‘Golden Venture’

Jill Randall  “Golden Venture” – An Artists Residency at Parys Mountain Copper Mine, National Waterfront Museum, Swansea, 2nd July – 18th Sept 2011.

This major solo exhibition was the culmination of Jill Randall’s 3-year Artists Residency at Parys Mountain Copper Mine, Amlwch, Anglesey, once the world’s leading centre of copper production. It was developed in conjunction with the Curator Andrew Deathe, and supported by Awards from the University of Salford.
Parys Mountain is an extraordinary place, an extreme environment, with its own “terrible beauty” of amazing colours,  a toxic landscape where corrosion and time are accelerated. Beneath the skin of the landscape lie hidden voids, the vast underground network of abandoned mine shafts where peculiar life forms grow in the complete absence of light.
The heart of the exhibition was a series of 10 huge, brightly-coloured drawings created in and by the abandoned underground mine workings. Physically and practically very difficult to site and retrieve, they have been carried down rickety ladders in pitch blackness. The exhibition also included prints from etching plates bitten in sulphurous pools , sculpture inspired by mining and geological processes, video and archival maps, and was created especially for the exhibition space.
The exhibition provided an opportunity to disseminate to new audiences the outcomes of an Artist/Industry partnership project, and demonstrated how contemporary art practice can be used to expose and reinterpret information about materials science , unlocking the creative and intellectual potential of copper. It exhibited archival materials from Amlwch, Anglesey for the first time, placing visual art works next to historic and industrial objects and artefacts connected with the copper industry.
The bilingual exhibition catalogue  contained a major commissioned essay from University of Salford Lecturer and Researcher  Brendan Fletcher, and an essay from Robert Protheroe-Jones, a scientist  from The National Waterfront Museum, Swansea. The catalogue described the context and making of the work, and  copies were available free to museum visitors, providing an important legacy for the project.
The exhibition attracted 75,000 visitors and offered alternative interpretations of industrial heritage through practical sculpture workshops and Artists Talks to large numbers of people across age ranges during the course of the show.

….”Randall’s residency at Parys Mountain re-examines this important site and her response is revelatory.  Here is a site that allows us to see the planet as a living organism, one that has been plundered in order to reap its mineral harvest and her work forces us to muse on the unhelpful distinction between the organic and the inorganic; it is not only flora and fauna that live and breathe. It is also typical of her approach that though copper may have been the rich seam that helped give meaning and definition to this place she now finds beauty in the toxicity, residue and slurry, the earth that was left behind.  However the success of the project lies in the way she negotiates this terrain and is able, also, to present a paean to our industrial past, to the workers and labourers who toiled and helped build Amlwch and Swansea, and how this rich seam of copper forged communities of people tied to the earth and alive to its riches.”

(From the catalogue essay by Brendan Fletcher, Artist, Writer and Lecturer on the BA Visual Arts Course at the University of Salford.)