Princesshay Development > Marking Time

Patricia MacKinnon-Day was commissioned to create a permanent installation on the site of the historically important Almshouses in Catherine Street. Constructed in 1450, the Almhouses had recently undergone structural repair and enhancements following an initiative by Land Securities, Exeter City Council and English Heritage to create an improved setting for one of Exeter's most historic landmarks.

The installations use an eclectic mix of archaeological finds, fibre optic lights, industrial glass, and text to lead the visitor on a journey through the space, hinting at the multiple layers of its history. The intention of these artworks is to create significance from the ordinary.

Remnants of objects dug up from Glass doors, flickering lights and handwriting from the 17 century marked into porphyry stone marks a journey through the Almshouses. Traces are offered allowing the visitor to the space clues to the past. The glass doors offer part of a structure – there are no walls just doors. At night the chapel space is illuminated with flickering lights. The archeologically finds are also lit given the illusions of floating in space.

" My work rests on the depth and detail of research I carry out on each site... with the almshouse doors the artefacts are displayed in chronological order, with the earliest finds at the lowest level right up to a squashed drinks can at the top, this being the last item excavated from the site."

Patricia Mackinnon-Day

Patricia MacKinnon Day in collaboration with BDP Lighting received an Award of Merit for Marking Time The Almshouses, Exeter at the 23rd Annual International Association of Lighting Designers' held in Las Vegas, Nev., USA. The award was presented in the Site/Façade category, one of four winning projects entered into this category. This year, 160 projects were submitted and 23 were recognized with awards

Mackinnon-Day approached the Almshouses’ project in a spirit of investigation, teasing out the clues – both physical and psychological – to past and present human activity. The development of the artwork for the almshouses involved long periods of time asking questions, delving into historical documents and talking to many individuals, groups and organisations with specialist knowledge of the historic monument. Her research included many visits to Exeter County Records Office, Exeter Cathedral archives, and Exeter Archaeology.
 
Mackinnon-Day approached the Almshouses’ project in a spirit of investigation, teasing out the clues – both physical and psychological – to past and present human activity. The development of the artwork for the almshouses involved long periods of time asking questions, delving into historical documents and talking to many individuals, groups and organisations with specialist knowledge of the historic monument. Her research included many visits to Exeter County Records Office, Exeter Cathedral archives, and Exeter Archaeology.
 
“The research has taken me on a special and privileged journey uncovering the secrets of the Exeter Almshouse and Canon’s house.”

The work provides an explanation of the history of the buildings and consists of the recreation of the lost doors which would have originally been part of the Almshouses. These take the form of nine free-standing arched doors made of glass sited in the precise location where the original doors would have once been, each encapsulating archaeologists finds from the site. Copied from the medieval designs of the Almshouses, these doors are illuminated to showcase archaeological finds from the site encased within the glass.

 

Rows of still and flickering votive lights fill the chapel space, with texts from the historic Chapter Acts books. They describe the lives of mediaeval occupants and are etched into the paving flags which are illuminated by reflected light from low level walls and a field of fibre optics arranged to form a grid pattern. The soft lights flicker on the floor of the chapel space.

Princesshay Development Permanent Works