Working on Your Voice has been an exciting opportunity to both explore the Wales Millennium Centre’s physical space and the amazing creativity of people across Wales.
It's also been a wonderful chance to collaborate with an iconic building and combine my work as a visual dramaturge/designer in theatre with experiences running festivals.
I have not been a curator for this project in the traditional sense, in that we have not generally sought out specific types of work, with everything, except for a very few commissions, being submitted from people all across Wales through an open invitation.
Rather I have curated the experience of the visitor, attempting to loosely group pieces into broad themes that emerged from the work – protest, nature, journeys, COVID, formations, identity, and storytellers - and trying to match pieces, whether individually or as groups, to spaces which felt emotionally right - tall, dramatic space for independent fashion or small, confined ones to reflect on the isolation and lockdown, and so on for the hundreds of works received through the Voices of Change open call.
One of the largest spaces, the Glanfa, which is the entry point for the exhibition, places two galleries, one on the ground floor and one balcony level, in conversation – that of protest and community/identity – both of which have been central topics of action and reflection in the last 18 months.
It’s also been an exciting challenge to plan the one-way journey through the building, and I hope visitors will enjoy the route we have created which covers every lobby and public bar space, as well as three experiences at different levels in the Donald Gordon Theatre and even a walk through a backstage corridor.
The resulting journey is hundreds of steps across all six floors - one team member has recommended that visitors bring a bottle of water to stay hydrated along the way - though all galleries and artwork are accessible via lift, and we are placing plenty of rest points throughout!
There are also several activities throughout the exhibition for visitors to engage and contribute to the ongoing creation of installations, adding their voice, history, hopes, and dreams to the legacy of the project.
The aesthetic choices in the exhibition have very much been driven by the resources to hand, with a large percentage of materials being reclaimed from previous scenery in our storage units and from the main ticket desk, which has now been demolished to make way for planned updates and remodelling.
These materials, otherwise bound for the skip, provided much inspiration, and have allowed the exhibition to really become an intervention into the space.
Working within a very short amount of time for a project of this scale, the team of technicians have been absolutely brilliant in their creative approach and collaborative spirit in realizing my rough drawings and sketches, helping match materials and approaches to create dynamic spaces.
I could not have done this without their generous spirt, knowledge, or support! I hope that everyone finds something in the exhibition that moves or inspires them.
With such an overwhelming number of contributions – from local to national communities, ceramics to soundscapes, paintings to films, artists age 4 to 84 – the spirit of creativity and the distinct voices found throughout Wales have certainly moved myself and our team.
It has been a real honour to present their work for audiences to re-open the building.
Brad Caleb Lee - Your Voice Exhibition Curator