Documenting the buildings at Bletchley Park

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Station X

STATION X is a collaboration between an installation artist, a photographer, a sound artist and a film maker that documents Blocks C and D at Bletchley Park prior to their renovation.

Bletchley Park is also known as STATION X, ‘home of the code-breakers’. Eleven thousand people worked at Bletchley Park during World War Two and were sworn to secrecy about their activities for the following 30 years. It is also the birthplace of modern information technology.

The artists documented some of the derelict Grade II listed buildings in which the code-breakers worked, which have always been inaccessible to the public due to their dangerous state of disrepair. Conditions are harsh in rooms that have been unventilated and occupied only by pigeons and rats for years. Some of the buildings give the impression that the workers have just downed tools and left; a rusty old coat hanger swings on a hook with a name scrawled on it and a file of technical information disintegrates on a window sill. Others provide fascinating insights into what happens when nature is left to its own devices for years.

After decades of decay and a successful fundraising campaign the buildings are now being renovated.

STATION X provides a sensory insight into the disused buildings and the remnants of their secret past. It offers a contemporary interpretation of what is arguably one of Britain’s most important 20th century historical sites. The exhibition documents the visual and aural histories imbued in the buildings before their renovation.

Caroline Devine is a sound artist who captured the sounds produced by and within the decaying huts, exploring the spatial aspects of sound. Caroline is interested in voices that may be obscured, silenced or absent such as the employees at Bletchley who were sworn to secrecy for 30 years after the war.

Rachael Marshall is a photographer who is particularly interested in the reasons why we value and preserve certain buildings.

Maya Ramsay is an installation artist who makes works using a process to lift pigment, debris and texture from surfaces in the built environment, in particular from buildings that are due to be demolished or restored. Maya specialises in making works that reference war through the associations that abstract marks can create.

The work of Luke Williams involves film, carving, construction and installation practices. Luke produces devices which co-exist with the space in which they are placed. He is interested in the narratives and reinterpretation of science.


Exhibitions

November 7th 2012 – current – Hut 8 at Bletchley Park

September 6th to October 6th 2012 – Ghost Station at Bletchley Park

May 3rd to June 1st, 2012 – Milton Keynes Gallery Project Space

Media coverage

25.08.13 Dazed Online featured the project in The dA-Zed guide to to surveillance: Drones in the sky, whistleblowers in jail: how art is responding to Big Brother’s watch. Scroll down to ‘X is for Station X.

03.09.12 Bletchley Park News about September’s ArtHertz Exhibition. “Ghost Station will also include the critically acclaimed collaborative piece, Station X, which was first shown and conceived for display at MK Gallery Project Space”

12.05.12 BBC News, Beds, Herts and Bucks Interview with Caroline, Maya, and me. “They have lifted rust-covered surfaces from walls, recorded the squawking of pigeons and other sounds from inside the decaying buildings, and those that come from outside like the rumble of trains from the nearby West Coast line.”

05.05.12 Paul Caplewell’s Blog “The combination of the, at once familiar, yet other worldly, sounds and atmospheric photographs of dust, cobwebs and the odd decaying bird, along with the physical ‘casts’ of the walls themselves all give a very peculiar overall feeling.”

01.05.12 Preserving the un-preservable at Station X Twentieth Century Society news about the exhibition in Milton Keynes.

30.04.12 Radio 4 Today Programme An interview with Caroline, Maya and Iain Standen, (Bletchley Park CEO). The feature starts at approximately 2h:20m into the iPlayer recording, just before the sports item.

30.04.2012 BBC Online Gallery of Station X Project.

04.05.12 MK Gallery’s announcement about Station X in the Project Space, featuring a clip from Luke’s film What’s Left Behind.

01.05.12 PMC loudspeakers used at Station X exhibition at Bletchley Park AVInteractive.com.

27.04.12 Dr. Black’s Posterous “Maya is one of the artists involved in creating the Station X exhibition that opens in Milton Keynes next week. I can’t wait to see it! :)”

26.04.12 PMC at Bletchley Park, It’s an Enigma A feature from PMC, one of the supporters of the project.

27.10.11 Jotta.com An interview with Maya Ramsay about the Station X Project.

The Station X exhibitions were assisted by funding from the Milton Keynes Community Foundation and PMC Loudspeakers


Ghost Station

Ghost Station is the new exhibition from ArtHertz, staged at Bletchley Park – the home of code breaking during World War II and the birthplace of modern technology. The month long event is part of the Milton Keynes Heritage Open Days – Summer of Culture 2012 and explores themes of codes, code-breaking and messages, Alan Turing, the role of pigeons and women in World War II. The exhibition also explores the ongoing ArtHertz agenda of the analogue / digital distinction. Ghost Station will also include the critically acclaimed collaborative piece, Station X (featured on BBC Radio 4) – an installation that documents the Bletchley buildings with sound, film, photography and surfaces.

Over 20 selected contemporary artists’ work will be interspersed amongst the museum’s exhibits in Hut 8, the Bombe Hut and Hut 11. The Enigma Cinema at Bletchley will also play host to screenings of short films curated by Rushes Soho Shorts Film Festival and ArtHertz presenting the UK Premiere of Al Croseri’s feature length film,The Pigeoneers, Esther Johnson’s ‘Analogue Kingdom’ and ‘Tune In’. There will also be a closing party and premiere of the war pigeon short, ‘Gustav’ by Dennis Da Silva on 30th September

SHOW OPEN TO PUBLIC FROM 6TH SEPTEMBER – 30TH SEPTEMBER. PRIVATE VIEW STRICTLY BY INVITATION ONLY.

Station X comes to Bletchley Park

We are pleased to announce that Station X will be part of the Ghost Station exhibition from ArtHertz at Bletchley Park, opening on September 6th 2011.

Work by Caroline Devine, Maya Ramsay, Luke Williams and Rachael Marshall will be in Hut 8, often referred to as ‘Turing’s Hut’. The hut was restored in 2005 and houses several displays, including the one about carrier pigeons during the war.

We are grateful for the support of the Milton Keynes Community Foundation once again.

Listen to BBC Radio 4 Today broadcast about Bletchley Park

The Today programme that featured the Station X artists and CEO of the Bletchley Park Trust is in the BBC’s 2012 archive, dated Monday 30 April. The feature starts at approximately 2:20, just before the sports item.

John Humphries also mentions a BBC gallery of images from the project.

Station X featured on the Today programme

Interviews with Iain Standen (Bletchley Park Trust CEO), mixed media artist Maya Ramsay and audio artist Caroline Devine were broadcast on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme at 08:20 this morning. Click here for the schedule for the programme and here for a BBC online gallery. The programme isn’t yet available on iPlayer.

Station X exhibition opens this Thursday, 3rd May

Station X opens this Thursday evening, 3rd May 2012 at the Milton Keynes Gallery Project Space (click for the gallery’s page about the project, including an interview with BBC reporter Richard Williams). The private view is from 6pm – 8pm on the 3rd. The exhibition will be open until 27th May 2012.

If you’ve seen recent documentaries about the codebreaking work and Alan Turing you’ll have had a glimpse of some of the spaces inside Blocks C and D. The four of us have spent many days exploring the sights, sounds and smells of the buildings.

The exhibition is the result of a collaboration that documents the buildings with sound, film, photography and surfaces.

Maya, Caroline and Iain Standen (CEO of the Bletchley Park Trust) will be talking about Station X on Radio 4’s Today programme on Monday 30th April, between 8am and 9am.

Click on any of our names in the previous post for more information about our work, and there’s a link to the Facebook page at the bottom too.

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