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PLaCE Visiting Speaker Series 2011-12 : David Littlefield

Dr Rachel Sweeney & Marnie Orr
PLaCE/LAND2 Speaker Series 2011-2012
Thursday 24th May 2012, 18.00-19.00

David Littlefield:
Reading/rereading; framing/reframing. Using art practice to provide a deeper understanding of place.
Over the last three years David Littlefield has been looking (very closely and very slowly) at a set of rarely visited vaults at the Roman baths in Bath. Separate from the heritage zone experienced by tourists, the York Street vaults represent an uncurated, estranged space where the architectures and interventions from different periods (Roman, Georgian, Victorian and 20th century) collide. Here, the Roman is not privileged over other periods. The space acts as a record of human occupation over many centuries, but as a largely back-of-house service zone it challenges conventional notions of heritage and authenticity.

David and colleagues from UWE and Chelsea College of Art & Design have been seeking to reframe the vaults, using light, film and photography to alter the manner in which they are perceived and valued.

Deploying notions of the glimpsed, essentialism, the role of the intangible and “symmetrical archaeology”, in which the present is valued as much as the past, this work seeks to re-present the space and recast it as a place of considerable aesthetic value – enigmatic beauty even.

David Littlefield is a senior lecturer in the Department of Planning and Architecture at the University of the West of England, Bristol. He has made significant contributions to, more than 10 books on architecture, including “Architectural Voices; listening to old buildings” (Wiley 2007) and “London (re)generation” (Wiley 2012). David is a founder member of the Estranged Space group, which was granted artist in residence status at the Roman baths, Bath, to explore the aesthetic value of the York Street vaults.

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