HINTERLAND by NVA, St Peter’s Seminary, Cardross

Last night I went to Hinterland. I now appreciate that I’m in the minority of attending such a coveted event, and thus, I thought I’d get my oar in. I’ve been eagerly anticipating this for a while, and it didn’t disappoint.

Hinterland is the official launch event of Scotland’s Festival of Architecture 2016, touted as an immense public artwork for audiences to explore one of Scotland’s most important modernist buildings for the first time in thirty years.  The ten day long event introduces the long term plans for the site and celebrates the journey of transition of this architectural icon.

Having explored the site before, I knew the practicalities of realising such an event would be substantial, it is afterall, an abandoned ruin in the middle of the woods. It’s a creepy site, with a real haunting sense of the past, yet visible connection to the present day, articulated mainly through graffiti heavy walls.

Without being a spoiler, it’s eerie, although not as eerie as some reviewers claim, perhaps I’m putting too much emphasis on safety in numbers, though I should mention my eight year old daughter was fine. A shuttle bus drops you on the periphery of the site, allowing for a minimally lit woodland walk through an overhanging veil of branches. Visibility is reduced to low level, ground surfaces and the shuffling of feet ahead. The odd flickering light is visible through the trees before the seminary reveals itself like spaceship from an apocalyptic film. Selfishly I was a bit peeved that other folk had the audacity to actually be there too.

The event is a two tiered approach allowing you to explore the architecture of the seminary, both externally as a voyeuer and internally as an observer to the performance itself. It’s an immersive experience, dark and raw, with light projections bouncing over graffiti rich walls to accentuate the architectural details and sculptural quality of the building. The haunting performance, held in the main chapel cleverly draws from the dark side of religion whilst transcending the associated sense of restriction. It’s a powerful reincarnation of a significant architectural gem.

I can’t quite get my head around the logistics of putting on such an event, and I think that’s what makes NVA a cut above the rest. I’m also thrilled to read today, NVA have been awarded £4.2 million towards the restoration of St Peter’s. I for one, am optimistic it will be tastefully accomplished, though not without challenge. Pure minted!




You can read more about NVA and St Peter’s Seminary here: