Friday, 26 November 2010

Antonia Dewhurst

Antionia Dewhurst - Gimme Shelter series - seen here

I have recently been intrigued by the work of artist, Antonia Dewhurst, currently studying at Coleg Menai in Bangor. I am particularly interested in her Gimme ShelterTŷ unnos series of models, actions and performances. The term Tŷ unnos means One night house in English. It is an old Welsh tradition; if one could build a house in a night on common land and have a fire smoking in the chimney by morning, the land could be claimed - this feat having been accomplished, one could then claim the land around the house as far as an axe could be thrown from each corner of the house.

The artist has made a series of models for shelters using photographs she has taken of local shelters and buildings. I wanted to find out a little more about her ideas and she kindly agreed to answer a few questions.

KC: I really like your 'Gimme Shelter' series of models. Could you tell me a little bit about how you came to work with this concept. 

AD: I've been concerned for some time with questions of where or what home may be, this comes from my own rather ambivalent feelings about where constitutes home. During the summer I did a lot of running in the hills around Llanfairfechan and the Tŷ unnos idea came to me fully formed, it was simply something I felt I needed to do whether or not it constituted "art". 

KC: I really like the technique of physically making the models from photographs - kind of hybrids I guess. Are the models things in themselves or maquettes for larger structures? 

AD: The model-making arose from the need to explore the concept as fully as I could. Initially I considered chopping up dolls houses, then, while researching architectural model supplies on the web, I came across cardboard models for model railways. Neither of these options were quite right, but it occurred to me that I've been photographing doors, windows and corrugated iron for years and I could print these onto card and make my own, uncompromised, designs.

The models aren't maquettes, they are structures in their own right, though they do explore the aesthetic of how the Tŷ unnos may look. It was important to me that they are made from photographic material collected from the local area so the aesthetic is specifically a North Wales one.

Antonia Dewhurst - Gimme Shelter series - seen here

KC: Where do you think the project is going? I saw the images of the work in Estate Agent windows - what's the idea with that? It seems very pertinent in the current climate...

Antonia Dewhurst - Accent Properties - seen here

AD: The project is very much based around actually building a Tŷ unnos on March 19th 2011, and this is likely to represent a peak of activity and energy though it may not actually be the most important element of the project as a whole; I remain open-minded about that. 

At the moment I am exploring other aspects of the project such as the estate agency angle. One of the characteristics of the original Tŷ unnos is absent from my project and that is the idea of encroachment. The originals were squats in order to annex a pocket of land. I have permission for my Tŷ unnos so I am exploring other ways to encroach, one of which is to introduce the models and photographs of the finished Tŷ unnos into estate agencies. I'm hoping this will impart a certain gravity to the project; the models tip-toe around the edge of the rather romantic and sentimental aspects of home, I would like the project also to be concerned with darker themes like ownership, encroachment and the universal need for shelter.

I have been extending the video element of the project, building minimal shelters in two different locations in the village using deliberately inferior materials.

Antonia Dewhust - Woodland Shelter 2 - seen here

I'm looking forward to see the outcomes of the project, thanks to Antonia for her time.


  1. Fantastic intelligent and informative, as always your blog is an inspiration. Thank you

  2. Thanks you so much Hazel! I really like these little huts!


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