Artist in Residence profile — Jon Pountney

  • Jon Pountney

  • Jon Pountney

  • Castell Coch

    © Jon Pountney

  • Jon Pountney

    © Jon Pountney

  • Jon Pountney

    © Jon Pountney

  • Jon Pountney

    © Jon Pountney

Between May and July 2016, artist and photographer Jon Pountney will be resident at Castell Coch, investigating the artistic possibilities of Burges’s Victorian Gothic masterpiece. Cadw’s Heritage and Arts Manager, Dr. Ffion Reynolds asks him a few questions about his plans.

1. Explain to us what kind of work you do and what you have been doing up to this point.

I have been a professional photographer since 2000, working in commercial and corporate areas. In 2010 I started the social history project 'Cardiff before Cardiff', which really kick started my imagination and drew me back into more artistic thought processes. My work revolves around the key themes developed when I was a student: memory, history and the devices we use to aid our understanding of the passage of time. Obviously these themes relate most readily to photography, but I also use painting, drawing, and moving image. Since 2010 I have exhibited throughout Wales (most notably in the Wales Millennium Centre with 'Cardiff before Cardiff'), and in 2015 BBC Wales showed a documentary about one of my projects in 'Forgotten Images of Valley Life'.

2. Over the next few months you are going to be researching and spending time unravelling the history of Castell Coch to the communities that live around it. Where did this initial interest in Castell Coch come from and where are you hoping to take your research during your residency?

I have visited the castle many times over the 20 years I have lived in Cardiff, and have always been fascinated by its luxurious interiors, particularly the ornate gold ceiling in Lady Gwendoline's bedroom. On one visit I was struck by the large glass bed knob globes on her bed; they worked as primitive but intriguing lenses, allowing the room to be viewed in a different way. That starting point is the inspiration for my project, and my work will hopefully allow people to see Castell Coch is a completely new way.

3. What interested you about the opportunity to be an Artist in Residence at Castell Coch?

By using elements and techniques from the birth of photography I hope to allow people to re-see the beauty of Castell Coch and it's surroundings. It's a tremendously exciting challenge and a real honour to be Artist in Residence in the castle; I think any artist would jump at the chance to work with the themes that such a place suggests. Public engagement is always a massive part of my work, and I can't wait to see how people react to my ideas.

4. Is it important for you to interact with the local community during a residency? In what way?

As I said, I think it's incredibly important to make work for the public. Too many artists make work just for other artists to look at. I have never seen the point in that. So much of my work and research couldn't happen without the kindness and interest of the public.

5. What can we expect to see from you throughout your residency at Castell Coch?

Something really different and unexpected hopefully, new ways of seeing. A fresh and unique body of work reinterpreting this iconic building. It's a massive challenge, but I can't wait to get started!