Anybody out for a few beers in Llandudno on Friday night might be mistaken for thinking their drinks had been spiked when they saw a group of people dressed in white smocks and wearing blank, white face masks gathering outside a disused garage in the heart of the town.
It made for a surreal experience, but this was not a bizarre religious sect or a re-enactment of the unsettling Solutions section of The League of Gentlemen's Christmas special (if you've never seen it, where have you been?!). It was the meeting place for Joel Cockrill's installation Ffloc, an immersive experience which converts an old mechanic's garage on Mostyn Broadway into a walk-through world of loud music, projections and bilingual voiceovers.
|Just another regular Friday night in Llandudno|
Ffloc translates as the English floc, "a loosely clumped mass of fine particles". Knowing the definition alone helps to understand the point of the installation much more, I think.
|The Sobbing House is made of rubber|
latex and looks great at night
stalking the corridors
of Oriel Mostyn!
One of the centrepieces of Llawn03 is the Haus of Helfa at 26 Augusta Street, which sees a reclaimed empty building transformed into a showcase for various different Welsh artists. Each artist has their own room or space, and you can walk freely around the house, up and down its four storeys, wandering in and out of them all. There are flickering television sets, picture frame-topped tables, an Edwardian style repository, a naked woman floating in a fish bowl, a room full of starkly lit white envelopes, even a room that you enter through two billowing ceiling-high sheets. Alan Whitfield's Eyes Down installation recreates a tacky bingo hall, complete with formica tables, bingo cards and dabbers. Every now and then Alan will don his glittery blue jacket to play a game, and the audience can play along. I was lucky enough to win a line (a Llandudno fridge magnet, something "I've always wanted"!), and there were prizes for winning a house too. Exhilarating stuff!
|One of the many|
fascinating rooms at the
Haus of Helfa
The launch night ended with a cabaret show at the Haus of Helfa by drag queen Divina De Campo. Llandudno isn't known for its gay scene, so to see a drag queen in its midst is a refreshing sight in itself. Divina entertained the audience like a real pro, belting out hits from Liza Minnelli and Tina Turner, and even The Pirates of Penzance. There's more to this girl than long legs and fright wigs though - Divina's operatic voice is stunning, and she can do the splits in stacked high-heel boots. Drag queens are renowned for their sometimes intimidating stage presence, but Divina got it just right. If an audience member wasn't comfortable with interaction, she'd move on, and not with a barbed retort either. Divina is a force of nature and a revelation for anybody who's not seen a drag show before.
|Miss Divina De Campo|
belts out Money, Money,
Money by Abba
And this was just Day 1. It's going to be a packed weekend, full of drag queen bus tours, outdoor movie theatres and dance performances in caves. A riot of diversity, colour and FUN!
My preview of the Llawn03 weekend.
My review of Llawn03 Day 2.
My review of Llawn03 Day 3.
Link to Llawn03 website and full line-up.