Penrhyn Castle

A workshop with artist Joanne Wardrop at Penrhyn Castle near Bangor, Gwynedd.

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“What if we could re-enact he past?

Imagine we have been gifted Penrhyn Castle, just as Richard Pennant acquired it. What would we do with the site? What could we do with the site?

Would we keep the castle as it is or re-appropriate its architecture and history for a new function? If we opted for change, how do we treat the sites narratives – as inspiration, as an USP, as an allegory, or all of the above? Who would this site function for and how do we define what is a successful function?

In this alternate reality it is our task to re-design the function of the castle taking into account the needs of local communities. Could we make it into social housing, a museum of Bangor’s history, a casino which funds local projects, a mock-Norman theme park, a 4D cinema, a shopping mall only selling Welsh produce?

Using the inventiveness of local art students and individuals as architects, along with the expertise of volunteers and staff as the board of members, we will use Penrhyn’s rich histories and narratives to inspire proposals for a new imagining of the castle.”

– Joanne Wardrop

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A group of five met up with Joanne on a sunny Friday morning outside on the castle’s lawn. I was the second to arrive, and soon the others came to join us. Jo took us into the castle, and up to the rooms where the residence artists work, in a section of the castle not open to visitors. Here she spoke about her work and her intentions at the castle during her residency. We also shared our own practice with her.

After some time exploring the castle, we returned to the artist rooms to begin making work. As an exercise to inspire work, she asked us to find newspaper and magazine articles relevant to our own work, and combine words and sentences with those from information about the castle/house. This made for a fun and interesting beginning to our project.

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(My combination of words and sentences from newspapers and Penrhyn castle information)

 NOTE: Due to illness I was unable to complete this workshop.

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