The human desire to fly is the theme of this year’s Tatton Park Biennial, its curator tells Laura Davis
FROM Ancient Greek stories of Icarus with his wings of wax and feathers to the excitement of looking out of an aeroplane window to see the cotton wool clouds below, humans have always had an urge to fly.
It’s this impulse that urged the Wright Brothers on as their rudimentary flyer bounced along the sands at Kitty Hawk and makes the competitors of the annual Birdman of Bognor contest leap into the sea.
At this year’s Tatton Park Biennial, which opens to the public on Saturday, it has inspired a space-flight simulator, a rook’s nest for people, a crash-landed flying saucer and a false bridge held aloft by helium balloons.
The most physically ambitious of the works is the tail-end of a real BAE 146-200 that is being transformed into a “living art work” by Juneau Projects’s Philip Duckworth and Ben Sadler.
The 10m section of the aeroplane, which once flew from Manchester Airport in the skies above its current resting place, acts as a makeshift studio and base for the artists, who, according to the narrative behind work, are trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world.
“They said we want an aeroplane and we want to live in it,” says Jordan Kaplin, who is co-curating the Biennial with Danielle Arnaud, a fellow member of London-based commissioning and curatorial body Parabola.
“I can’t believe how many phone calls I’ve made saying ‘have you got an aeroplane’?.”
Juneau Projects, who exhibited at LIverpool’s FACT arts centre back in 2006, will use the plane’s exterior as a canvas on which to paint wildlife throughout the festival’s 20-week run. They are one of 13 artists or artist groups commissioned to create pieces under the theme “Flights of Fancy” for what is Tatton’s third Biennial.
Kaplan and Arnaud approach artists from across the world based on their previous work and reputation, inviting them to submit a proposal for work as well as offering an open call to artists based in the North West.
“We don’t commission people until they’ve been to visit the site and they’ve walked around and been able to appreciate the scale and the requirements – just about everything on the site is listed so in a way there are more things you can’t do that you can,” explains Kaplan.
“Everything requires permission. We have to get approval from National Trust and the planning authority as well as carry out tree surveys, bat surveys and bird surveys.”