Bedwyr Williams - The Return of the Dinghy King

27 Feb 2010

Event times

From 5pm

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Substation Project Space

Margate, United Kingdom


Travel Information

  • Half-hourly trains from London Victoria and St Pancras. London-Margate takes 1 hour and 30-40 minutes.
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From one lapsed resort to another, Bedwyr Williams is bringing Colwyn Bay's Seaside Shaman on a day trip to Margate in order to cure its ills.


The Return of the Dinghy King, which, as you can tell from the picture, has an absurdly comedic twist, is a deadly serious live art performance involving spoken word, animation, smoke and sound.

The character of Dinghy King is loosely based on the phenomenon of the Cargo Cults, which developed primarily in remote parts of the pacific region at the time when tribal societies first began to encounter technologically advanced cultures.

They built effigies of planes and runways in an attempt to lure ancestral spirits, which they believed would bring wealth in the form of cargo. Williams' take on this comes from his choosing to return to live in the small town where he grew up in North Wales.

Drawing on the parochial and global, Williams, like the cargo cult, enters the realm of the absurd, imbuing everyday objects with a sense of magic and ritual.

In fact, the performance touches on the absurdity of all art and its tendency to transform and exoticise. Like the tribal societies of the pacific region, artists are always responding to modern advances in order to evoke or provoke something.

As well as the last few years' attempts to revive the Margate through contemporary art, there have also been a number of attempts to evoke the spirits of its past in order to bring back Dreamland, the Pier, or the Trams. The Dinghy King, combining shaman, the day-tripper and contemporary artist, embodies these apparently conflicting attitudes and the cultural hierarchies they carry with them.

Bedwyr Williams was shortlisted for Becks Futures 2006, and has shown at the ICA, London, CCA, Glasgow and Arnolfini, Bristol. He represented Wales at the 2005 Venice Biennale with a project called 'Basta'. His work involves stand-up comedy, sculpture and painting, posters and photography. He is represented by STORE, London.



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