sheep’ at Tupholme. Dressed in white, known as the ‘white canons’, they served the local community as priests and missionaries, deriving an income from agriculture and wool production until dissolved by Henry Vlll in 1536. The site changed ownership several times becoming Abbey Farm in the 19th Century. In the early 1970s. after becoming derelict, Tupholme Abbey hosted Bardney Pop Festival, which included Pink Floyd, The Beach Boys and Genesis. Tupholme Abbey was acquired by Heritage Lincolnshire Trust in 1988.

The festival stage was present and the original soundtrack was playing but the field was empty. This therefore became a shrine to its recent history as rock festival site, as the abbey remains are a shrine to its more ancient history. As an abbey the worship would have been to a God, as a rock and folk festival site, the 50,000 people would have made pilgimages to worship the pop stars. The empty stage created an even larger distance between them and us. The celebrity and the onlookers, the adored and the adoring.

Michael Dan Archer
Dunston Pillar

In 1751, Sir Francis Dashwood erected the 92ft limestone pillar with an octagonal lantern at the top as a land lighthouse, to deter highwaymen from robbing travellers. One of only three built in England, it became a popular tourist attraction and social centre, surrounded by a bowling green and assembly rooms. In 1909, a storm brought down the lantern and a 14ft statue of George lll replaced it. In 1941, during the Second World War, the top 60ft were removed, being seen as hazardous to low flying aircraft. Much of the stonework remains piled at the base of the pillar.

Originally a land lighthouse the burning fire atop, Dunston Pillar guided travellers across the bleak Lincolnshire landscape. The flames were replaced by a flashing neon cross, marking the spot. This light was still a guiding light for travellers and for contemporary art. Inside the pillar the faint murmurings of modern day saturnalias could be heard, in this case Nottingham at 11pm on a Saturday night. Again a reference to an aspect of its once inglorious past.

Bob and Roberta Smith
Temple Bruer Tower

The tower is the remains of the Preceptory of the Knights Templars, founded in C.1150–60. The Knights Templars, a half monk, half military order, were established to protect the first Holy Christian Shrines in Jerusalem and their pilgrims. ‘Preceptories’, major estate-centres were set up around Europe to earn money for the Shrines. The Knights Templars lived in strict poverty, chastity and obedience yet ran a wealthy and powerful order. A Knight was in charge of the preceptory and was perhaps the highest medieval ideal, this conflict between religion and military being unrecognised.

A site historically connected to pilgrimages to the holy shrines, Bob created his own shrine to humanity, thus the concrete slab inside the tower referred to three of his humanist heroes, Darwin, Orwell and Joe Strummer, encouraging us to think of the relevance and strength of belief rather than what is being believed. The artist’s name Bob Smith is an anybody’s name. His idea is that people can make their own art and anybody can be an artist. Thus he gave the audience the opportunity to create their own artwork by taking rubbings of the concrete slab or the graffiti carved into the interior stone work of the tower.

Kelly Jackson
St John’s Chapel, Bracebridge Heath

All Artists
Reading Room & Chapel, Wellingore

The Chapel was built in 1887, on land donated by the Allwood family of Rose Cottage, a Methodist family of carriers. The Reading Room was added in 1925 as the Sunday School. In the 1950s, the Allwoods claimed to see flying saucers from the window of Rose Cottage which made local headline news. During the 1980s, Jane Eaglen, who became an established opera singer, sang in the Wellingore Chapel annually with the Central Methodist Choir. Deconsecrated in 1993, the Reading Room was used as a business premises. Bought in 1999 from the receivers by the Plowman family, it has been converted into a home and studio.

Each artist contributed work to the static exhibition at the Reading Room & Chapel, the headquarters of the Beacon project.

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