Art Pick of the Month: JAMESPLUMB at the Mussenden Temple

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2. Silent Light_Stained Moons at Mussenden Temple_
Silent Light: Stained Moons at Mussenden TempleCourtesy of JAMESPLUMB

Daisy Hoppen shares her art pick for February, an ethereal installation at the Mussenden Temple in Derry-Londonderry

I have long loved the world of JAMESPLUMB – a creative studio founded by artists James Russell and Hannah Plumb. If you go to their home or workshop, you feel as if you are stepping into another dimension. Their point of view is full of mystery and often darkness thanks to the materials they use, but also thanks to their sheer creativity.

Almost a year ago, while having a coffee outside in their workshop’s backyard in south London, we spoke about the glass that they had found in derelict glass-houses and a project they were planning in Northern Ireland for 2020. Now finally realised in collaboration with the National Trust, this installation is set in the Mussenden Temple, located in the surroundings of Downhill Demesne near Castlerock in Derry-Londonderry.

Given that much of their work often involves darkness, or very deep hues of colour, their interest in light has also often been critical to their process. In this instance, it’s the moon and its light that is at the core of the installation. The recovered glass is covered in lichen and they describe the Mussenden Temple as having an essence of an “observatory”, perched as it is 120 feet above sea level, on the edge of a cliff overlooking the North Atlantic. In such a remote spot, there is a real lack of people and noise, as the artists say: “We invite visitors to experience the landscape, the Temple and the artworks wordlessly. Silence leaves space to focus our attention on our place – and time – in the world.”

I am yet to visit Stained Moons but aside from the installation itself, the Temple is steeped in history – which for any history enthusiast such as myself is yet another reason to visit, even in a bitter February. Built in 1785, it forms part of the estate of Frederick Augustus Hervey, Bishop of Derry and Earl of Bristol (or the Earl Bishop). Dedicated to the memory of Hervey’s cousin, Frideswide Mussenden, the temple was built as a summer library and its architecture was inspired by the Temple of Vesta in Tivoli, near Rome. Both the Temple and the surrounding views of the often wild Atlantic sea are among the most photographed scenes in Ireland. Visiting the installation will certainly be a pilgrimage for many, but for those fans of the JAMESPLUMB world it will be well worth the journey. The walk to the temple itself will also be in silence after twilight over 14 nights, the first of which was at the Full Moon on February 9 and the last of which will be at the New Moon on February 23. 

Stained Moons is at Mussenden Temple, Mussenden Road, Castlerock, Derry-Londonderry, Northern Ireland, until February 23, 2020.

Daisy Hoppen is the founder of DH-PR, a London-based communications agency. She also works in house with a small number of brands, companies and personalities across fashion, art and culture.