We are delighted to announce that Bedwyr Williams' film 'Century Egg', commissioned by University of Cambridge as part of the North West Cambridge Development in partnership with Contemporary Art Society and InSite Arts, has been selected for 'British Art Show 8'.
The British Art Show provides a vital overview of the most exciting contemporary art produced in the UK. The curators of British Art Show 8, Anna Colin and Lydia Yee, have selected the work of 42 artists who have made a significant contribution to contemporary art in the UK over the past five years. A central concern of British Art Show 8 is the changing role and status of the physical object in an increasingly digital age.
The film 'Century Egg' was made during Bedwyr Williams' Residency at North West Cambridge Development during 2014 and 2015. The Residency was partnered with the eight University of Cambridge Museums and Botanic Garden. Early in his Residency, Williams decided that he wished to make a film that would weave together imagined narratives from both the development site and the Museum collections. The resulting film explores the theme of time in relation to both the development site and to objects in museum collections. Century Egg is a Chinese delicacy made by preserving eggs in a mixture of clay, ash, salt, quicklime and rice hulls for several weeks or months. It is one of many objects in the film, like the wrapped and suspended bottlenose whale, that is 'a real time time-machine'.
The central scene in the film is a drinks party at Kettle's Yard House that was filmed in January 2015 and involved forty guest participants: a mix of museum staff and members of the North West Cambridge Development team. Williams filmed on location in all of the Museums and the Botanic Gardens. Highlights of working with the University of Cambridge Museums for Williams included filming the calculator collection at the Whipple Museum, the collection of rock slides at the Sedgwick Museum, staging a sword fight between visitor service staff at the Fitzwilliam, filming a Classics supervision in low-light at the Museum of Classical Archaeology and simulating marsh gas in the lake at the Botanic Garden. In talking about his experience Bedwyr Williams said: "Being allowed to go through the staff only doors at the museums was an amazing opportunity, it would have been great to spend the same amount of time on each collection individually."
In 'Century Egg' Bedwyr Williams takes the viewer on an imaginative and witty sojourn through the collections of the University of Cambridge Museums as well as the North West Cambridge Development site. Williams hones in on quirky details and humorous anecdotes highlighting the human stories inscribed in the objects and sites as the most important aspect of the material items we collect and audit.
Opening in Leeds on 9 October 2015, British Art Show 8 will tour to venues in Edinburgh, Norwich and Southampton over the course of 15 months. The exhibition will take place across two venues in Norwich from 24 June - 4 September 2016: Norwich University of the Arts and Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery.
You can watch a short clip from 'Century Egg' above.