The Cornwall Workshop, days 2 & 3 (20-21 October)

The Tau Cross incident, in Sean Lynch's exhibition 'A Rocky Road'
The Tau Cross incident, in Sean Lynch’s exhibition ‘A Rocky Road’

Days 2-3

On Sunday, we arrived in Penzance to take part in another walk by Hamish Fulton. This time, the 204 walkers made their way onto Longrock Beach to the east of the train station, and were organised into two lines, both parallel to the sea. The walk would take an hour, with the two lines slowly beginning to overlap, and would end when the first person in one line reached the last person in the other. Participants in the workshop later compared the formation to an equal sign, a human millipede, a burnt match broken in half and laid down with both ends side by side. The walk, which was sunny and windy, had an auspicious start, with a heavy rain shower followed by bright sunlight causing a rainbow in the distance.

After soup at the Exchange in Penzance, the group visited Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens, a privately run water garden restored by Doctor Neil Armstrong, a local GP. Armstrong began conversations with several artists including James Turrell and David Nash, which resulted in outdoor or pavilion-based works, sited at Tremenheere. The most recent addition to the place is a line of South African wind-resistant grass by Richard Long, set into the slope at the top of the gardens. The work is so new it is yet to be titled. Local artist Billy Wynter built a camera obscura in the gardens, which gives views of the semi-tropical plants in the gardens and of St Michael’s Mount, a local landmark topped by a privately owned castle.

Monday was spent in the ‘classroom’, the space in Kestle Barton where the Cornwall Workshop participants gather for presentations and discussions. Simon Starling led the day’s activities, which included artist presentations from participants. Starling screened a number of films including ‘Signer’s Koffer’ (1995), a poetic documentary about Roman Signer, and Nancy Holt & Robert Smithson’s film SWAMP (1971). In light of the weekend walks with Hamish Fulton, Starling also showed the group a film he had made in Malta with students from the Städelschule in Frankfurt, where he taught for ten years. The project involved the students re-enacting walking or public performances by artists Francis Alys, David Hammons and Gabriel Orozco on the streets of Malta. The re-enactments took place simultaneously and enabled the walks to take place in a different way, due to the different context and performers. The collaborative nature of the project was important, Starling said, because it enabled students ‘to leave their baggage behind and clear some space.’

Later, Sean Lynch presented his exhibition ‘A Rocky Road’, which explored the public and media reception of contemporary art in Ireland over the past 50 years. Lynch characterised the project as a ‘moving-through process’ between action and documentation. The exhibition included artefacts related to an incident in which an enraged member of the public, Richard Cochrane, smashed the prize-winning drawing of a naked man with an erection, having previously alerted the local newspaper of his intentions. Lynch’s exhibition seemed to return again and again to the ways in which the media was involved in fomenting these incidences of unusual or extreme reception of contemporary art.

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