Monday, 30 November 2009

James & Tilla Waters

James & Tilla Waters - Deep bowls
Another ceramic delivery in the gallery - this time these lovely little bowls made by James and Tilla Waters. Carmarthenshire based potters, James & Tilla trained with Rupert Spira in Shropshire, opening their own studio in Wales in 2002. Since that time they have built a quiet but prestigious reputation for their elegant, functional ceramics.

Kaori Tatebayashi teapot

Kaori Tatebayashi - Kohiki teapot

We had a new delivery from Kaori Tatebayashi in the gallery today, we're all in love with this exquisite teapot!

Sunday, 29 November 2009

The Last Gallery, Llangadog

The Last Gallery - Llangadog, west Wales

I visited The Last Gallery in Llangadog yesterday with friend and fellow artist, Jacob Whittaker. We are showing a joint project in March 2010 in the gallery ( this space for news!)
The gallery was originally a cobblers' shop (hence the name) and retains its delightful original features - a really beautiful little space. Artist, Julie Ann Sheridan and her husband, upholsterer Mick Sheridan own and run the space. Open at specified times in the year, some artworks are offered for sale, but the emphasis is on the experience of viewing art rather than looking to buy it. Since opening in 2007 there has been a consistently interesting programme of shows including Marcus Coates' film Dawn Chorus and Wales based artist Louise Bird's Hyperbolic Spiral Crochet.
Currently Julie is showing a series of her own miniature landscape paintings of the village of Llangadog.

Julie Ann Sheridan - Village View

Monday, 23 November 2009

David Clarke

David Clarke - The Unusual Suspects - seen here

We were sent a link in the gallery today from silversmith, David Clarke. I'm a huge fan of his work, and there are some fantastic images on his blog. The playful sense of subversion and absurdity in his altered silverware always makes me smile. I blogged recently on his contribution to the most recent show in Flow Gallery in London and his work was included in The Everyday (a show originated by Flow and curated by Simone ten Hompel), at Oriel Myrddin Gallery in 2008.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Amy Houghton

Amy Houghton - Mary Croom's Dress - seen here

I like these images of Amy Houghton's work. She is currently showing work as part of Taking Time: Craft and the Slow Revolution originated by Craftspace in collaboration with maker and academic Helen Carnac; currently showing at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. The exhibition "...explores how contemporary craftspeople respond to ideas about slowing down how we work and what we produce, and the importance of contributing to a more sustainable society."

The project blog quotes Carl Honoré, Author of In Praise of Slow: “The Slow revolution is sweeping through our fast-forward culture as people everywhere discover that decelerating helps them work, play and live better [the] Taking Time exhibition shows how craft fits into this Slow culture-quake. It offers a thrilling reminder that every object has a story behind it and that the art of making matters hugely to all of us.”

Amy Houghton - Cardigan Study - seen here

Amy Houghton uses her artistic practice " explore the hidden and revealed histories and stories related to old textiles and photographs..." she 'forensically' unpicks clothing and reanimates the process in film to try to understand and bring to life the nature and history of the garment. I have only seen still images, but it looks extremely interesting, and I really like their ghost-like qualities.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Caitlin Jenkins

Caitlin Jenkins - seen here

Thinking about Ewenny Pottery got me Googling Caitlin Jenkins! I had a joint show with her a number of years ago in the Washington Gallery in Penarth, Cardiff - my sgraffito paintings and her exquisite lettered vessels.

I found this wonderful image of Caitlin's hands on Flickr at The 2009 Smithsonian Folklife Festival.

Caitlin Jenkins hands - seen here

Ewenny Pottery - Wassail Bowl

Wassail Bowl - Swansea Museum - seen here

I've been thinking about this amazing pot kept in Swansea Museum. It's a wassail bowl made in Ewenny Pottery, south Wales in the mid 19th C. The pottery still thrives and is currently run by 8th generation potter Caitlin Jenkins. Her ancestors first began throwing pots in Ewenny in 1610, but there may have been a working pottery there even earlier as clay was first dug on the site in 1427.

The wassail bowl would have been used as part of a folk custom at Christmas time: "...Wassailing bowls were always decorated in the same way and this one has nearly all the expected traditional features...[the] Christmas tradition of carol singing door-to-door grew out of wassailing. The bowl contained mulled wine which the householder drank for good luck before adding more wine to the bowl." seen here

I have also seen a modern replica made in this style and apparently, it is a difficult thing to produce; this piece manages to have an amazing life and spirit in its making in addition to its virtuosity.
On my recent visit to Flow Gallery in London I saw this piece (below) by Kate Malone which has a strong resonance with the form of the wassail bowl although I don't know if it's intentional.

Kate Malone - seen here

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Once We Were Birds

Tina Carr and Anne Marie Schöne - Sajokasa - seen here
Photographers, Tina Carr and Annemarie Schöne came into the gallery yesterday to show us some of the work that will be included in their January 2010 exhibition, Once We Were Birds. I'm really excited about the show.

Setting out at the beginning of May 2009 they journeyed from the UK to Hungary to meet, speak with, listen to and work with Roma individuals and groups. Staying on a camp site in Budapest for 6 weeks and then in a converted van parked in a Roma settlement in the north east of Hungary, they have documented a remarkable series of still and moving images of Roma communities. Their blog also follows the progress of the project.

We are lucky to have Tina and Annemarie living locally here in west Wales, their photographic projects over the last 20 years have brought a depth and poignancy to a number of issues that are fundamental to the culture of our own communities.

Coalfaces documents " and landscape in the ex-coal communities of Cymer, Croeserw, Glyncorrwg, Abergwynfi and Blaengwynfi. These small, scattered and tightly knit settlements grew in response to the exploitation of high quality steam coal found in the valley. Now and since the destruction of the industry thirty years ago these villages are still dealing with severe problems of adjustment. Jobs lost in pit closures have not been replaced. There is still high unemployment and many families are experiencing a third generation dependent on social security benefits."

This project took 18 years to bring to print as a book - the launch was at The National Library of Wales in 2008.

Tina Carr and Anne Marie Schöne - Croeserw Amateur Boxing Club - seen here

My favourite series of their work is Abandoned,"...a still life series; intimate studies of abandoned homes, barns and places depicting a rural way of life in West Wales that has almost disappeared. This world is explored with almost forensic intensity."

Tina Carr and Anne Marie Schöne - Horns - seen here

Watch this space for more about Once We Were Birds...

More Nick Cave....

Nick Cave - Soundsuit - seen here
Just because this is such a delightful image....

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Nick Cave

Nick Cave - Soundsuit - seen here

Nick Cave - complete art hero! This is from his 2009 series of work shown at the Jack Shainman Gallery in New York. It made me think of this photo of a Navajo ceremonial mask.

Navajo mask - seen here

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Arthur Giardelli

Arthur Giardelli - Dwellings 1999 - seen here

I was so sad to hear of the death of Pembrokeshire based artist Arthur Giardelli on 2 November. I never had the privilege of meeting him, but I know from those who have that he was an amazingly wise and gentle man. He was born in 1911 in London, so he reached the very grand age of 98. He settled in west Wales in the 1940's and contributed hugely to the arts through education work; with the 56 Group Wales of artists and the Contemporary Art Society for Wales. He was a committee member of the Arts Committee of the Arts Council of Wales from 1965 - 75.

I have often heard tales of Giardelli's amazing personal collection of modernist works from artists he had met in Paris such as Picasso, Braque and Dubuffet and his friends Ceri Richards and David Jones amongst many more.

Most importantly, however is the legacy of Giardelli's own work, especially his constructions and assemblage. Made in relief on panels the work uses found materials such as shells, slate, wood and hessian and reflects his love of the coast, the rhythms and tides of the seashore; still powerfully resonant. He continued working to the end of his life. We were lucky to be able to show some of his work in the gallery in 2008 as part of 56 Group Wales show All of These Things.

I like this piece in Giardelli's own words: "...the visual elements which I wished to compound had to do with tides running over wide stretches of sand, slate, mist, whitewash, stone walls, driftwood, flights of starlings or oyster catchers. I could find no better way of getting the tone of slate into my work and it's characteristic kind of break than by making the pictures of this material. So the slate became headland, or the grey sea or sky. I turned spars and oars I picked up on the beach, sliced up with my saw, into flights of birds swooping away from me at dusk. From shell dust, cork from fisher men's nets, driftwood and bits of brass cut from taps that leaked, I made images of arrows of foam which trail behind incoming breakers. I was given all kinds of things people didn't want any more: a piano, cartwheels, broken furniture, brooms, snapped spade handles; and I worked with them. I learnt the magic of the medium: to make the sun out of yellow mud."

Culture Colony have a wonderful video of curator David Moore talking with Arthur Giardelli at his home - inspiring and uplifting to watch!

Monday, 16 November 2009

Kaori Tatebayashi

Kaori Tatebayashi - Collar - seen here

We have some new ceramics in the gallery from Kaori Tatebayashi - perfectly wonky, artfully imperfect domestic tableware.

Kaori Tatebayashi - ceramic tableware - seen here

I particularly like her hand built stoneware sculptures of clothing and domestic objects - white, unspeakably fine; melancholic. Ghost-like, but solid and brittle - calcifying the everyday nuances of objects into fragile memorials.

Monday, 9 November 2009

A Winter's Tale - Oriel Myrddin Gallery

Oriel Myrddin Gallery - A Winter's Tale

The winter show has opened at Oriel Myrddin Gallery, called A Winter's Tale, it features artists and makers who use ideas of story and narrative in their work. I feel very privileged that I was asked to contribute some work. I am showing a small series of works on paper and a new collection of recently made jewellery.

Kathryn Campbell Dodd - Hoodie 3

Kathryn Campbell Dodd - Charm for the Good Red Road
My favourite pieces in the show are from North Wales based artist, Steffan Jones-Hughes. I am totally enchanted by his Memento series of prints within mussel shells, such a beautiful concept. I've bought a series of three for an early Christmas present.

Steffan Jones-Hughes - Mussel Memento - photo: Steffan Jones-Hughes

Katy Nicola Moloney, a Swansea based jeweller, is also showing and I really like her narrative/domestic pieces. If I could chose, I'd have this lovely copper and enamel Welsh dresser brooch. I also like the humour of her plate and dome rings.

Katy Nicola Moloney - A Very Welsh Dresser - seen here

Katy Nicola Moloney - Just a Slice and After Dinner rings - seen here

Ceramic Collection at Glynn Vivian Gallery

C. 1814 Transfer design by James Brindley.

Whilst at the Glynn Vivian in Swansea, I had a proper look at the porcelain and Swansea china collection. There are some beautiful and lively historical pieces, really charming. Not much in the way of contemporary work, which is a shame, there's some fantastic makers working in Wales at the moment. However, the collections at Aberystwyth Arts Centre and the National Museum in Cardiff perhaps serve that function.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Tim Davies, Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Tim Davies - Figures in a Landscape

I was pleased to get down to Swansea to see Tim Davies' new show, Between a Rock and a Hard Place at the Glynn Vivian Gallery on Saturday. I enjoyed it more than I expected to. I've always liked Davies' work but I sometimes feel a little suffocated by the political content. This new work was nicely balanced; the political was integrally present but not overbearing. What I actually like most about Davies' work is the process, the meticulous repetition and the materiality, and this show did not disappoint. Throughout the exhibition, he uses postcards as the basis for the work. The foyer was particularly impressive showing the ongoing Figures in a Landscape 2004-08 series of tourist postcards their figures, often in local or 'national' dress, are cut out leaving a ghostly absence shadowed by the sensitive lighting.

Tim Davies - Figures in a Landscape

Installed film sequences in the main gallery of Remembrance Day ceremonies at Aberystwyth and Swansea are timely and poignant. A second film piece, Kilkenny Shift 2009, is aesthetically beautiful and conceptually sensitive - a film sequence ascending and descending the servants' steps in Kilkenny Castle in Ireland. Davies has made previous work using castles as tropes for power, this piece is far more subtle and intimate, commenting on the repetitious and uncelebrated lives of those who gave their lives in service. The message is conveyed through absence and loss - these are themes that resonate throughout the show.
The main gallery shows 40 images, once again using the vehicle of the postcard, each showing the image of a bridge meticulously isolated from its environment through a process of sanding. The images are, again, beautiful. The message is subtle, the bridge as metaphor for connection, power, negotiation. The images also focus in on the structure of the bridge as a strategic military target, a tangible symbol of connection and flow.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Sara Hubbs

Sara Hubbs - Angle Grind - seen here

Thanks to Abigail Doan for reminding me about American artist Sara Hubbs today. Sara works with old shoes using their inherent sculptural qualities to make new assembled forms: "... I create assemblages from discarded remnants of shoes and other personal ephemera. I investigate the relationship between these forms, and their materials while at the same time, providing these relics with new meaning. I am interested in the play between narrative and form and how it shapes the way we see. Looking to use and accumulation as points of contact with the world, muted and unseen spaces take shape..."

Sara Hubbs - Frequency Radio - seen here
I have often excused the compulsion to buy shoes by claiming them to be wearable sculptures (oh, the indulgence and self delusion!). Of all the personal possessions surely shoes are the most poignant as they mould their substance to our bodies and the nuances of our movement, recording our travels and encounters.

Sara Hubbs - The 4 M's: Material, Movement, Metaphor, Memory - seen here