Laura Ford unveils a series of new sculptures inside Wales’ iconic Castell Coch [red castle], as visitors are invited to discover over 20 works created by one of the Uk’s leading contemporary artists.
Commissioned by the 3rd Marquess of Bute in 1870s + built by William Burges on the foundations of an original 13th century fortress, Castell Coch is either a gothic fairy tale or a monument to medieval endurance, depending on your romantic inclination. Seen by many as an architectural folly, ford riffs on the castle’s fabled past to imagine a new generation of anthropomorphic inhabitants.
A meticulously handcrafted rabble of otherworldly interlopers are concealed + revealed within the castle’s architecture as figures appear cloaked, crouched or soaring from the rafters. ford’s reinterpretation of the folk lore and folk art, which is so intrinsic to the public perception of the castle, takes on a fantastical and sometimes sinister edge. Rendered in bronze, jesmonite and ceramic and clothed in brilliant swathes of wool and felt, her child-sized figures are inherently tactile. Their postures are pointedly and recognisably human.
Ford imagines a direct conversation between the past and present; one where parrot-children flock to disrupt festivities in the banqueting hall; monkeys run amok in lady bute’s chamber and knights are seemingly felled in the courtyard. Each tableau is a testament to Ford’s accomplishments as both a sculptor and storyteller.