Monday, 22 August 2016

Absent - Blackpool Winter Gardens

in the foyer

Yesterday lunchtime we headed off to Blackpool to visit the brand spanking new Winter Gardens Hotel, slap bang in the centre of Blackpool. 

We entered the foyer into what was once obviously a grand space but was now furnished with bland, modern furniture, the staff were efficient, but not warm and we waited for our tour, all this in the midst of a controversy surrounding long term resident of the hotel who had fallen on hard times and had been asked to leave her suite, her home for half a century - front page news! We were escorted by a member of staff to one of the newly refurbished rooms, and that's where things became a little bit strange...




As you may have guessed, we weren't in a new hotel at all but inside, and part of, a new art installation Absent which follows the story of the once grand Winter Gardens Hotel and the demise into a new budget hotel, and the story of Premiums Bonds winner turned pauper, Maggie Morgan. We wandered from room to room, sometimes looking, sometimes joining, sometimes passing through the scenes, seeing the history and future of the building and long-term resident, and looked at ourselves in the context of both. 

I had been a little sceptical at first, but as soon as we entered the first room and events started to unfold I was hooked both by the story and, of course, by the amazing architecture and features of the Winter Gardens building - ending in the Empress Ballroom (I shared a couple of snaps here). The experience was beautiful and sad, my favourite mix. There is no way I could put into words how wonderful this melancholy experience is, firstly I don't have the skills and secondly I wouldn't want to spoil it in any way for people who may choose to visit for themselves, if you'd like a review produced by someone more wordy than myself there's one here. You can learn about dreamthinkspeak, the people behind the work too. 

Absent is on for the next three weeks. 

12 comments:

  1. sounds wonderful and mysterious :-)

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    1. It was perfectly balanced for me, a little something to get you hooked at the beginning, then afterwards it was all about what you put into the experience. I loved it.

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  2. It does sound very sad and melancholy, definitely "of a era" that has gone.

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    1. The faded elegance, both of the buildings and of personal appearance, was clear. The saddest part for me was how we accept the lack of individuality and how we're all happy to have the same high streets, hotels and styles and have sleepwalked into it.

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  3. Replies
    1. It really was, so unusual for an event over here too. It was quite a shock when we walked back out into the concourse to mingle with the audience of Dirt Dancing which is on at the same place (that sounded great too).

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  4. That just sounds incredible! What an interesting experience you've had.

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  5. Sounds very interesting.
    xx

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    1. I was quite surprised to see a charity shop regular in one of the film sections!

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  6. I really like this idea and love how it tells a story. Those rooms do look grand but sad - but I guess that's the ambience they are trying to create.

    http://lizziedailyblog.blogspot.co.uk/

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    1. The attention to detail to make a beautiful room look so drab is fantastic, the crew have done an amazing job.

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