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Chris Alton: Crudely Plucking the Strings
Spit & Sawdust, Cardiff

11/05/18 - 12/11/18

LAUNCH EVENT: Thursday 10 May, 7 - 9pm
Screening at 8pm

Spit & Sawdust are pleased to announce their first Billboard Commission: Crudely Plucking the Strings by Chris Alton, which launches with an event on 10 May. The event will include a screening of a new accompanying film by the artist, a bar and free delicious food from their outside wood oven. 

Throughout his practice, Chris Alton dredges up moments and ideas from the past, attempting to rethink them for and apply them to the contemporary world. Crudely Plucking the Strings reimagines the 1607 flood of the Bristol Channel, which some hypothesise to have been caused by a tsunami. 2,000 or more people drowned, houses and villages were swept away. The local economy along the coasts of the Bristol Channel and Severn Estuary was wrecked by the destruction of 200 square miles of farmland and its livestock. It is believed that Cardiff was the most badly effected town. A woodcut print is one of the only surviving visual representations of the disastrous event.

For Spit & Sawdust's first Billboard Commission, Alton has created a speculative reworking of this woodcut. St. Mary's Church, the image's original focal point, has been replaced by Hinkley Point C - the yet to be completed nuclear power station that sits on the southern bank of the channel. When it is finally finished, Hinkley Point C will be the most expensive power station in the world. It will perch on the edge of a precipice, vulnerable to the increasingly prevalent instances of extreme weather that are being experienced globally.

By mimicking the style of the original woodcut print, Crudely Plucking the Strings prefigures that which is yet to pass, training a sceptical eye on nuclear power as an answer to climate change. In many ways, this science fiction inspired image operates as an “early warning system”* and a call to action. 

Spit & Sawdust's Billboard Commission’s aim is to provide a large-scale, site-specific platform for artists to develop new work, and increase the visibility of their creative programme. The first two Billboard Commissions are curated by Freya Dooley and are supported by The Arts Council of Wales. 

Chris Alton is an artist and curator based in London, whose practice spans documentary film, music videos, online interventions, disruptive design, live events and exhibitions. Whether deploying disco music in opposition to fascism or playing table tennis in competition with aggressive architecture, his work interrogates symbolic manifestations of power. He works to destabilise or subvert their logic, undermining their shaky foundations through humour and play. Commissions include; Adam Speaks, The National Trust, Croome, Worcestershire, 2017; and Keeley Round, Turf Projects, Croydon, 2016. Exhibitions include; You're Surrounded by Me, Turf Projects, Croydon, 2017 (group); Of the Sea, The Historic Dockyard, Chatham, 2016 (group); Under the Shade I Flourish, xero, kline & coma, London, 2016 (solo); and Outdancing Formations, Edith-Russ-Haus, Oldenburg, 2015 (dual, with Marta Popivoda). Chris is currently a participant in Syllabus III, an alternative peer-led learning programme. / @chrisalton / @spitandsawdustskatepark

Image credit: Chris Alton, Crudely Plucking the Strings (detail), Digital image, 2018. Courtesy of the artist.