“We were a people bred on legends.”
— R.S. Thomas
A Portrait of a Landscape
There is the saying, "when an Englishman arrives at a place, the first thing he builds is a store; when an American arrives at a new place, he builds a school. But when the Welsh arrive, the very first thing they do is build a chapel." Or that famous Welsh architect Frank Lloyd Wright said “[I] Regard it as just as desirable to build a chicken house as to build a cathedral.”
The idea of sacred lands was distant theme that hung in the air - this idea that had inspired the Welsh to travel to Patagonia in the hope of at last finding a place where they could recover their traditions, practice their religion, and sleep dreaming of Golden hills.
This sense of the sacred in the land that comes from the roots of Celtic spirituality was the impetus for the project "Look You Here Now" that became "The Clockhouse".
“Time has stopped, says the Black Lion clock, and Eternity has begun.”
— Dylan Thomas
One Point that Contains All
A small house | An intimate performance
- One point that contains all / Un punto que lo contiene todo / Un pwynt sydd yn cynnwys oll -
Multimedia artist, Deborah Claire Procter was inspired by a quote from poet Sanders Lewis saying that he wrote his poem in praise of "un-inhabited places" and to "houses of leaf not of wood, stone or nobility."
The first "Clock House" appeared, on a full moon on Friday 3rd August 2012, arriving overnight evoking many questions in its placement is a familiar place, and evoking ideas about immigration, place, culture, home and memory.
Beginning with this quote from Sanders Lewis, and a long held fascination with the line between land and sea at Aberystwyth Harbour, and how we notice our landscape, I began working on a project called "Look You Hear Now" in 2011. In May 2012 I received an Arts Council of Wales 'Small Project Grant". This allowed me to develop the idea working with composer Oscar Edelstein significantly developed and elaborated the themes, connecting strongly with ideas of home and the stories of people who have to, or choose to leave. If it all has to fit in one bag, what do you take with you? Your language? Your culture? Your skills? Your recipes? Your music? Deborah Claire Procter
In 2002 I made "Seapiece" - a movement installation on the stone jetty. Again I want to celebrate this landscape & this meeting of land & sea. The water between the wooden jetty & stone harbour mirrors the kind of "leap" that a person makes when they leave their country like the Welsh who went to Patagonia. It symbolizes the imaginary & intellectual leaps that occur when a society are cultural & self-reflective, like the Wales R.S.Thomas refers to when he said "We were a people bred on legends."
— Deborah Claire Procter
Structure in a Spiral
Working together with composer Oscar Edelstein, he took the initial ideas and created a structure for the Clock House. The cycle in a spiral of seven parts.
1) The Arrival
2) A Bottle in the Sea
3) My Kingdom for a Horse that Talks
4) In another land Gaucha (Patagonia)
5) We Have to Jump
6) A Ghost Haunts Europe
7) You Have to Leave
Clock House - Aberystwyth - A thin place. A full moon.
So in the tipping rain on August the 2nd 2012, the house was erected - a miracle of cordless drills and determination, blind faith and desperation.
In the doing, in the siting of this small wooden house there was discovered a tension that lay between inside and outside that I had never anticipated. When the sun was shining being inside had no sense. Yet when it was raining being inside had an immediate meaning. Questions rapidly arose about shelter, nature, home - what do you take with you? Recipes?
"We baked bread. They brought meat and eggs", is what the Welsh said of their relationship with their "brothers", the indigenous Indians.
When the audience was inside and the activity of the performers was outside, again there was meaning. Witnessing - watching activity outside when you are inside; or watching activity inside when you are outside. Watching someone standing in the rain when you are dry is something particular. There is a strong sensation of weather, temperature, air, and wind that intensifies around your skin. Mixtures of feelings develop - relief at the safety of being sheltered, and ambiguity that others are in the rain. This was the play as much as any text.
The Celtic Christians talked of "thin places" - places where one could feel close to God and the divine. The Clock House was part of this kind of mysticism, born in the mystery of years of looking out to sea, and of trying to understand the phenomenon of the Welsh community in Patagonia or "Yma o hyd" as say the Welsh - "Still here".
My initial plan had been to programme the installation for a Bank Holiday weekend which had a full moon (the Jubilee Weekend). However in all the planning and combining of different factors the dates had to change and I forgot the idea of a full moon.
After the downpour of rain in which we erected the house I was nervous to see how it was in the night. At 3am in the morning we got up to see how it was.
As chance would have it as myself and Oscar Edelstein walked down to the harbour from the town centre there was something different about the sky. Turning the corner and walking toward the harbour we could see Pen Dinas hill slightly glowing as if edged by silver. Within a few minutes the moon was edging out from behind the hill and was clearly as full as full can be. The sensation was incredible.
It was entirely serendipitous, something that I had hoped for but dropped in all the logistics of planning the pilot. So this was like an extra gift and more so when I remember that the painting “Man and Woman Contemplating the Moon” by Casper Fredrich David had been one of my original sources of inspiration, and also that this painting was sited by playwright Samuel Beckett as the source of “Waiting for Godot" which has been one of my long term sources of inspiration.
Original Idea: Deborah Claire Procter
General Concept Development: Deborah Claire Procter & Oscar Edelstein
Sound Design: Oscar Edelstein
Text: Deborah Claire Procter & Oscar Edelstein
Actor: Gwion Ap Iago
Photos: Keith Morris & Anthony Griffiths
Funding: Arts Council of Wales / Cyngor Tref Aberystwyth Town Council
Sponsorship: Dyfed Alarms, Mount Trading Co, Speedy Rentals, Hencilla Canworth Insurance & Cwmwythig Farmhouse
A hut made of simple materials became a space that provoked a contemplation of inside and outside.
People stopped to ask what it was about, perhaps lingering a little longer on their walk and noticing for a moment more the ever changing sea and sky as they contemplated this counterpoint to their everyday landscape.
Inside the walls were covered with ideograms like a new language, a new alphabet - like the aleph of Jorge Luis Borges where all is contained in one place, and the floor was full of old cookery and house 'n' home books.
With security cameras like eyes, this strange beast came to perch at Aberystwyth Harbour for a few days and then, maybe with the dolphins, swam away.
Inside the walls were covered with ideograms like a new language, a new alphabet - like the aleph of Jorge Luis Borges where all is contained in one place, and the floor was full of old cookery and house 'n' home books
I want my artistic work to create new spaces for people to be able to reconfigure their experience of the world - spaces that have new agendas or no agendas, in other words it’s not a church or a shopping centre, a museum or a street.
— Deborah Claire Procter
When the audience was inside and the activity of the performers was outside, again there was meaning.
Witnessing - watching activity outside when you are inside; or watching activity inside when you are outside.
Watching someone standing in the rain when you are dry is something particular. There is a strong sensation of weather, temperature, air, and wind that intensifies around your skin. Mixtures of feelings develop - relief at the safety of being sheltered, and ambiguity that others are in the rain. This was the play as much as any text.
Oscar Edelstein - Composer / Pianist
“His works are characterized by transcending the limits between the popular and the academic.”
— Diario Hoy, La Plata
Argentinean composer, pianist, researcher and director (Born 1953 in La Paz, Entre Rios - Argentina)
Oscar Edelstein is an original contemporary composer from Argentina, well known for creativity and inventiveness, and frequently described as leading Latin America's avant-garde.
He is a pianist, conductor, and researcher whose compositions are both acoustic and electro-acoustic. Alongside orchestral and ensemble works - he has made over forty works for theatre and dance, and over fourteen operas. As a composer Edelstein has a fascination with the dialogue between art and science, and is dedicated to developing a new ways to think about composition, aesthetics, pitch and harmony.
This research includes creating a system of control and notation of the acoustic space, which he calls The Acoustic Grid, and with a team of scientists making an entirely acoustic system of amplification using the scientific principal of Sonic Crystals which resulted in a first opera in 2019, "Viaje a la Cathedral de Santa Monica de los Venados: Visiones I" in collaboration with physicist Manuel Eguia and the team of LAPSO (Acoustics and Sound Perception Lab).
In terms of style Edelstein's music is hard to categorize and he is known for the frequency with which he crosses the lines between genres. In a newspaper interview about his disc "Dos Improntus" he said, "No matter how strong I am within the field of contemporary music, I have always felt like a popular musician who studied. I always take care to look at music from the point of view of sensitivity and emotion."
Deborah Claire Procter - Multimedia Artist
“To the singer Procter it is only necessary to be grateful to her for the opportunity the audience celebrated of re-discovering the incomparable and inimitable singularity of the beauty of the human voice. Her intervention [...] was simply dazzling for the technical solvency in the range and her versatility in having intervened in a work that demands superlative competences in order to translate the complex interior world that it expresses.”
— Marín, EL DIARIO
Deborah Claire Procter is an interdisciplinary artist, actor and video-maker from Cardiff (Wales), and a Creative Wales Award winner. She began her training in theatre, and worked with companies like Theatre Alibi. Simultaneously she developed a love for experimental theatre, creating many solos and duets that play with perspective and scale, mixing ideas from theatre, dance, sculpture and performance art, and incorporating the use of various kinds of projection. Her work has been seen in galleries such as the Ferens (Hull), Oriel (Cardiff), and Spacex (Exeter), and theatres like the Hemsley (Madison) and the Museum Theatre (Madras).
She maintains a strong interest and practice in movement, including contemporary and post-modern dance, as well as yoga and martial arts, and has trained extensively in improvisation and performance with Ruth Zaporah, Gardzienice Theatre, and Skinner Release Dance with Gaby Agis. In 2003, with the help of commission by Welsh Independent Dance, she began making videos with dancers and performers, one of which "Am I This?" was chosen for The Dance on Screen Festival at The Place, London. Since then she has made over ten videos, shooting in locations in Wales, Argentina and Austria.
She was a part-time and guest lecturer in many institutions, including teaching performance at University of Glamorgan, and voice for broadcast journalists at the University of Wales, Cardiff, and has taught many youth and community groups,
In 2004, she received a grant from Wales Arts International to go to Argentina and began collaborating with composer Oscar Edelstein, as a vocalist and video maker. She is currently working on a new opera with Edelstein about the links between Wales and Argentina.
Dylan Lewis (Mayor of Aberystwyth), Paul Anthony Williams, Helen Gethin (Centre for Performance Research), Catherine Young, John Blake (Aberystwyth University Print Room), Norman Williams (Cambrian News), Y Hafod Guesthouse Aberystwyth, Ceredigion County Council, Universidad de Quilmes & students of Centre for Performance Research summer school.
Seapiece (2002) by Deborah Claire Procter
Rivers and Mirrors (2006) - Deborah Claire Procter & Oscar Edelstein