- Lindsey Mendick
- Dominic Watson
- Washington Old Hall
- Arts Council England
Wassa is part of the Meeting Point 2018-2019 programme, and is displayed at Washington Old Hall in the North East from 22 May – 31 October 2021.
Created by artists Lindsey Mendick and Dominic Watson, Wassa – titled after a historical name for the town of Washington – takes the form of a medieval feast attended by six characters, each linked with Washington Old Hall’s history.
Dominic Watson explains:
“As you enter the Old Hall, which dates back to the 13th century, you’ll be faced with a grand banquet table laden with pies, jellies and drinks. Seated at the table are a group of notable characters who all have a link with Washington Old Hall, over its hundreds of years of history.
“The installation is partly based on facts but it’s also steeped in stories and half-truths which have been passed down through generations and which we’ve learnt about as we’ve researched the Hall and the town of Washington.”
The most well-known person at the table is George Washington, the first president of the USA, whose ancestral home was at Washington Old Hall. Alongside him is a depiction of the White Lady, whose ghost is said to haunt the building; the Lady of Hertbern, one of the oldest known residents of Washington who may have lived on this site as early as the 13th century; and the Green Man, a mythological character usually associated with spring time and rebirth, often depicted in carvings at pagan worship sites, like the one which may have once stood next to Washington Old Hall.
At the head of the table sits a sculpture of Fred Hill, the local historian and schoolmaster who played a key role in saving Washington Old Hall from ruin in the early 20th century and who penned his own book of local stories called Fact, Folklore and Fiction.
And on the table, amongst the feast of food and drink and set inside a jelly, is a sculpture of the Pickled Parson whose body, according to local legend, was preserved in salt by his wife in order to convince parishioners that he was still alive and they should continue to pay his family their annual tithes.
During the creation of the installation, Mendick and Watson worked with local residents and school pupils to learn more about the stories and legends people hear while growing up in the town.
Lindsey Mendick said:
“I think that the people we met will recognise their own input in parts of the artwork. Talking to local residents really informed our work and gave us extra insight into the stories which are the most important to people here.”
Operations Manager at Washington Old Hall, Sarah Murray, said:
“This really will be a vibrant, sensory experience for people who visit here – it’s theatrical, playful and a little bit dark in places.
“We wanted to make a shift in the way we tell the story of Washington Old Hall and the people who are associated with it, and this artwork is not like anything people will have seen here before.”
- Invite artists to interpret the stories and explore the significance/relevance of WOH, helping to build a viable and inspiring heritage destination.
- Create a meaningful experience and open conversations between and with existing and new audiences.
- Find new ways of seeing what is at WOH and broaden processes to create experiences that move, teach and inspire.
- Gain an understanding of the ways of working with artists and build confidence to take risks in the future.
- Develop confidence to make bold choices with future programming.
As participants in the Meeting Point 2018-2019 programme, Washington Old Hall was supported by Arts&Heritage through a process of sharing knowledge and presenting contemporary art projects and commissions in non-traditional art spaces.
Six museums based in the North were selected for this Meeting Point programme, and took part in a series of training workshops, visits to artists’ studios and meeting peers at other properties, to learn how they successfully delivered contemporary arts projects at their museums and heritage sites. Museums developed their own Artist’s Briefs.
A networking event between the participating museums and 60 artists from across the UK took place at the National Centre for Early Music*, York, following which artists were invited to send in an Expression of Interest to museums that interested them.
Four artists were shortlisted by each museum to draw up a more detailed proposal and were paid £500 each to do so.
Washington Old Hall selected Lindsey Mendick and Dominic Watson for the £11,000 commission in Spring 2019, to produce Wassa in Spring 2021 (following delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic).
Lindsey Mendick (b. 1987, London, UK) received an MA in Sculpture at the Royal College of Art, London (2017). She is the recipient of the Alexandra Reinhardt memorial award 2019 and was selected for Jerwood Survey 2019. Recent solo and two-person exhibitions include: The Ex- Files, Castor Projects, London (2019); PROUDICK, Hannah Barry Gallery, London (2018); The Turnpike Pottery, The Turnpike Leigh; Perfectly Ripe, Zabludowicz Collection, London (2018); Jamie Fitzpatrick and Lindsey Mendick, Vitrine, Basel (2018); She’s Really Nice When You Get To Know Her, Visual Arts Center, Austin, Texas (2016); Girls (with Rebecca Gould) as part of Periclo, Oriel Wrexham, Wales (2015); Hot Flush, STCFTHOTS, Leeds (2015); Lindsey Mendick and Lynn Fulton, One Thoresby Street, Nottingham (2015).
Dominic Watson was born in Sunderland, UK 1986. He studied sculpture at Camberwell College of Art, London, and then an MFA at the Glasgow School of Art in 2014. Since graduating he was selected for New Contemporaries 2013 as well as the London Open 2015. Watson was a recipient of the John Kinross Fellowship, 2014, awarded by the Royal Scottish Academy and received a Fellowship in Contemporary Art Practice from the British School of Rome in 2017. His work is part of the RSA and the Ingram Collections. Watson currently lives and works in London, where co runs an artist led project space, PLAZAPLAZA in elephant and Castle.
Sophie Dixon at Grace Darling Museum
Grace Darling Museum commissioned Sophie Dixon in Spring 2019 as part of the Meeting Point programme.