‘Utopian Realism’ is an exploration of rural utopianism, idealism and industrialism in the North East of England and Mid Wales by the artists Mair Hughes and Bridget Kennedy.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Wales, a hospitable planet?

This is a picture from The Centre for Alternative Technology archives, probably from the 70s or early 80s, when caravans for people living on the site were sprayed with a layer of foam, and then paint, to improve insulation. Although the image doesn’t display any particularly ‘green’ technology (in fact the foam has probably since been discovered to be highly toxic to the environment), I like the image because of how it now looks kind of retro-futuristic. It combines this space-warrior-like figure with the homely and familiar caravan. For me it suggests the practical experiments that have gone on bit by bit since the beginning of the CAT project, the fact that this is a site where tests and trials can occur, such as ‘how to make a caravan a viable low-tech living option in the Welsh winters’, Mistakes can be made and learned from, pathways explored and rejected for newer ideas, but things are directed away from the purely theoretical by the hands on nature of the organisation.

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