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 title is taken from Reyner Banham’s book, Architecture of the Well-Tempered Environment and Banham was a pioneer in arguing that technology, human needs, and environmental concerns must be considered an integral part of architecture. The thought process, research and planning took Alex all over Cardiff in pursuit of resonant sites, and the alternative was always Possible Pavilions.
For the finale of the project, and after a month of using the pink tower as a studio, Alex organised A Flare for a Horn at the close of the month-long festival. At sunset, Eurig Morgan, a cornet player, played to the sea from the pink hut.
It was an ode, a call and response as the sun set. A reminder that the shipping routes from Cardiff fuelled the industrial revolution and welcomed back goods from all over the globe. It was a question about whether we become homogenised within a world where things seem to be freighted wherever there is a demand.
The discovery of the New World led to an extensive exchange of cultural consequences, from diseases to a host of new ingredients. Before 1750, it was thought that you could not grow plants or trees outside their native habitat, with this belief maintaining a profitable spice trade well into the 19th Century.
The expansion of possibilities should never allow complacency.
Reflections Towards a Well-tempered Environment also happened across a number of other sites, on Cardiff Bay Barrage, Wood Street and at g39.