Site specific installation, Commissioned as part of Experience Pommery #5: L'art en Europe, Reim, France

For its fifth consecutive year and as part of the European cultural season, Experience Pommery #5: L’art en Europe presented a selection of the best young European artists.

The location for Experience Pommery #5 was deep in the caves underneath the impressive Domaine Pommery, a major champagne producer in Reims, these caves were originally Roman chalk mines.

Nicholas Keogh and Paddy Bloomer were picked by CIRCA magazine to represent the Republic of Ireland in Expeirience Pommery #5. They were commissioned to create a new work for the project.

This work would not have been possible without the help and support of Martin Carter and the Lawrence Street Workshops, Belfast.

Starting thirty meters below ground the work ‘Underground House’ involved building a five meter high steel staircase to a disused cave and building a house in this cave. The work then continued with a network of custom-made cartoon style ladders reaching over fifteen meters in height to other disused tunnels and caves, some of which may have been abandoned since the Roman slaves first dug them.

The work incorporated mining, rigging, climbing, engineering, timber frame house building, home making and gardening. Gardening was a challenge, but a hardy selection of fungus and mushrooms were picked for the window boxes and back garden some of which are apparently still thriving today. When the house and staircase where in place Nicholas and Paddy were then joined by Martin Carter from the Lawrence Street Workshops, Belfast, for some of the most dangerous and stomach churning climbing, drilling and rigging.

During this work Martin became highly respected and revered by the locals. Martin then lead an expedition to find the rare stink horn mushroom. Welcoming a break from the poor conditions and high humidity of the caves the trio then embarked on a swamp adventure.

Underground House was bought by Pommery and is now on permanent display in the Domaine Pommery caves.