Artist in Residence profile — John Abell

  • John Abell (© John Abell)

    John Abell (© John Abell)

  • 'The Three Graces' (© John Abell)

    'The Three Graces' (© John Abell)

  • 'Theateur (Tactile Bosch)' (© John Abell)

    'Theateur (Tactile Bosch)' (© John Abell)

  • 'Gwalia' (© John Abell)

    'Gwalia' (© John Abell)

Between April and June 2015, artists John Abell and Lauren Heckler are resident at Castell Coch, investigating the artistic possibilities of Burges’s Victorian Gothic masterpiece. Cadw’s Heritage and Arts Manager, Dr. Ffion Reynolds asks both a few questions about their plans.

Explain to us what kind of work you do and what you have been doing up to this point.
I primarily make large scale prints but my recent practice has encompassed performance. Drawing is essential to everything I do. Recently I’ve been writing my own modern myth, The Horse With The Human Heart, and creating images and texts to make it exist.

Over the next few months you are going to be researching and spending time unravelling the eccentric history of Castell Coch to our audiences. Where did this initial interest in Castell Coch come from and where are you hoping to take your research during your residency?
I grew up in Cardiff and Castell Coch is ubiquitous, it is hard to imagine a time when the monument was not there! I am looking forward to seeing the Burges and Bute archives and getting an insight into their creative processes and responding to their influences.

What interested you about the opportunity to be an Artist in Residence at Castell Coch?
History is an essential part of the present, and I immediately wanted the opportunity to respond to such an inspiring place.

Is it important for you to interact with the local community during a residency? In what way?Yes it is. Art ceases to be relevant without an audience, and I feel that it is vital to foster and maintain interest in contemporary art with the community. As an artist in residence, I will talk to people and explain what I am up to, the processes, and ask them where they think the work should go.

What can we expect to see from you throughout your residency at Castell Coch?A lot of me! I will be around, taking photographs, drawing, exploring the art, architecture and history of the monument, and working on large scale works in the grounds.


As part of their residencies, both John Abell and Lauren Heckler will be hosting a series of events, demonstrations and workshops based on their working practices. Visit the events page to find out about opportunities to see them at the site.

In addition, both artists will be tracking the progress of their research throughout their residency. Keep visiting this section of the site for the latest information.