Abandoned copper mines are the inspiration for Hollow, an interactive work exploring destruction and construction
While Port Talbot is facing the demise of its legacy steel manufacturing industry, across the Brecon Beacons in Aberystwyth artist/architectural designer Jenny Hall has unveiled her latest work, Hollow, which seeks ’to connect the process of extracting material from one place to the process of building something somewhere else’.
Taking abandoned copper mines as a source of inspiration, the exhibition explores ’the creative destruction involved in the act of construction’. The mine is represented as a large hollow sculpture in the gallery and cardboard boxes represent the ‘ore’ that has been extracted.
The public is invited to stack and restack the loose cardboard boxes in different configurations, made possible by little magnets. At different stages throughout the exhibition the sculpture will be rebuilt. Constructed on a large mirrored floor, it is intended to make us consider the relationship between the spaces we create above and below the ground.
’Mines have faded in our minds as we no longer reach for the coal scuttle or travel by steam engine,’ Hall says. ’But we continue to rapidly build a world on the surface of the same size if not the same shape as the subterranean world that we excavate.’
While no mining is involved in steel manufacturing, the current news cycle brings a poignancy to this exhibition, with its inspiration rooted in copper. One can only hope that such creative construction - although perhaps more practical than artistic - may yet come from the looming expiration of another great metal procurement and production industry.
Hollow is at Gallery 1 of Aberystwyth Arts Centre until 7 May.