Discovering the Squatters at Castell Coch


A collection of fantastical creatures have taken over the castle in a new exhibit at Castell Coch. The sculptures, by acclaimed artist Laura Ford, are presented by TEN. and Cadw.

Three sculptures of parrot headed characters by Laura Ford in Castell Coch
Little Lords 1, 2 + 3, 2019, jesmonite, steel, fabric + mixed media, 130 x 58 x 45cm

Dafydd Elis-Thomas AM, the Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism opened the exhibit last week at a special preview event. Cat Gardiner, the curator of TEN. described working in the castle as “a marriage made in heaven”.

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Ford imagines a direct conversation between the past and present; one where parrot-children flock to disrupt festivities in the banqueting hall; monkeys run amok in Lady Bute’s chamber and knights are seemingly felled in the courtyard. Each tableau is a testament to Ford’s accomplishments as both a sculptor and storyteller.

Cat Gardiner – TEN

Laura was born in Cardiff and took part in the 2016 “Cardiff Contemporary” art festival, where she added some of her own creations to the famous animal wall. Her work is represented in many public collections including the Tate, The Victoria and Albert Museum and the Gallery of Wales.

A squatter is a person who occupies property or land to which he/she has no legal title. My work will occupy Castell Coch for 40 days, taking up space, responding to and playing with the history and architecture of the castle.

Laura FordTEN website
Sculpture of a small girl by Laura Ford in Castell Coch
Small orange tree girl, 2017, jesmonite, steel + fabric, 141 x 56 x 45cm

I took the opportunity to get a look the sculptures before the preview and created this short video to give you a taste of what to expect. Usual admission prices apply to view the exhibit.

The preview attendees excitedly explored every nook and cranny of the castle to find all the squatters. While some were hard to miss, others could take you by surprise. Dark figures sit in corners or look down from their vantage points as you search the rooms.

Squatters is a flawless blend of light and dark; the perfect dichotomy between delight and sinisterness.

Contemporary Cymru on Instagram

It’s playful, mysterious, fun + inquisitive.

home byKirsty on Instagram

It’s a treasure hunt in a castle, but the treasure is the most incredible, unsettling and hilarious sculpture.

Neil B on Twitter

You can view all the works in the online catalogue.

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