As torpid bathing colonies realise that gastropubs, healing massage and contemporary art are the destination attractions for the contemporary weekend tourist, Wonders of Weston is a part of a desire to modernise and reinvent the cultural experience of British seaside towns. The programme of permanently-sited artworks in Weston-super-Mare, SW England, was launched on 29 October 2010 with artworks by artists Ruth Claxton, Tim Etchells, Lara Favaretto, Tania Kovats in association with landscape architects Grant Associates, architects raumlaborberlin and artist collective Wrights & Sites. The projects were accompanied by an extensive programme of public engagement.
Lara Favaretto created a constellation of phosphorescent material along the causeway which dissects the sea from the Marine Lake. The artwork, Without Earth Under Foot, practically disappears by day and emerges as a temporary luminescent phenomenon by night creating a sense of a constellation or ‘milky way’ as if the night sky is reflected along the causeway itself.
In the oval concrete form of the Model Yacht Pond, Ruth Claxton’s And My Eyes Danced forms clusters of glass encased in circular hoops giving repeated, framed glimpses of the viewer and reflections of the surrounding architecture and environment.
Tania Kovats’ work was integral to the re-landscaping of Madeira Cove and featured one of the principal views to Steep Holm island, a remote nature reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest in the Bristol Channel. This was the inspiration for HOLM, a miniatuarised sculpture cast in pale concrete which replicates the distinctive landmass of Steep Holm.
Raumlaborberlin created Silly Scope, a temporary structure resembling a collapsed kaleidoscopic geodesic dome, with the reflective interior surfaces creating an effect similar to a hall of mirrors. An associated project The John Cleese Academy workshops from which SPAM! The John Cleese Fanzine and Funny Foot Age, were produced in collaboration with a group of young people.
Tim Etchells’ Winter Piece, is a two-part neon light work produced for the Winter Gardens Pavilion. Two statements ‘The Things You Can’t Remember’ and ‘The Things You Can’t Forget’ are illuminated in blue neon on the façade of the pavilion. In Shelter Piece, on Marine Parade, a series of short text fragments are etched into the glass windows, which detail the scenes Etchells observed on a summer’s day spent in Weston-super-Mare in July 2010.
Wonders of Weston was developed as part of the Sea Change programme (2008 – 2010), managed by Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE 1999 – 2011) on behalf of DCMS. Situations and Field Art Projects were selected by North Somerset Council to co-curate a series of commissions for the town. Sea Change made grant awards to local authorities with the aim to use culture to make a difference to seaside resorts, contributing to sustainable, social and economic regeneration.
Images from the top: Lara Favetto, Without Earth Under Foot. Wrights & Sites, Everything you need to build a town is here. Ruth Claxton, And My Eyes Danced. Tania Kovats, HOLM. raumlaborberlin, Silly Scope. Tim Etchells, Winter Piece. Photos: Jamie Woodley. Tim Etchells, Detail of Shelter Piece. Photo: Max McClure
http://www.wondersofweston.org/ http://www.situations.org.uk http://fieldartprojects.com/