Mercedes Kemp

Mercedes Kemp

Associate Director Community and Research

Mercedes Kemp is Associate Director of Community and Research for WildWorks and Senior Lecturer in Fine Art at Falmouth University. Mercedes was born and grew up in Southern Spain. For the past thirty years she has lived in West Cornwall. Since 2001 she has worked in close collaboration with Bill Mitchell, developing storylines and text for site specific pieces in Malta, Cyprus, France, Belgium, the Occupied Territories of Palestine and Britain. She is a core member of WILDWORKS.

As well as the production of text and story line, her role within WILDWORKS involves creating and maintaining relationships with host communities, exploring their relationships with place and memory and adapting text to fit each new location.

Her method involves a kind of eclectic ethnographic research into a variety of sources: archives, libraries, cemeteries, village halls, bus stops, local historians, town gossips, snapshots, old photographs, conversations, and, above all, a close observation of the process of memory and its effect on the value that people place on their environments.

A Wild Memory

It is the Passion of Port Talbot, Easter Sunday, the procession to Calvary. We have been walking for more than three hours. Muffled, funereal drums lead the procession. The teacher, crowned in red roses, carries his heavy cross followed by a river of people. The streets are lined with crowds making wishes, holding photographs, cheering the teacher on, throwing petals in his wake. From a high window a young woman sings an aria to the suffering man. Every door, fence and front garden we pass is decorated with the memories of the town, homemade shrines adorned with spring flowers. Suddenly, from one of the houses, a young child dressed in black with a red ribbon on her hair darts through the crowd, the ribbon flying behind her. She runs to the teacher, touches his arm, exchanges a look and runs back. I can still see the red ribbon flying after she’s gone.