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.
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.
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
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.
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.