Penrhyn Castle appoints three new artists in residence

From Monday 7 December, Penrhyn Castle will become home once more to three exciting new artists, briefed to delve into Penrhyn’s past.

Following the success of the initial phase of the Artists in Residence project, the team at Penrhyn Castle received over seventy applications from across the globe to be part in the second phase of this three year collaboration with the Welsh Arts Council - from which three artists have been chosen.

Lisa Heledd Jones, Robyn Woolston and Joanne Wardrop will begin in December and will work within the Castle and in the community on a part-time basis until the end of April 2016.

Exploring history and relationships through art

Their brief is to tell some of the previously untold histories of the site and re-visit other known stories through their art. They will delve into Penrhyn’s past, the difficult history of sugar and slate fortunes, slavery and social and industrial unrest that surrounds the Castle; and reframe them for a 21st century audience.

Nerys Jones, General Manager at Penrhyn Castle explains the role art can play in presenting these stories, and in the experience of visiting a historic site:

“Art has a way of making us tackle difficult conversations; question our surroundings, of expressing emotion and telling stories in different ways.

“Emotional engagement should be the pinnacle of every visitor’s experience with us, not a few facts here and there or mild appreciation for furniture displayed behind ropes. We want to transform the visit to such a level that Penrhyn reaches the point of provoking real emotional reaction; whether through the controversial story or the absurdity of the building itself.”

“The result should be enlightening, refreshing and may even offer some surprises.”

Why choose this project?

Lisa Heledd Jones, whose previous work has examined personal narratives using digital media and storytelling, explains what drew her to this exciting project:

Lisa Heledd Jones, during a recent audio project
Lisa Heledd Jones, Artist in residence at penrhyn Castle
Lisa Heledd Jones, during a recent audio project

“My previous work has included the stories of hospital wards, closed rural schools, football fans, friendship and a lighthouse. I’m excited that the next place will be a castle.

“My mam and dad love a castle, monuments of status and battle that tell stories of our history just by standing there. Our holidays were spent towing an orange and cream caravan to various sites of special interest around Britain. As long as there was a giant pencil at the end, I was pretty happy.
“Penrhyn Castle was not one we visited. Its status and battle too close to home and part of our own family history.

“But there’s so much I don’t know and want to find out. My plan is to spend time in and around Bethesda, Bangor and the castle itself, listening very carefully to what those places and their people, those who live there now and have lived there in the past, have to share.”

Penrhyn is the first National Trust property to benefit from a new, three-year collaboration between National Trust Wales and Arts Council Wales to bring ‘live’ art and artists into contact with an historic setting and its visitors.

What next?

Following this second phase the outcomes will form an exhibition at the Castle in 2016 and steer the project into it's final year.

You can also follow the artists throughout their residency through clicking on their profile pages HERE.