St Peter’s Seminary in Cardross (west of Glasgow) was built in the 1960s but after a very short life span as a college for priests, it has lay in a very neglected state for some time before evolving into a long-forgotten ruin. Not to all though, as the building itself is hailed commonly by those in the know as an architectural gem and one of the finest lasting modernist buildings in this country.
In 2011 the site was taken over by the NVA and they have spent a great deal of time firstly removing asbestos and making the building safe before getting to work on a masterplan for the future.
Hinterland (which unfortunately runs this week only) is the next step in the sites history and it begins with a short shuttle bus ride from the pier car park in Helensburgh. Visitors to the event are dropped off at the bottom of the Kilmahew Woods and promptly issued with a light sabre type stick which is used as an aide to guide them along the dark route to a soundtrack of haunting noise.
After a stretch of few hundred yards or so you are then rewarded with the first glimpse of the impressive Seminary building itself which peers through the trees as it has just landed from another dimension. The addition of light and music makes It feels like you may have stumbled across a test site from The X Files or similar. It is very cleverly done in fact.
As you enter the building the mood feels rather chilling but not scary (possibly as you are joined by several hundred other visitors at the time). The walls are lit with projections and candles line the window ledge of the crypt highlighting the lines and scale of the building while live actors perform a wonderful display in the centre of the main hall.
The haunting soundtrack and live performance were most definitely a huge crowd pleaser but the real star of the event is undoubtedly the building itself. Controversial I know but in my eyes at least it’s a thing of great beauty and it can’t wait to see it develop further in the future. The plans for St Peter’s drawn up by NVA are to turn part of into a 600 capacity art and performance space for public art and education. The remainder of the site will be left exposed and raw just like its current state. Let’s just hope they materialise.
Hinterland runs at St Peters Seminary until March 27th