I was commissioned to install an array of thirty-six magnetic pendulums for the Artwaves Festival at Bridlington Spa in the East Riding of Yorkshire. The venue has held an arts event for the last few years, inspired by the Hull City of Culture bid, and attracts thousands of people to the week long festival. I exhibited in the main hall as one of three emerging artists. There were many other exhibitors, from commercial stands to craft and urban/graffiti artists.
The event gave me the opportunity to show my art outside of the south east of England for the first time. It also entailed a good deal of technical and organisational work so that the piece could be transported in a small van, constructed and taken down in a few hours. That it all went without a hitch was a great relief.
I spent several weeks designing a modular version of the array which could easily be moved and fitted together quickly in Bridlington. The perspex sheet, from which the pendulums were suspended was strengthened with an aluminium frame. A new base was made with the electronics fitted beneath. Black mirrors were added to each magnetic pendulum bob to enhance reflections and improve the aesthetics of the array.
It took an hour to load, five hours to travel and a further five hours to put the array up at the venue. It all went very smoothly, apart from a broken perspex pod which was quickly fixed in situ. I have to give huge thanks to my friend and roadie, Simon Blanchard, who helped with the whole process.
Once the festival opened the real work began. Over the weekend more than four thousand visitors came to the Spa. I spent two days talking to a huge variety of people, from families with small children to older people with a real interest in visual arts.
It was gratifying that everyone who I spoke to was enthralled by the piece. They would almost all approach the array, spend a quiet few moments watching the movement of the pendulums, then say something like ‘It’s hypnotic’ or ‘mesmerising’ and ask how it worked. I had a number of suggestions for places to show the array, from the Tate to the Ferens Gallery in Hull. Now I am confident that the array can be installed in any suitable venue I will be looking to opportunities to show it more widely.
Bridlington Spa itself was a great place. With it’s dome, like an inverted Wedgwood cup above the hall, it provided a fantastic backdrop for the array.
At the end of the festival the array came down very quickly. From the doors closing to driving away was only thirty minutes, so again the modular construction proved its’ worth.
Looking back on the experience, I learnt a lot and found it all rather exciting. I signed mey first autographs and had many wonderful conversations with people intrigued by my work. All in all, something really positive and a step towards national exposure.