A sense of place

Groundwork intern Laura Tunbull on Simon Starling and Semiconductor’s films showing at Goonhilly Earth Station on The Lizard.


From May to September this year, historic buildings, beaches and old industrial sites, to name only a few of the special and atmospheric locations, will provide the backdrop for a series of Groundwork exhibitions. I grew up in a family where making art and being part of a creative community was considered really important, but the regimented, whitewashed galleries we were taken to often made art seem remote and unrelatable. The Groundwork project challenges this conventional way of presenting art. Simon Starling and Semiconductor’s pieces of work both find a home in the Old Battery Store at Goonhilly Earth Station, a site announced by the giant satellite dishes that appear on the long stretch of road as you drive from Helston onto the Lizard Peninsula, looming over the moor  – ‘that forest of satellites, where the future ideas of us are mocking you’, as Rachael Allen describes it in her poem ‘Goonhilly’. I’ve driven past these satellite dishes countless times; they are etched into the journey I make a few times a month to visit my grandma. She is in a care home, at the far end of the Lizard, her memories and means of communication slowly being eroded by dementia. Expressionless and lost in her wingback armchair, she reminds me of those satellite dishes, silent and protruding on the landscape. Their sky-angled white domes reach out for signs, messages, a new language. This location, imbued with personal and social meaning, reminds me how powerful our sense of place can be, how many memories and feelings we imprint onto a building, a certain stretch of road, a field of mute satellite dishes. I think this is what makes the Groundwork programme so special. Art appearing in places already inscribed with memories and associations. And whether these additions seem to fit easily into a space or whether the art seems out of place or alien in its new environment, Groundwork is adding layers into landscapes that are always waiting to be reshaped by new meaning.


Written by Groundwork intern Laura Turnbull


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