Rob Smith & Charles Danby
Limelight : an archive
Castle Arcade, Cardiff
22 October – 19th November
Tuesday – Saturday 11am-6pm / Sunday 11am-5pm
Limelight is a project developed by collaborative artists Rob Smith and Charles Danby, based in Newcastle. Supported by Peak/Copa and the Canal & River Trust, the project researches and responds to the working landscape of canals, quarries, tramways and kilns that serviced the lime industry of the rural Black Mountains which in turn fed the nation’s heavy industries that roared through South Wales.
For their Cardiff Contemporary commission, the artists have used digital means to bring reflections on this history to urban audiences by streaming live illuminations at nightfall from Llangattock Limekilns in the heart of the Brecon Beacons National Park to the Welsh capital and online. The live stream event (on 22nd October) presented multiple perspectives of landscape, combining live with recorded footage, audio and performance in an immersive experience. The illuminations were created with limelight itself, an intense, pure white light generated through heating quicklime at high temperature, used in the 19th century for land survey work and stage lighting. Each live broadcast will lasted as long as it took for the chemical reaction to be exhausted.
Peak/Copa pitched up its Horsebox Studio outside Cardiff Castle during the opening weekend of Cardiff Contemporary (Friday 21st – Sunday 23rd October) which acted as a resource space for members of the public with an intriguing collection of artist films, vintage books, maps and lime materials related to the Limelight project.
Rob and Charles organised a replica limekiln burning at Llangattock during their research week in the Black Mountains in September 2016. The public event introduced the project and facilitated discussion about the lime industry and canal network.
Artists Rob Smith and Charles Danby are based in Newcastle and have collaborated since 2011. Rob brings a materially engaged approach to digital technologies, exploring the possibilities of live and networked art such as Radiometer (2011) and Field Broadcast – a live streaming project that enables artists to make live broadcasts from remote sites. Charles brings wide academic and curatorial experience challenging conventional approaches to archives and British art histories including projects such as Grand National – Art from Britain, Vestfossen, Norway (2010), Animated Environments, Siobhan Davies Studios, London (2011-12) and Das Traumann at Baltic (2015). He is a senior lecturer at Northumbria University.
In 2014 Smith and Danby organised Revisiting the Quarry, a symposium in conjunction with the Hayward exhibition Uncommon Ground: Land Art in Britain 1966-79 at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. In 2014 the artists were commissioned as part of Shelter, a project on Lindisfarne, Northumberland. Taking limestone from a quarry on the island they made a small scale lime kiln and produced quicklime that was subsequently used to create new sculptures called Repaired Rocks. These works repaired limestone rocks from the quarry, extending themes of industrial process within the landscape and the nature of post-industrial reparation to a site.
Peak/Copa creates opportunities for contemporary art in the Black Mountains for the benefit of the region’s artists, communities and visitors. The inspiration for Peak lies in an enthusiasm for the exceptional artists working in the Black Mountains and the distinctive, natural landscape of the region as a unique resource. Peak works in partnership with environmental and heritage organisations such as Canal & River Trust, The Landmark Trust and the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority. These organisations share Peak’s vision for bringing artists, sites and audiences together. Peak/Copa is an Arts Alive Wales initiative.
Cardiff Contemporary is a citywide festival of contemporary arts, showcasing a programme of exhibitions, events and activities over five weeks. 20 October – 19 November.
Limelight is part of the Canal & River Trust 2016 Arts on the Waterways programme. The programme offers time and space to artists, producers and curators to make new work and engage new audiences for both the waterways and the arts.
Peak is one of five projects currently supported by the Digital Innovation Fund for the Arts in Wales, a strategic partnership between Arts Council of Wales and Nesta. The partnership is helping arts organisations in Wales to experiment with digital technology as a tool to reach new audiences. Peak is working in collaboration with BBC Cymru Wales to research the use of live-streaming digital technology in site-specific locations in the Brecon Beacons National Park.
Established in 1995, Ty-Mawr Lime Ltd has made an enormous contribution to resurrecting the use of traditional building materials. Ty-Mawr has gone on to become a market leader in the design, manufacture and distribution of environmentally-friendly building materials and systems, providing a ‘one-stop’ shop for its customers and clients across the UK.
For more information contact: Rebecca Spooner, Creative Director
email@example.com / 01873 811579
(photo credits: Jon Pountney & Toril Brancher)