Artist Bedwyr Williams explores yoga

Andrew Wrenn and Bedwyr Williams

Andrew Wrenn and Bedwyr Williams

Macclesfield on a Sunday morning found artist Bedwyr Williams in sun salutation pose and exploring yoga with local teacher Andrew Wrenn – who is subject of his latest film Flexure.

Commissioned for Macclesfield’s Barnaby Festival 2016, Flexure is about a technologically challenged hypnotist, who becomes hooked on his own self-hypnosis tapes and enters another time and space, a place of familiar Macclesfield landmarks and a local yoga teacher.

Known for its silk industry, Macclesfield is located in Cheshire at the foothills of the Peak District and is also home to the Jodrell Bank Observatory.

The observatory was one of the influential reasons that Barnaby Festival, located in the town, chose its 2016 theme of space, whether that is a talk with Professor Brian Cox or the series of art commissions.

Williams has explored the theme before, with his installation Starry Messenger, which premiered at the 2013 Venice Biennale and explores a fascination with astronomers – in particular the amateur.

“I didn’t want to make a sequel to The Starry Messenger,” said Williams.

“I wanted to explore inner space. We are living in an age of mindfulness and anxiety and it seemed appropriate to explore that. I came about it through the idea of a hypnotherapist and the video will be like watching a hypnotherapy video.”

He added: “The hypnotherapist receives complaints from his clients that the sound quality of his cassettes isn’t good. He starts to improve this through computer equipment and in the process he gets a bit hooked on them.

“His work is interrupted by a nuisance neighbour, who shouts crazy things at him like ‘cream cracker’ which he hears as it travels down their shared chimney.

“The hypnotist takes on the form of another character and becomes extra supple – almost like an instant yogi.”

Bedwyr accepted the commission for Barnaby Festival as he enjoys exploring provincial towns.

“I remember the Macc Lads from when I was a teenager, but I had never been here. It’s got the post-industrial feel of Manchester, but rural too. It’s kind of like Coronation Street meets Last of the Summer Wine.

“I was also attracted to Macclesfield because of the badge it had of being the least cultural place in the UK in 2004. I thought it would be great to make a piece of work here.”

Williams discovered Andrew Wrenn the yoga teacher on the internet and got in touch with him to see if he would be interested working with him.

“He has this Californian look about him but when you speak to him this soft Macclesfield accent comes out,” Williams said.

“He is a totally at ease in front of the camera. He dresses in a certain way and practices yoga and meditation all over the world. I love that he travels. He is both local and global.”

Flexure will be presented in Macclesfield’s Georgian, Townley Street Chapel. It will then be exhibited at The Barbican Curve Gallery later this year as part of a solo exhibition.

Bedwyr Williams is one of four critically acclaimed artists, who have been commissioned by Barnaby Festival to exhibit as part of an ambitious visual art programme for Barnaby 2016, in Macclesfield.

He will be presenting his work alongside Liliane Lijn, Hondartza Fraga and Hannah Imlach.

The artworks are part of a series of eight Arts Council England funded visual art commissions which include local artists Simon Woolham, Hannah Wooll, Tom Baskeyfield and Mario Popham, and a group comprising Val Lear, Rachael King & Mark Helliwell.

To find out more about the Barnaby Festival visit the website or follow us on Twitter @BarnabyFestival Or like us on Facebook Barnaby festival

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