Shed was a site specific installation held at Boscathnoe Farm, Heamoor, Penzance, Cornwall in August 2000 by PALP (Penwith Artists Led Projects). 350 people came to the opening night. The sheds
were leant by Neil and Jane Armstrong. Neil has also set up the fabulous Tremeneere Gardens outside of Penzance
My contribution was an installation in the corrugated iron shed of the harvested plants and grasses from my garden and field up on the moors behind Penzance. The shed was illuminated by a gas lamp.
The whole show was arranged in the series of sheds of friends of Palp that had once been a farmyard.
My piece had something to do with the passing of a way of farming life in Cornwall and Western Europe - not to say the world. It was about evoking the smells and atmosphere of harvests I
had helped with as a boy in Wales where hay was still made (before the silage revolution) and forked into barn loft spaces loose. It was a massive physical effort at the mercy of shaky
summer weather and the dust and midges were something terrible. But there was a brute, visceral physical and emotional connection with the land that is increasingly mediated by massive machines
and capital inputs. Pocket-sized farms never brought progress and I'd rather ride a tractor in a snug cab with a DVD player than plod behind a horse in winter weather but all the same something
is lost in the process and my piece tried to evoke some of that loss (see my pages God
Speed the Plough and Death of a Young Farmer
Alan Bleakley wrote,
Fergus Murray’s ‘The Drying Room’ is an alternative peepshow. At the entrance to a small shed you lift a cloth veil to reveal a room packed with hanging and drying forms, lit by a hurricane lamp. This could be tobacco, or hanging meats, or the fingers of dead gardeners. The impact comes from the stillness of the piece. It is like the model for a Dutch interior painting, in which the model itself is now given an airing as a room of hanging history, episodes drying out, events desiccating.
For more on PALP go here.