Initially the group began with the idea of Welsh folk stories, which we were interested in because of the way that they are communicated. These stories were only passed by word of mouth, and have only been recorded in modern times.
Buying fabric, and constructing the tent in Gallery 1, Arnolfini
The group explored these stories, becoming attached to ‘The story of Gelert’ and the Welsh language, mainly its translation and mistranslation into English and other languages. This lead us to explore translation, which became the centre of the project.
The group wanted to create a den or tent like space to present the story, as we felt that this was the perfect storytelling environment.
After we had decided on creating a tent space, we were given found footage of a family putting up a tent. This coincidence re-affirmed our tent concept, and became a really important part of the work.
The story of Gelert continues to be an integral part of the work and its creation.
Recently, I got the opportunity to take a trip to May Park Primary School in Easton with a member of the Arnolfini. The whole school is having a lot of building work done, and as part of it, the Arnolfini has commissioned Exzyt to create an Art feature entitled “The Hide” to sit in a woodland clearing on the grounds.
The whole project is remarkable. The idea that this primary school had what was basically its own forest was amazing. It was something I never got to experience as a child, and I just wanted to join in with the kids playing in the forest and making dens!
But the most exciting thing about this space is the project they are doing with it. Along with the Arnolfini, Exyzt has designed a small, timber, sculptural building to sit in a clearing. This structure has been designed to resemble a “boulder” or “hazelnut” that fits perfectly with its surroundings. It’s got a range of features that allow the children to really connect with the wood such as panels where the children can look out onto the wildlife (including an area where a badger has made their home!). It’s a really interesting project that I can’t wait to see completed.
During my visit, I got to sit in with a class as they participated in a workshop about the new sculpture. Exyzt explained that the structure is based on a “zome” – the repetition of a geometric form in a double helix pattern. This is a feature that crops up everywhere in nature, ranging from leaves on flowers to the shapes on cauliflower! They showed how the idea of using a sequence of shapes over and over can create different and more complex structures.
Drawing examples from the gherkin in London, they showed the kids the different shapes they used to make The Hide, and introduced the idea of nets. They gave the class some sheets of paper with a net of the structure on. The children then got to make their own miniature paper version of it, and I was lucky enough to get to join in!
The whole project looks really interesting and talking to the children, they all seem to love it too! The little architect inside of me was really excited about the methods they are using to create it, and the ideas behind it. It’s made me think about how you can use different sequences of shapes to create these engaging structures seem to take on a completely different shape.
This post was featured in the third edition of Young Arnolfini’s Zine, with the theme “Sequential”. Check it out here