Arts News


The Festival of Britain and Walsall - Artist Sian Macfarlane, University of Wolverhampton


Tuesday 17th Aug 7pm

Artsfest Online and the Black Country Studies Centre are pleased to present a series of events commemorating the 70 years anniversary of the Festival and its impact in the Black Country.

‘We Are Illuminated’, undertaken with The New Art Gallery Walsall, was a project concerned with the leisure life of Walsall; the history of the cinemas, fairs, Walsall Illuminations, and carnival queens in the area, exploring Walsall centre, and surrounding locations to situate the archival research in the present day. In this research, Sian uncovered a script for a Walsall play, performed at the Festival of Britain, 1951. This lengthy and detailed document presented the history of Walsall in a series of tableau, exploring key moments in Walsall’s past. The enactment of this script, with local students, became a key part of the project. The work resulted in an exhibition within the gallery, of video and original artefacts, exploring this rich history.

In this talk Sian Macfarlane will outline the research into the Festival of Britain and Walsall that was undertaken as part of this project, and explore the ways in which this became a key element of creative work.

Sian Macfarlane is an artist working with photography, video, performance and archive. Her work concerns hidden histories, folk lore customs and beliefs, and the rituals found within domestic spaces, activating these archival elements through the exploration of synchronicity, building new relationships between the historic and the now. She has exhibited at the New Art Gallery Walsall, Photofusion Brixton, and performed in multiple festivals such as Supersonic Festival Birmingham and Hunters Moon Festival Leitrim. She performs live under the name SWLLWS.

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Photo, Crowds enjoying Garden of Light, by TILT. Lumiere London 2016, produced by Artichoke, supported by Mayor of London. Credit Matthew Andrews 2016.

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Photo, Jennie Gill, Yorkshire Artspace, Sheffield. Photo Our Favourite Places / Nigel Barker for Yorkshire Artspace.