Storyhouse, Chester’s £37m theatre, cinema and library which opened in May, is pleased to announce that its inaugural visual arts commission is with award-winning artist Bedwyr Williams and will launch October 2017.
Encompassing performance, sculpture, painting and video, Bedwyr Williams's practice is characterised by his unique humour and gentle self-depreciation, both informed in part, by his upbringing in Wales. Drawing from his life experiences, Williams' work, on the one hand, offers a sharp critique of our everyday world, and on the other a celebration of the obscure and overlooked.
His new work for Storyhouse is Hypercaust (working title) is a computer-generated video piece which will bring back to life the Roman Fortress Bathhouse that once stood a short distance from Storyhouse. Now erased from Chester, the baths will be recreated through historically accurate 3D renderings. This mesmeric work will present a different kind of storyhouse, where Roman Legionaries would have chewed the fat, sharing yarns and secrets at the end of a long day, cloaked by steam.
The artist imagines the building empty of bathers on a moonlit night with the fires below still burning and steam rising above still baths. The narrator recalls stories but not those of Roman Chester but rather the stories of modern Chester: the recent folklore and tittle-tattle of this unusual city. Half remembered tales and shared anecdotes, the ordinary epic of petty crimes and misunderstandings strung together.
The work will be realised with the assistance of local 3D animation company Take 27. Storyhouse is a disused and abandoned art deco Odeon cinema and a brick and glass extension, Williams’ piece will be shown on a large screen located where the original Odeon’s cinema screen once was, and the point where the 1936 building connects with the brand-new extension, in Storyhouse’s public space.
William’s used Chester’s public library now contained within Storyhouse, as a starting point to gather local yet curious stories for his film. The stories were gathered at the Chester Archives and through the Local Studies service.
This is just one of the outstanding cultural events to be experienced in Cheshire and forms part of SLANT, Cheshire’s angle on art and culture. Slant is the umbrella programme that positions Cheshire and Warrington as a different cultural proposition from our metropolitan neighbours, taking advantage of our location, showcasing our best, innovative arts and cultural product, promoting the edgy and distinctive, whilst supporting the development of a mutually beneficial partnership between Arts, Cultural and Tourism sectors for the long term. Slant has been supported through the sub region by the successful securing of Cultural Destinations funding from Arts Council England. The 3 year project started in April 2017 and features an incredible line up of unique events in unexpected locations.