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1,000 arrive for first event in Passmore Edwards building
4:00pm Monday 11th February 2013 in Cornwall
An estimated 1,000 people attended the first public event at Helston’s Passmore Edwards building in almost five years.
The institute was opened to the public at the weekend for a two-day free art exhibition called The Dark Rooms, filling every room in the building.
Whether for the love of art or for sheer curiosity at what the building now looks like, visitors flocked there to see the work of 40 photographers, painters, sculptors, filmmakers and performance artists.
They were invited to take part by artist Jesse Leroy Smith, who organised and curated the event, and each brought something individual to the mix.
Examples of work included James Hankey capturing, exposing and developing photographic prints over Saturday, revealing the results on Sunday.
Ben Sanderson took some of the weathered plywood boards that until recently covered the upper windows of the building and has used them as supports for painted images of Helston’s history.
There were also a number of light installations and video montages.
As part of the project, students from Falmouth University presented a “show within the show” called Parameters of the Dark.
There was a regular stream of visitors throughout Saturday, culminating in a very busy evening for invited guests. A good number of people also looked around on Sunday, when Jesse Leroy Smith gave a guided tour during the afternoon.
On Monday students from Helston Community College were able to get a private tour of the work and get inspiration for their own art back in class, as part of a trip organised by teacher Sarah-Jane Marsden.
Visitors were left fascinated by not only the artwork but also to see the inside of the building that was once a staple of the community, as a school of science and art, then a secondary school and later as a centre for different groups and activities.
Coat hooks still hung in one of the rooms, surrounded by artwork for the weekend, while teenage graffiti could be seen in the attic. Every room really was used, with one installation even set up around bathroom sinks.
The building is now owned by the Cornubian Arts and Science Trust (CAST), which is turning the building into artists’ studios and a place to host talks, workshops, screenings and other cultural and educational activities.
Theresa Gleadowe, one of the three lead members of CAST who bought the building, described the amount of visitors as “just staggering” and said: “It was unbelievable. Jesse was very confidence there would be 500 people but there were many more than that.
“It was just great to feel the building come alive and there was quite a mix of people there. There was a very nice atmosphere – very friendly.”
While more events are likely to be held in the future, the plan currently is to get the first ten rooms being used by artists before Easter.