Cumbrian Alchemy

In 2011 the University of Cumbria funded a project to bring an American artist, Bryan McGovern Wilson to Cumbria. In collaboration with Professor Robert Williams, the pair explored the relationships between the Nuclear Industry of the Energy Coast (eg. Heysham & Sellafield, & Energus), the archaeology & folklore of North Lancashire/Cumbria (eg. St. Patrick’s Chapel, Heysham: The stone graves & the hogback stone, Long Meg & her daughters), scientific figures from the region (eg. John Dalton: Atomic Theory, Michael Faraday, Sir Richard Owen) and an interest in working with impossible materials – for example, Wilson is currently working with Trinitite, a glass created by the atomic explosions of the Manhattan Project, as part of his investigation of Robert Oppenheimer.

This aspect of the project was a first engagement event over several weeks to carry out initial research in order to explore the context, opportunities and sites with a view to developing a project leading towards a major exhibition and publication.

This first phase helped with the development of research which is intended to become the basis of an exhibition and publication. Liaison and linkages with the major Nuclear concerns at Heysham & Sellafied, Energus, and with cultural institutions of the region. The project explored these relationships within an interdisciplinary & intertextual arts project.

This project seeks to build on that work, continuing to explore the art associated with the energy coast and to produce a major exhibition on the west coast and a publication that is highly relevant to the lives of many west coast inhabitants.