Buckham’s Park Barn

Published

buckhams-farm-dartingtonThis oil painting measure 4 feet square.

I discovered Buckham’s Park Barn on the Dartington Estate during my walks. It is a late 18th century ruin of what I assume was an agricultural building. The ruin has been surrounded with a portable metal fence since I’ve first come across it.

This was the first larger painting that I started after the Landscape Thinks Itself in Us show. I was committed to continue to look for landscape sites dealing with absence or the forgotten.  Buckham’s Park Barn was an obvious choice.

I found the name for the building on a map that the school provided.  The map labeled “Out of Bounds” areas for student projects and became a critical tool in my explorations and thoughts about landscape in Devon. I read about ruins as spaces outside of the dominant ordering systems and realized how much the concepts we carry in our heads about these spaces matter as much as the spaces do. I went to every single out of bounds location on that map, several of which have become paintings.

Although ruins have been assigned as useless space, the objects within them have a more ambiguous status, for whilst they occur in that space they have not been specifically sorted and classified into piles ready for dumping, and thus possess an intermediate quality which renders them ripe for re-appropriation. They are excess matter which has not been disposed and therefore not consigned to fixity through annulment. Ruins contain excess, wast with which people can construct meaning, stories and practices, objects which possess ‘unforseen value and status insofar as they lack contour … precisely because they are fluid as well as opaque and resistant to fixity'(Nevill and Villeneuve, 2002: 5)

Tim Edensor in Industrial Ruins:Spaces, Aesthetics and Materiality

Can a painting of a ruin be thought of as an “object within” it? Is there such a thing as an economy of visual use?

A planning application claims Buckham’s Park Barn is within an “Area of Great Landscape Value.” Interestingly, Dartington Trust is looking to develop the site into a studio / residency for a fellowship program. The initial planning permission was granted in October of 2006. They had 3 years to show material progress towards development. Dartington Trust showed an invoice dated the 21st of September for an access road.  The access road was enough to satisfy the council.  But it would appear that the Trust is in no hurry to develop the site.

By Noel Hefele

Noel Hefele is an artist living in the Bronx