Saturday, 12 December 2009

December 11, Cardiff

tactileBOSCH - Building Up Not Tearing Down

I went to Cardiff yesterday with other west Wales friends to join in with December 11, a day of arts events and visits in Cardiff organised by WARP g39 and Chapter Arts. The day marked the end of an experimental collaboration of artists from Birmingham, Bristol and Cardiff.

We started the day at tactileBOSCH to see Building Up Not Tearing Down, an exhibition of residency work from Rhys Coren and Fraser Cook (Bristol), Alistair Owen and Jason Pinder (Cardiff) and Sarah Farmer and Joanne Masding (Birmingham).

The work involved subtle interventions into the gallery space - so subtle indeed that we were required to actively search them out. It's the sort of thing that can be quite intimidating if you're not comfortable in 'Artworld' and not a tactileBOSCH regular, there's a lot of scope for staring at details, trying to work out if they are art or not. Once I'd decided to embrace my self-consciousness, I really enjoyed it; the slight tension and discomfort became part of the experience; all part of the ongoing debate about the nature and function of art. The beauty of the experience was to intimately engage with this amazing, semi-decayed space with its peeling paint, cobwebs, buckets for the leaky ceiling (the most prominent objects in the room - and the first focus of enquiry), odd bits of ironmongery etc. I found myself watching other visitors to see if I could hijack their finds. I watched someone discover a really discreet piece involving guitar strings tautly installed along a number of beams and tuned to different notes - and then enjoyed pinging them myself in his wake. Delicately beautiful, intimate and democratic - the show was a gentle, funny celebration of the space and its artful decay.

Next we went on to Chapter in Canton to see their new show (and the second in the newly refurbished space), Fragile Absolutes by Dubliner, Alan Phelan. The artist gave us all a brief talk about the show, but later we were lucky to get a wee personal tour of the works. A very charming introduction to the show! My favourite piece was Death Drive (interrupt the circular logic of re-establishing balance because he is the lowest outcast) making reference to street racing. I really liked the scent that had been specially commissioned in America for the show which was the orangey smell of the cleaning polish used to buff up the car interiors. This is the second venue of three for the show which alters as it shifts home - the first showing was at the Irish Museum of Contemporary Art in Dublin.

Alan Phelan - Fragile Absolutes Death Drive (interrupt the circular logic of re-establishing balance because he is the lowest outcast)- seen here

Alan Phelan - Fragile Absolutes - Seen here

I liked the paper cabbages too - part of an artist workshop with Chapter installed in the gallery. The newspapers are reproductions of stories about industrial and political disputes; nice Art Povera overtones.

Next we trooped off (a weird little snake of artists) through the Cardiff back streets to visit two artist studio complexes, Kings Road Studios and Printhaus...on to The Hayes to watch a publicly screened showing of a Michael Cousins curated series of artists' films outside St. David's stop CAI - a new bar and venue in Cathays, a welcome warm up - it was COLD out there!

Kings Road Studios, Cardiff

Last stop was a visit to g39 for a preview of Richard Bevan's show - the gallery is tiny and it was way too cosy to see the work properly - we headed back west.

g39, Cardiff


  1. Love this work too..your blog makes me want to move back to Wales!!

  2. Thanks oswaldflump! Hey! You're from Wales? Brilliant - you should come back for an art visit!


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