Ruined County Durham buildings become 'fantastical follies'

  • Published
Winding HouseImage source, Steve Messam
Image caption,
The actual installations exist only for a matter of hours

A landscape artist has turned ruined buildings into "fantastical follies".

Steve Messam's previous works include a paper bridge strong enough to hold a car, and suspending miles of yellow sails over a former lead mining site.

For his latest project, colourful fabric transforms abandoned buildings in remote locations around Weardale and Teesdale into temporary artworks.

Giant photographs of the installations are on display on giant billboards around Killhope lead mining museum.

The exhibition, entitled The Architect of Ruins, consists of massive billboards and runs until 12 September.

Image source, Steve Messam
Image caption,
Textile forms fill or wrap the buildings
Image source, Steve Messam
Image caption,
Photographs "capture the moment when the landscape was changed"

Mr Messam said: "The project transformed a number of ruined structures in the landscape temporarily into fantastical follies and visual landmarks.

"By highlighting these often-overlooked structures it aimed to reveal the layers of narrative that make up the story of the land, from mining and agriculture, to the transformative effect of the railways and the role of landowners."

Image source, Steve Messam
Image caption,
Each of the works is site-specific
Image source, Steve Messam
Image caption,
The billboards are displayed around various locations at Killhope

The use of textiles adds form and colour that "imagines them in new ways", he said.

And as many of ruined buildings or structures are fragile, its use enables "significant forms to be created without the need for fixing into the structure of the building or damaging it in any way".

Image source, Steve Messam
Image caption,
The use of textiles means the structures are not damaged
Image source, Steve Messam
Image caption,
People have to "move through the landscape" in order to experience the exhibition, the artist said

The project began during the first lockdown in 2020.

He said: "With all other work postponed and a desire to stay local, it became an ideal way to explore the local landscape and create new work."

Image source, Steve Messam
Image caption,
The exact locations of the temporary artworks have not been revealed
Image source, Steve Messam
Image caption,
The exhibition runs until 12 September

Follow BBC North East & Cumbria on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Send your story ideas to northeastandcumbria@bbc.co.uk.

Related Internet Links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.