Walker & Bromwich at Penrhyn Castle
Zoe Walker and Neil Bromwich are a collaborative artistic practice, who had access to Penrhyn Castle from late 2016, researching, creating and preparing for an exhibition that was unveiled at the castle in July 2017. Their residency formed the third and final year of the collaborative project.
Zoe and Neil are known internationally for their sculptural works, participatory events and exhibitions that invite audiences to imagine better worlds. They create work that leads audiences to examine their relationship to the environment they inhabit and reflect on larger global situations.
The aim of the final year of the project was to pull all the elements together, which culminated in a large-scale sculptural work based on the quarry landscape and sited within the castle. The event featured a live performative launch event with Penrhyn Male Voice Choir, workshops, discussions and community interactions. Their work had a connection to the manual labour that the castle was built on, and the Great Strike, which historically held a future legacy for workers’ rights.
12 stories by Manon Steffan Ros
In 2018, Penrhyn Castle launched a collection of new fictional pieces '12 Stories' by the author Manon Steffan Ros. These fictional creations were Manon’s own response to the difficult history of the castle and its origins steeped in the Jamaican slave trade and the slate quarry industry of North Wales.
Growing up in the community
Growing up locally and attending secondary school in Bethesda itself, Manon experienced first-hand the deep-rooted feelings of hatred towards the castle that once was home to the Pennant family. Manon felt her own relationship to the castle to be torn, feeling an intense draw whilst also feeling a sense of guilt at the obvious opulence and difficult historical ties to the sugar plantations in Jamaica and the lives of the quarrymen of Bethesda at the turn of the 20th century.
Stepping away from the written word
Manon, a successful published author, presented some of the 12 stories through other mediums, including both visual and musical interpretations. A book was created to accompany the installation, which featured a model of the Keep made from sugar and embroidered quotes from passages discovered in letters from Lord Penrhyn to his plantation foremen in Jamaica.