A group of about 25 of us were led up to the Howard Assembly Room where the piece had been installed, for a special preview led by the artist himself.
I had heard of Chris Watson's installation Hy Brasil but nothing about it before I went, this I felt worked in my favor as I was able to go in with an open mind open to whatever there may have been to be experienced. The added advantage of having the artists himself their to explain it to those of us on the Arts&Minds trip made it all the more worth it.
Hearing him speak about the origins of the project and the myth of Hy Brasil, an island supposedly just off the south west coast of Ireland, was fascinating. I really enjoy seeing other artists get so passionate talking about the work as I imagine they were about making. It sounds as though the island and its myths had become truly an obsession for Chris over recent years and this was echoed throughout the work in sound, light and in atmosphere.
In a brief introduction where he explained the piece and the sounds of creatures that were encompassed in it, some linking to Hy Brasil itself, some linking to the myths of the time when it was documented on sea charts, such as mermaids or giant reptiles, even creative mythology of his own of creatures he believed could have been carried to the island by sky or sea and colonized.
Once the introduction was over we were told we were allowed to sit in any of the chairs dotted around or walk around or even lie on the island in the middle (this was my personal favorite! Experiencing art from an island of pillows!) as the piece played for 20 minutes. It navigated us across the island from the ocean to the shore, to the land and jungle, to the craggy land and up to the mountain peaks.
It was a relaxing and magical experience to be sure, I felt like a child pretending the living room floor was the sea and the pillows were my raft. Then the beautiful climax of the piece approached where the lights, which had been adapting to the sounds throughout, faded into the night sky complete with twinkling stars.
I will stress at this point that my attempt to describe the work here in my blog falls short and that it is something I would insist experiencing for yourself, as it is designed to be experienced and not just seen or read about. Alas, in similar nature to the island itself which appears once every seven years, Chris Watson's Hy Brasil is not touring or due to be shown again anytime soon. So I would suggest going to see it now before it finishes on 15th March and disappears...possibly forever!
You can find out more about Chris Watson's Hy Brasil here:
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