Simon Chatterton / Mark Anderson / Ann Bean et al, Power Plant

Review in Issue 21-4 | Winter 2009

A night-time trip to the park is always exciting… through the gate we go, sent down a path, told to follow the light. Now here’s the glasshouse, projections highlighting its metal skeleton. We weave inside and outside, I lose my companions and end up off the beaten track, peeping behind ferns, crunching gravel underfoot. If this were just a chance to wander round the Botanical Gardens at night, that’d almost be enough, but this is more, much more…

There’s a row of tall and proud customised standard lamps for a start; a great glass mansion full of lily ponds and weeping willows hung with distressed dresses; a forest of illuminated His Master’s Voice gramophones whizzing and whirring; kinetic flowers spinning amongst the foliage; a tree full of electronic fireflies, a courtyard full of flares and flame-lights. There’s the sound of Tibetan bowls singing (set in motion by vibrating mobile phones), and of electronic insect hummings; the whisper of cracked and warped old records, the clicking of a thousand cricket legs.

The glasshouses (turns out there’s not one or two but four or more I seem to remember, although it is easy to get disorientated), and these plus the space in between, around and outside of them, have been used as a canvas (though not of course a blank canvas) by a group of artists that includes environmental sound installation artist Jony Easterby, Mark Anderson of The Photophonic Experiment fame, and legendary performance artist and founder member of the Bow Gamelan Ensemble, Ann Bean.

I wish I could have made more trips to Power Plant, there was so much to see and hear and smell and feel. A beautiful site-responsive piece; a magical journey into the undergrowth of the psyche.

Presenting Festival

Royal Botanic Gardens

Date Seen
  1. Aug 2009

This article in the magazine

Issue 21-4
p. 29