In The Starry Messenger Bedwyr Williams takes a look down the telescope the other way to focus on the amateur astronomer. He is charmed by the innocence and passion of the hobbyist in a professional world, meticulously piecing together a kit telescope in order to gaze at the cosmos.
The exhibition is a journey through several stages, each as bewildering as the next. Bedwyr uses hidden pockets of sound – rumblings, trickles, birdsong, plonks, wails and store room noises – to lead us through his labyrinth. We pass through giant boulders (Obelix
), by murky ponds (The Depth
), and false walls of terrazzo, moving through microscopic and astronomical spaces (The Starfield Corridor
). The effect of these vast changes in scale is disorientating. This could all be a humorous take on some existential crisis, a crisis that is personified in the centrepiece of the exhibition. Wylo is a small observatory inside which we catch a glimpse of the amateur astronomer’s world, tempered by the melancholic cries of a middle-aged man.
Throughout the exhibition Bedwyr uses a repeated motif of terrazzo, a stone aggregate that is finished by grinding and polishing, and often used for floors and walls. We are invited to imagine ourselves as one of these little stone particles within the terrazzo, representing a “microcosm of the disregarded” and our fragmented universe.
In The Starry Messenger film Bedwyr narrates a psychedelic disjointed trip about a mosaic dentist who has lost his tile teeth, observing the chaotic universe as a tiny particle in a shattered stone surface. Through this continuing terrazzo theme and increasingly wild shifts in perspective there is a returning sense of awe. This human awe is both a wonderment and fear, gazing up at a starry night. It could lead us to a bleak nihilism, were it not for Bedwyr’s humour and light touch that makes us willing participants on this bizarre journey.
Like Galileo and his celestial observations published in Sidereus Nuncius
(Starry Messenger), Bedwyr first presented this large-scale installation in Venice as the representing artist for Cymru yn Fenis Wales at the Venice Biennale 2013. The Starry Messenger was co-curated by Oriel Davies and MOSTYN and commissioned by the Arts Council of Wales. The exhibition’s tour is supported by the Colwinston Charitable Trust and the Arts Council of Wales.
23 May, 11am – 4pm
An Amateur Symposium considering The Starry Messenger