POST SECRETS & PUBLIC SECRETS
The Hayes and St David’s Shopping Centre, Cardiff
words: Tim Hilhorst
Commissioned by the St David’s Centre and Safle, Post Secrets is a witty art installation that hijacks the public’s curiosity in order to engage them. The premise is simple: cut some eye holes in an otherwise ordinary-looking object (in this case, bollards in The Hayes area of Cardiff) and wait for somebody to take a look. The bollards have been created by artist Jane Edden, and each contains a different black and white scene. These tiny, monochromatic peep shows aren’t particularly erotic, but they should hold their audience’s attention: each presents an open-ended situation that encourages an infinite array of interpretations. Exactly what’s going on in each scene is down to the viewer, so they should be well received by those accustomed to the ‘fly-on-the-wall’ genre. The supposed goal of the bollards is to create a street theatre in which unsuspecting city-goers interact with the piece and consequently with the people around them. Whether or not the public will be aware of the £30,000 peepholes, of course, remains to be seen; however, those who do dip their head out of curiosity will be rewarded with a playful piece of art that is both intimate and public simultaneously.
In an effort to tie the shopping centre to the cultural heritage of the capital the St David’s and Safle also commissioned Lesley Kerman to construct 13 of her trademark secret resin blocks. Sadly, the 13 not-so-secret Secrets of Cardiff can in fact be easily found lumped together in a wall on the second floor of the new shopping centre. Sporting synchronised LED lights that change colour at timed intervals, the clear blocks contain a collection of literal and abstract objects. The objects range from ticket stubs to feathers allude to local stories, conversations, and research done into the history and development of shopping in Cardiff:
Unfortunately, it looks like The Secrets of Cardiff will remain a mystery to most shoppers for all the wrong reasons: not because they’re particularly well camouflaged, but because their placement seems more like an afterthought to the St David’s 2 project, rather than an actual stipulation.
In any case, both installations are worth a peek. In fact, now that you know they exist, we dare you not to look. Bet you can’t.
Admission: free. Info: 0845 241 3684.