I went to see hinterland last night in the ruin of St Peter’s Seminary near Cardross. Tramping through mud in the dark with a light-up stick, until the vast building looms out at you through the trees, suffused with Rory Boyle’s music, was really exciting. Rory’s music had a welcome absence of equal temperament, and suited the space wonderfully.
But on the bus back to Helensburgh I felt uneasy about the building’s impending partial transformation into an arts space. Don’t people like me and my fellow bus passengers, who (sometimes) buy tickets to things, have enough of those already? This amazing ruin has been an art space for those with the nerve to climb and explore it for decades, and as a result the building is full of street art, some of it very good.
The visual aspect of NVA’s installation was the weakest part of the experience (to be honest, the bus ride to the site provided more theatre) and I left wishing I could have explored the site in the daylight instead, as I didn’t leave with any greater understanding of it. And it is a bit of a brassneck when your installation includes lots of street art that isn’t yours, to claim copyright on it and threaten legal action on anyone who tries to use it, as NVA do on their website. I guess they’ve had some bad experiences with people using their imagery before, but even so …
Anyhow, having finally visited the site (even in such a mediated way) I’m now intrigued as to how the next chapter of its history will play out. Ruins have plenty of possibilities.