Project: Private Views Made Public : Videos & Installation
Location: Sandstone Ridge, Cheshire West
Cost: £1,000 (Commission from Atoll consultancy fee)
Artist: Patricia Mackinnon-Day
Site Programme: 6 months
Atoll Service: Public Art Consultant for (outgoing) Cheshire County Council
Project Status: Completed 2009
Exhibition: 2010 Screen Deva at St Mary’s Centre, Chester
Ian Banks acted as public art consultant and curator for Cheshire County Council in run-up to creation of the new Unitary Authorities of Cheshire East and Cheshire West & Chester. Ian explored the strategic public art strategy opportunities for both new authorities linked to a Cheshire Spaces public realm commissioning programme. Part of this involved curating micro art commissions, such as this muti-seasonal time-lapse video of artist Patricia Mackinnon-Days Private Views Made Public , commissioned as part of the Access & Interpretation strand of a wider Habitats & Hillforts programme, with Ellie Soper, Project Manager of Cheshire West and Chester. This Landscape Partnership Scheme was a Heritage Lottery funded and ran from 2008 to 2012. The project focussed on the chain of historically important hill top Iron Age hillforts that lines Cheshire’s Sandstone Ridge.
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Quoting the artists Private Views Made Public project website:
“What MacKinnon-Day found fascinating, was that the clues to the history of these ancient monuments remained hidden beneath the ground – these mysterious depths were not only enchanting but also represented potential material for research.
The other aspect of these hill-fort sites was their location – secreted along winding paths off the beaten track. Mackinnon-Day was intrigued that they could only be viewed at specific angles along the footpaths and that many of the more spectacular and interesting views were accessed from private farmland. She decided to use time-lapse cinematography to document these invisible, historic landmarks and explore ideas around the demarcation of land.
MacKinnon-Day walked and travelled the distance of the sandstone ridge for several weeks getting to know the landscape and understanding the communities around the hill-forts. She worked with both the archaeologist and ecologist who had already made links with people along the ridge to help her gain contact with private landowners who lived adjacent to the hill-forts. Mackinnon-Day wanted to develop a relationship with these communities and gain access to their private views of the hill-forts and make these views public. Like Georges Perec, she wanted to capture the infra-ordinary. Similar to Perec she used a frame (window in a shed, opening tent-flap, doorway in a caravan) to capture only from this position at four different times during the year. What was documented was the slowly changing landscape within the frame. The main difference between MacKinnon-Day’s process and Perec’s was “media”: using technologies and processes that were never around in the 1970s to capture the infra-ordinary.
Like Perec, “My intention … was to describe what remains; that which we generally don’t notice, which doesn’t call attention to itself, which is of no importance: what happens when nothing happens, what passes when nothing passes, except time …” (Species of Spaces and Other Pieces, translated by John Sturrock, Penguin, 1997) and thereby get to the essence of the subject.
The research idea was about the mapping of time and place. Each film showing dramatic but slow changes within the landscape at different times of the year.
The slow yet arduous process of time-lapse cinematography allowed her to capture the dramatic changes in light and colour across the seasons. The time-lapse process seemed an appropriate metaphor for the enduring nature of those mysterious ancient monuments across the centuries”.
Categories: Public Art