STONE COLD CASANOVA
A year-long residency and installation in Penrhyn Castle, Bangor, 2015-2016
Commissioned by the Arts Council and the National Trust
Penrhyn castle is a mock-Norman Castle in Bangor, Wales, created by Lord Penrhyn and the architect Thomas Hopper between 1822 and 1837. Mock-Norman means that the castle is actually a brick country house with a stone façade of a Norman Castle.
The site is much loved by some, and extremely contentious for others. There are many conflicting readings of the site and its histories, yet quite often within the site, this complexity gets simplified or selected in order to make it manageable. During this year-long residency I wanted to engage directly with this confusing and troublesome mess. I was interested in drawing out these complex histories and finding alternative ways they could be discussed and adopted into the official history of this bizarre fantasy architecture.
I began by twinning Penrhyn with Whiskey Pete’s Casino, a fellow mock-Norman Castle in Primm, Nevada.
1 minute excerpt from Stone Cold Casanova, full film 15 minutes
Architainment, or architecture as entertainment, is usually a term reserved for themeparks and casinos. Over the year I spent at Penrhyn, my aim was to recontextualize the site as a example of Architainment in order to playfully enter into a new type of discussion. This approach lead to a series of Whiskey Pete inspired provocations, including a mock-Norman disco, Thomas Hopper cake day, Penrhyn casino game, alternative castle-casino tours, and a guide for sexual liaisons in the castle.
Throughout the project I worked with people in and around the site; with people working at the castle, visitors, and others who grew up despising everything it stood for, including some descendants of the Penrhyn Quarry workers (who went on the second longest recorded strike in history).
The year-long twinning of mock-Norman Penrhyn Castle and Whiskey Pete’s Casino, concluded with the commissioning of an Architainment-style-carpet installed in the castle’s Grand Hall. People I had built relationships with contributed stories and designs for this reinterpretation of Penrhyn. The conversations became the visual content for the casino carpet, but also the content of an Architainment Tour I trained volunteers and staff to carry on delivering after the residency had ended.
Here is a blog written over the course of the year-long residency:
Film and Installation
Produced whilst ARTIST IN RESIDENCE at Penrhyn Castle, Bangor May 2015 - April 2016
Supported by the National Trust, the Arts Council Wales, and the Welsh Government
STONE COLD CASANOVA, Exhibited at Penrhyn Castle, Bangor
APRIL - OCTOBER 2016