Sunday, 31 October 2010

Absent But Not Forgotten: 2

The second in my ongoing art project with Jacob Whittaker is happening tonight in Carmarthenshire. Following our show at The Last Gallery earlier in the year, we are having a one-night-only Hallowe'en event this evening, Absent But Not Forgotten: 2:

An installation combining projection and sound with textiles and furniture @7pm. Later...Sound performance from Jacob Whittaker with Halloween classics.  PLUS: We want you for our spectral collection – come and be photographed (under a sheet) for our Polaroid ghost gallery...

We'll be showing a new piece of work which is based on the 50 word ghost stories that were contributed through the website as part of the project. It's going to be spooky! 

If you are in the area - you are welcome to join us from 7pm...

Absent but not forgotten 2: Trailer from jacob whittaker on Vimeo.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

LUX at Oriel Myrddin Gallery

Donya Coward - Textile Taxidermy (Greyhound) - seen here

I'm very excited that the work for our winter show, LUX at Oriel Myrddin Gallery is starting to arrive! I have been the curator for this show, so it's wonderful to begin seeing the works in the flesh. A box arrived this morning from Donya Coward, her Textile Taxidermy dogs heads are beautiful, humorous  and exquisitely crafted. Sculpted in the style of hunting trophies, they are made with crochet and knitting along with antique and reclaimed fabrics, beads, buttons and oddments. There is a Scottie Dog, a Greyhound, a French Bull Terrier, a British Bulldog and a Pug. We have a few dog lovers amongst the gallery staff (including me!) so they are proving very popular.

We will hang the show next week ready for the opening on Saturday 6 November at 6pm. We also have a one-night-only evening of artists' films, Light Loop showing for the evening; films are from Gareth H Davies, Emma Pearce, Julie Ann Sheridan, Simon Whitehead and Jacob Whittaker.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Andreas Ruthi

Andreas Ruthi - Miyake Shop - seen here

I have noticed that the Cardiff based art agency, Mermaid and Monster has added quite a few names to its list of represented artists recently. There's some really interesting work on the website. I particularly like these images by Swiss artist Andreas Ruthi.

Andreas Ruthi - seen here

Andreas Ruthi - Cartier Table - seen here

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Ifor Davies

Ifor Davies - Ty Casglwr/House of an Accumulator - seen here

I went to visit artist Ifor Davies in his Penarth studio last week, I'm very excited that he has agreed to contribute three works to Oriel Myrddin Gallery's winter show, Lux. I have always liked Davies still life paintings and that is what we have chosen for the show. The images here are not those that will be shown but they capture very beautifully the atmospheric interiors, subtly imbued with symbolism. 

Ifor Davies has been a pivotal influence in Wales for many years from his early performance work in the Destruction of Art movement of 1960's, to the recent mosaic design installed by Tessa Hunkin in Westminster Cathedral. 

Ifor Davies - Ceithiant - seen here

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Louise Bourgeois - The Fabric Works

Louise Bourgeois - Untitled 2007 - seen here

I can feel a trip to London coming on...I don't want to miss the inaugural exhibition at the new Hauser & Wirth gallery in Saville Row which is open from 15 October. The show, Louise Bourgeois - The Fabric Works, comprises of 70 pieces made between 2002 and 2008 along with four large scale sculptures. The drawings are made from the domestic textiles collected and hoarded by Bourgeois over her long life, and make reference to the family business in which her mother was an expert weaver and seamstress. I like this quote from the artist: ‘I always had the fear of being separated and abandoned. The sewing is my attempt to keep things together and make things whole’.

The show continues until 18 December.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Threads of Feeling - The Foundling Museum

Worckt with flowers - Linen or cotton embroidered with flowers© Coram - seen here

An exhibition at The Foundling Museum in London's Bloomsbury called Threads of Feeling opens on 14 October. The Foundling Museum tells the story of the Foundling Hospital which was established adjacent to the current museum and demolished in 1928. The hospital came into being as London's first home for abandoned children, a place where unmarried mothers could leave their babies if they were unable to take care of them. 

Between 1741 and 1759 the children admitted to the hospital were left with a token, often a small scrap of fabric which identified them with the mother. Perhaps taken from the mother's clothing - a pocket or a cuff - it served to identify the baby but also the mother should she be able at some future time to come back for her child; but sadly this was apparently a relatively rare occurrence. The little swatches were pinned into a billet book along with a written record of the fabric and possessions of the child.

Threads of Feeling is an exhibition of these little scraps which are usually held in London Metropolitan Archive being too fragile for permanent display. This archive actually constitutes one of the country's most comprehensive collection of 18th Century textiles and gives a particular insight into the fabrics worn by everyday women of the period.

The incredible poignancy of these little tokens, the emotions that must have been invested at that moment of farewell; in that decision to give a child into another's care, are hard to look to. I am sure that the exhibition will be an emotional experience. The show continues until March 2011. 

Flowered all over with cards - Cotton or linen   
printed with a playing card pattern © Coram - seen here

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Marius Grainger - Soft

Marius Granger - Gwymon/Seaweed

Marius Grainger is a recent graduate of Brighton University, currently living in Cardiff. His solo show Soft opened tonight in the gallery at West Wales School of the Arts in Carmarthen. I first met Marius when I showed work in Milkwood Gallery in Cardiff and he had just completed a residency, Not Drowning, But Waving in the basement space. The work he showed on that occasion was very interesting - slightly unresolved, but imbued with potential.

This selection of work has consolidated that potential into a strong and cohesive show. I particularly liked a series of small, black felt sculptures called Gwymon (Welsh for seaweed). This selection of tiny domestic objects, (chair, book case, bannister rails, globe...) pinned on the wall, are made awkward through the medium of their making. Shown in a continuous line and placed just far enough apart to convey a sense of dislocation and isolation from each other, they are remarkably tender and poignant. Matt black and dense, they absorb light, concentrating overwhelming ideas and emotions about loss and grief into the little, inadequate memories left in the possessions of loved ones. The stuff of life, the objects we choose and gather - left behind us at our death for others to deal with. 

The show is divided into distinct halves, the other work shown here is larger scale sculpture. These floor standing pieces humorously reflect upon masculine identity and sexuality, and the art historical traditions and symbolism inherent in the sculptural form. Hard, phallic structures are draped or sewn into soft, floppy fabrics - mostly velvets. The works are sometimes appended to soft furniture - a sofa cushion or an upholstered stool. Grainger says of the work "The phallic sculptures are about illegitimacy, a failure to live up to a particular masculine ideal, or sculptural ideal."
Marius Grainger - Tent

The exhibition title, Soft is beautifully appropriate. Grainger's work talks about inadequacy, the agonising inadequacy we feel in the face of death and sex, the failure and impotence of our power and our ego in front of our passions, our expectations and ultimately our death. It also celebrates the tenderness and gentleness of which we are capable.

Marius Grainger at the gallery
West Wales School of the Arts

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Echoic Objects at Gallery SO

Karen Geyer - 'Grauton' Amplifiers, 7 boxes, sound and light installation - seen here

One of the places I missed on my recent trip to London was the new Gallery SO in Brick Lane. The gallery's focus is '...contemporary art objects and jewellery'. Recently arrived in London, the original Gallerie SO was established in Switzerland by Felix Flury in 2003. The current show Echoic Objects looks really interesting and features artists Marianne Flotron, Karen Geyer, Niamh Riordan, Strotter Inst., Anna├»k Lou Pitteloud and Steve van den Bosch. Reading the exhibition statement and looking at the images, the show appears to use projection in various forms in conjunction with objects to dislocate and reinterpret form and function. There is a live sound performance on 15 October by one of the participant artists, Karen Geyer, which also looks intriguing. If anyone gets along to the show - please tell me more!

Anna Lewis

Anna Lewis' studio - seen here

Anna Lewis - Myth series - seen here

I went to visit jeweller Anna Lewis in her Swansea studio yesterday. Anna is one of the makers showing with Oriel Myrddin Gallery in our winter show, LUX. We had a look at some of her new work, lovely one-off pieces using found and salvaged objects and jewellery. We've chosen a collection of work that will compliment the pieces we'll be showing from London designers James Plumb - and serendipitously, it turned out that they had already worked with Anna on a photographic shoot recently! Anna has been involved with styling and production projects recently along with collaborator, fashion photographer Elliot Davies - together they are called Seven Everything. 

Anna Lewis/Elliot Davies - Pica Pica - seen here
Anna Lewis/Elliot Davies - The Hunted - seen here

Anna Lewis/Elliot Davies - Fragmentation - seen here

Jonathan Anderson - Dark Star

Jonathan Anderson - Dark Star - seen here

There's a colossus inhabiting the Mission Gallery in Swansea...I dropped in today to see Jonathan Anderson's first solo exhibition, Dark Star.

Anderson works with coal dust - along with a few other materials such as soil, concrete and sand; but coal dust has become a trademark material. This sculpture is huge, it fills the main space in the gallery from floor to ceiling and the coal-dust coated arms of the structure allow you just enough room to circle it. This is a brave departure from the works he has been engaged with, which are typically small and simply made drawings and sculptures.

Visually, the exhibition catalogue, with an essay by artist Anthony Shapland (g39), is a document about process and materials, the business of making. The concepts of the work involve a kind of Taoist balance between the material and the profound. Anderson proposes that his works operate like a kind of mandala, a meditative device. The essay suggests that Dark Star represents a departure from the consideration of the matter of the earth to the contemplation of things of the stars and space. The primal role of carbon in the universe, the multifarious ideas that carbon symbolises for us.

Infact, I found the experience of the exhibition is quite psychologically charged and physically palpable. The structure is arguably quite aggressive, it dominates this gallery-that-was-a-chapel with its physical presence. It is quite sinister, malevolent even - and the chapel interior is necessarily implicated in the reading of the piece. My immediate awareness was with the spikes of the work encroaching into my space, it could be construed as 'menacing', except we (the viewers) have chosen to approach the work in its confinement; so perhaps, in that respect, it becomes defended, like a spiny creature. Sculpturally, I was reminded a little of Louise Bourgeois' giant spiders - the way in which they inhabit and occupy space, but this work is resolutely masculine, the gesture is much more direct.

The apse of the chapel space is left empty - just one glittery limb extending a little across the threshold. But Anderson has chosen to concrete over the windows. It increases the claustrophobia and adds to the theatre of the piece - but it is a statement in itself. It talks about shutting off, making still, stepping out of sequential time, death. It is also a purposefully wilful and almost perverse thing to do to church windows. 
Anderson is a contrary artist and his work is marked by duality. Dark Star is both sardonically dark and touchingly vulnerable, theatrical and pragmatic. 

The Mission Gallery, Swansea
The exhibition continues until 6 November.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Jerwood Drawing Prize 2010

Virginia VerranSpace (signal) [detail], Pens on canvas, 76 x 62 cm 

Cadi Froehlich -Untitled (tea table), Side table, hot drink rings, 50 x 50 x 50 cm

The winners of the Jerwood Drawing Prize 2010 were announced this week, the selectors this year were Charles Darwent, Art Critic, Independent on Sunday; Jenni Lomax, Director of the Camden Arts Centre and Emma Talbot, artist.

The winner is Victoria Verran for her pen on canvas drawing, Space (signal), this is her description of her work:

‘Intuitions · layers · planes · demarcations · nations · symbols · threats · bombardments · pointings · ponds · settlements · migrations · repetitions.'

The 2nd Prize went to Cadi Froehlich, she says: 

Untitled (tea table) has evolved from a process of work looking at what was, what isn’t and what could be. Mindful of the passing of time and the potential of the future, this period of work has questioned the reality of the now. Evoking moments spent, lost or yearned for, the table bears the marks that illustrate meetings, conversations and quiet contemplations spent over a cup of tea. The format of the drinking and the style of cup changes, as does the purpose, aim or hope in the moment of the drinking.’

These works along with the other 70 shortlisted pieces will be shown at Jerwood Space in London from 29 September to 7 November 2010. Oriel Myrddin Gallery will host the touring show in March 2011.