Went along to an informal PEAK (Contemporary Art in the Black Mountains) Arts Alive event in Llangattock, Powys where artists Rob Smith and Charles Danby discussed work involving the construction of a fire replica limekiln to introduce their project.
I am simply going to discuss the event at a surface encounter level, what I saw and took from it immediately.
Having parked too far away – didn’t really get the directions and map printed clearly…found my way with other artists, slightly late, to the site. Reached the canal, saw the limekiln and then climbed over a most pleasingly built bridge with ‘floating’ steps down (steep!) the other side. Approaching the event site, found the artists and audience gathering around a much smaller kiln made of breeze blocks and the size of an oil drum. Inside it were layered coal and lime, several times. (22 October they’ll be showing this, a longer event though – for as long as the lime burns – until it’s out as part of Cardiff Contemporary). So the lime in this set up turned into quicklime, which looks fairly similar to the original lime, yet it is much lighter (though too Alkali for us to test) and brittle.
The chemistry was explained at great length. I found myself thinking how this talk was entirely about the process and not enough about the Why? behind the work. I did do a bit of background reading on the web before I went, but the language used about the project on the artists website just seems to tangle into intellectual worm holes. If I have to consider ‘what do they mean by that?’ more than twice in a sentence I begin to wonder if the intention is at complete odds with communication. Is the work the obfuscating?
The next stage – on top of the limekiln structure (the old industrial building we’d gathered outside)– we watched the process of quicklime being mixed in water, heating up and making white wash, which was flecked with a fushia pink impurity. The mixing and reacting took a while, the reaction took a while to heat up with mixing. Along with another guy I saw red flashes in the bucket and it turned out to be camera red eye function before a flash! Whoops. The cloud was already dark in the distance and covering the mountain behind us and as the sun dipped beneath the horizon we had hot drinks and got into discussions underneath an oak tree.