Something strange in the neighbourhood

Oriel Blodau Bach

8 October // Hydref – 16 November // Tachwedd 2018

Something Strange in The Neighbourhood

Absent But Not Forgotten is an ongoing, experimental art project formed in 2010 by west Wales artists, Kathryn Campbell Dodd and Jacob Whittaker.  

“Our work explores and alludes to ideas of the paranormal, ghost hunting and the propensity to search for supernatural explanations to unexpected and unexplained phenomena. We are also interested in the associations, clichés and influences of TV and films on these issues.

As we head into the Halloween season, this new work for Oriel Blodau Bach proposes a series of seemingly simple questions to viewers to provoke thoughts about concepts of death, the afterlife and the nature of ghosts and our belief (or not) in them.  

Through a series of posters the viewer is asked to consider the idea of ‘ghosts’, and how they exist in their personal belief systems.”

You are invited to tweet your responses and tag @ABNF13

Oriel Blodau Bach 

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thirteenfridays: St Dogmael’s

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Our 13 week picnic marathon started on Friday 13 April, we’ll be visiting a haunted location every Friday until Friday 13 July 2018.  Each week we set off armed with sound recording equipment, digital cameras and an original Polaroid camera – to take an unfakeable and unique Polaroid image at each location.  This week we headed off in search on the trail of a historic haunting at St Dogmael’s Abbey in Pembrokeshire.

According to author Brian John in his ‘Pembrokeshire Ghost Stories‘ book after the Abbey fell, an inscribed stone was used as a bridge over a small brook in the abbey grounds.  ‘While it was very handy during the day, it had a fearsome reputation at night.  Many people saw a mysterious ghostly figure (referred to simply as “the white lady”) gliding over it at the witching hour of midnight.’.It was this reputation, it is suggested, that prevented the stone being lifted and broken up to be used as building material in the following years when the abbey ruins became a convenient source of stone for local buildings.  Laid facing down the inscriptions on the ‘Sagranus Stone’, as it is called, are very well preserved and the stone can be seen in the nearby parish church of St Thomas.  Read more about the stone here.

450px-Llandudoch_-_St_Dogmaels_-_Saint_Thomas'_Church_Stone_08
Photo By Llywelyn2000 [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, from Wikimedia Commons

After wandering the abbey ruins (and not seeing any white ladies) and being unable to identify the brook’s location, we decided the most appropriate picnic site was in the old abbey church crypt.  The now exposed crypt was once underneath the floor of the presbytery, with a small stairway leading down into the space; the remains of the arches and columns are still visible around the edges. Somebody had been there before us and made symbolic markings on the floor…it reflected the original layout illustrated on the information board in the abbey…a midsummer ritual perhaps; all a bit Dennis Wheatley…

0100As we laid out our picnic feast in the late evening, the sky above us filled with swirling mass of corvids, we held our breath momentarily as they whirled around worried that they might take a fancy to the feast below.

Thankfully they settled in the trees beyond the abbey and we went on to enjoy our picnic of – 13 ingredient four cheese quiche (Flour, Butter, Eggs, Cheddar, Feta, Parmesan, Mozzarella Cheese, Salt, Pepper, Black Olives, Sundried Tomatoes, Tomatoes, Red Pepper); 13 Ingredient broccoli salad (Broccoli, Halloumi, Garlic, Spring Onions, Lentils, Walnuts, Sunflower Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds, Chia Seeds, Olive Oil, Black Pepper, Lettuce, Rocket); 0213 Ingredient grilled pineapple with marscapone (Pineapple, Butter, Soft Brown Sugar, Muscovado Sugar, Lemon Juice, Piri Piri Sauce, Black Pepper, Marscapone, Creme Fraiche, Vanilla Essence, Icing Sugar, Raspberries, Mint Leaves);  13 Pecan Nut Cookies.03

 

thirteenfridays: Carmarthen

13picnicslogo_edited-2

Our 13 week picnic marathon started on Friday 13 April, we’ll be visiting a haunted location every Friday until Friday 13 July 2018.  Each week we set off armed with sound recording equipment, digital cameras and an original Polaroid camera – to take an unfakeable and unique Polaroid image at each location.
IMG_7940This week, to find out more about the ghostly sightings and stories of Carmarthen, we preceded our picnic with a Wednesday evening “Creepy Carmarthen” tour courtesy of Nick Brunger.  Starting outside the guildhall, the towns court, we heard about the history of Carmarthen as a near lawless place akin to the ‘Wild West’, with many a highwayman and vagabond facing justice in the court before their final destination at the gallows in the castle.Walking from Guildhall sq up st Mary’s st we stopped outside the Andrew Price hair salon where Nick regaled us with the story of a contemporary haunting and an experiment in psychic communication. Using cards showing letters of the alphabet the spooky experiment revealed the name of the little girl who haunts the premises as Alice.The tour’s final destination is also the castle, which became the town police station and gaol. Over the years it has been the site of many spooky encounters, even as we gathered in the entrance room and listened to Nick telling the grisly history of the building a door to the upper floor’s old police barracks opened inexplicably.

The most frequent encounters, however, take place in the old gaol cells, where people have reported hearing sobbing, felt a hand on their shoulder and a presence in the room…our group crowded into the small, unlit, dank room to hear of these encounters but nothing was stirring in there that evening…

Having thoroughly enjoyed the tour we struggled to find a suitable location for a picnic in the castle grounds, the opening hours being affected by maintenance work.  So instead our picnic destination was decided by unrelated stories of strange movements and encounters with an apparition of a soldier in the chapel of the former Bishop’s palace, now Carmarthenshire county museum in Abergwili.


01For our picnic we had a 13 ingredient Pesto Pasta salad (Pine nuts, Pasta, Water, Pesto, Basil, Spinach, Tomatoes, Salt, pepper, Feta, Mozzarella, Cheddar, Olive oil ); A 13 ingredient Beetroot & Lentil salad (Puy lentils, Beetroot, Tomatoes, Red Onion, Fennel, Garlic, Flat Leaf Parsley, Kalamon Olives, Red Wine Vinegar; Olive Oil, Lemon Juice, Salt, Pepper); A 13 ingredient Cheese and Potato pie (Flour, Butter, Salt, Pepper, Water, Potatoes, Cheddar, Milk, Mozzarella, Mustard, Nutmeg, Oregano, Thyme); 13 mini Sosmix Sausages; A green salad with 13 baby plum tomatoes.02

Following the savouries we enjoyed a 13 ingredient Rhubarb and Almond tart (Plain flour, Salt, water, Rhubarb, Butter, Caster sugar, Ground almonds, Egg, Brown sugar, Cocoa, Baking powder, Flaked almonds, Icing sugar) and 13 Strawberry and Cream sponges..03

thirteenfridays: Portuguese Portents

Friday 13th October 2017 is the centenary of ‘The Miracle of the Sun‘ in Fatima, Portugal.  We took this as a sign to create a Portuguese style thirteenfridays meal with an added sun theme.

Sardines
13 Spooky Sardines – Simple and tasty with 13 lemon slices.

Sides
We served both starter and main course with a 13 ingredient salad of rocket, spinach, watercress, celery, fennel, cherry tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes, sprouts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, capers, red pepper, and olives along with a side dish of 13 cornichons and more green olives.

Stewandpotato
Paranormal Punahou – A 13 ingredient Portuguese Bean stew (modified to be vegetarian) – red kidney beans, white kidney beans, stock, onion, carrots, potatoes, chopped tomatoes, macaroni, pasata, savoy cabbage, garlic, water and seasoning.   Served with 13 Batatas a Portuguesa (Portuguese fried potato).

Tarts

13 Petrifying Pastéis de Nata (Portuguese Custard Tarts) – A must have Portuguese dessert!

Sweets
Evil Espresso Thirtinis & Scary Sunflower Seed Brittle – a little extra dessert to celebrate the sun theme!

January 13th – Happy Birthday Bernard

Bernard

The Perceptor was invented by my Grandfather Bernard Jones.  My mother, Liz Whittaker, recollects –
“Bernard was an engineer, worked for Renold Chains as a Precision Chain Inspector until 1963 when he left to go into business opening the electrical shop VAX in Claremont Road. He had always invented things – horlicks mixer, hanging scales, designograph (the prototype idea that led to the spirograph), and once he had the shop he invented the Invertest, the electrical safety testing device that won him an award in the early 1970’s from the Inventor’s Society (Manchester ?) who had a regular stand annually at the Ideal Home exhibition where he showed his inventions every year.

Bernard Jones

His interest in arcane subjects grew in his later years. He’d always enjoyed number, maths problems stuff like that, and he noticed there were mathematical patterns in astrology, cartomancy and numerology (his own pet subject) that seemed to be consistent throughout and could be ‘pooled’ to give some kind of predictive possibility. The Perceptor was produced in small numbers and advertised in Exchange and Mart, that would probably have been around 1970/72 I imagine. There were a few newspaper articles about him back then and there was a particular journalist called Peter Everett who interviewed him more than once and was impressed by what he called ‘his giant brain’. That was around the time when Lily got into spiritualism and more or less persuaded him to go along with her. He was never really a spiritualist and if ever asked his religion he said he was a ‘Pythagorean’.”

Watch a documentary about ‘Bernard and the Phone.’ made for the first Absent but not Forgotten exhibition in 2010.

(from ABNF 2010)
Aspects of the exhibition are loosely based on some of my Grandfather’s research into EVP. As an electrical engineer and inventor he was convinced he could make a telephone that would communicate with ‘the other side’. Oddly enough, he, like me, had a barn full of semi-working and broken Hifi and TV – interesting that we both share a fascination with what might be found in the broken, silent or noisy portions of recorded media. Jacob Whittaker.

The interview was processed and edited to include the audio waveform and a sequence of images derived from frequency analyses of the silences within the audio.

“I remember as a kid, whenever we visited my grandparents, he (Bernard) would take great interest in whatever electronic game or gadget us kids were playing with that week… once taking apart a light up Yo-Yo, much to my annoyance, in order to see and explain how the motion was switching the light on…
…Im sure the technologies available now would have interested and excited his ‘Giant Brain’ “.

Fields

Screenshot 2015-11-29 12.58.51During the two weeks between Halloween and Friday 13 November 2015, Absent but not Forgotten explored making new work; experimenting with various ideas, current theories, locations and techniques.

We began a new series of video works, Fields; combining landscape images with digital ‘glitching’ techniques, on our English odyssey through the Oxfordshire countryside.

CCQ Magazine article

mantelpiece“…the paranormal can act as a test bed and a language of questioning and dissent…”

We are really pleased that CCQ Magazine have published an article about the Absent but not Forgotten project on their website. Written by Kirsten Hinks, who has seen the project develop from its first iteration at The Last Gallery in 2010, the article takes a really interesting view on the underlying themes of ABNF.