As part of Cardiff Contemporary 2014, artist and designer Alex Rich presents a series of interventions throughout the city. Starting with visual research and taking his starting point as the Cardiff maritime experience and the legacies of international trading.
Working with g39 and based at the iconic pink tower in Cardiff bay. This distinctive, elevated building was designed to be used by event organisers to start and control races in the estuary, but is little used. It became Alex’s studio for the duration of the festival. His interventions and observations allow us to experience the city and the sea in new ways as sites for activity, deep thought and play.
Under the umbrella title Reflections Towards a Well-tempered Environment he explored the facets of communication as a tool within our social fabric, manifesting itself in collaborations across disciplines. The thought process, research and planning took Alex all over Cardiff in pursuit of resonant sites, and the alternative was always Possible Pavilions.
In a second response Rich looked at the legacy of Spillers in Cardiff. Asking; what is a ship's biscuit anyway?
Having always made the association with Spillers the oldest record shop in the world (1894). He was intrigued as to the other Spillers, the flour mill on the Bute East Dock. Acquiring a bakery in 1859 to sell ship's biscuits to the boundless ships passing through Cardiff, Spillers were also responsible for commissioning engineer Oscar Faber to design the modernist concrete silo which punctuated the skyline until it was demolished to make way for the docklands redevelopment.
With his fondness for the existence of artefacts as humble as the biscuits made to accompany explorers on their ambitious crossings, prompted Alex’s desire to savour this simple, essential component to such adventures. While biscuits of all shapes and sizes fill our shelves, from machine-made to artisan, all share similar ingredients.
Finding the recipe amongst collections of museums, prompted Alex to do a test baking of different compositions of flours, raising agents and salt in several batches that were served at g39’s Breakfast Club in November 2014.
Cooking is an action that anticipates the consumption and evacuation of food. Similarly, the design, construction, and occupation of a building should be related to its eventual destruction rather than to its functional or aesthetic endurance in the futureCedric Price
During the month, a shipping container was delivered to The Hayes, with the doors open, a photograph of his biscuit, stamped with the word Spillers. The container was the site of conversations and discussions about the site and Cardiff’s status as a port. It marks the world he stumbled on in recipe books, marking the place where the land meets the sea.
Reflections Towards a Well-tempered Environment also happened across a number of other sites, on The Hayes, Wood Street and at g39.