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Laying the Bounds

Helen de Main
'northcabin' was a temporary programme of newly commissioned artworks for a small, semi-circular operating cabin on Redcliffe Bridge, Bristol. The programme was developed to give emerging artists the chance to make new work for an architecturally unusual space.

Laying the Bounds
The work consisted of a metal structure made of panels bolted together and then treated with a number of different finishes. Textures and layers of colours were built up and then sanded back, which created a multitude of visual associations, which referenced the urbane landscape surrounding the cabin.

By encasing the cabin from within, the artist demonstrated the different traditions in which existing buildings are re-developed and come to contain distinct other forms. The work created a second space inside the cabin with a contrasting set of references, creating a tension between the two structural forms, which set out to challenge perceived hierarchies between architectural structures.

About the artist
Helen de Main is a British artist based in Glasgow, where she completed her MFA at the Glasgow School of Art in 2008. Her work looks at ideas associated with public space, architecture and development and the relation these have to power, movement and control within in urban and rural environments in an attempt to understand the effects that objects in our surroundings can have upon humanity. For details of recent exhibitions visit Helen’s website.

About the Site
northcabin was based in a disused operating cabin on Redcliffe Bridge. The bridge was erected in 1939 and replaced a ferry, which connected Redcliffe with the City Centre of Bristol. The north cabin still contains the disused machinery that used to operate the bridge, which is now electronically controlled from the south cabin. Redcliffe is located in the old harbor district of the city, once a bustling district it now serves as a transitory space between the center and the suburbs. The space provides an intersection between road, river, and pedestrian routes.

northcabin opened up the possibility for other individuals and organisations to use the space for the display of contemporary visual art and is now part of Capacity Bristol: Temporary Use of Empty Buildings Programme.

northcabin was funded by Arts Council South West, Bristol City Council, University of the West of England, Spike Island Associates and Alias. The bursary programme was supported by Interface at AN. We would also like to thank The Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop for supporting Helen de Main while she produced Laying the Bounds.

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