Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Emma Pearce

Emma Pearce - Pocket Drawings

Swansea based Emma Pearce is showing two works as part of Outsider at Oriel Myrddin Gallery. Her Pocket Drawings are the crumpled, worn receipts and paper scraps that lurk in the bottom of handbags and pockets; that collect the dye from our clothing and the dust and dirt from our everyday lives. Framed under glass, the usually over-looked detritus of the day becomes delicate, intimate art objects.

Emma Pearce - Drawing Apparatus

Drawing Apparatus is a collection of wooden rings, incorporating pencils in different configurations which fit onto the fingers. The idea is that the restriction on the body effects the quality of the mark making.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Carol Kingsbury Gwizdak

We went to the National Botanic Gardens of Wales on Thursday. The current show in the gallery Delicate Balance is by jeweller, Carol Kingsbury Gwizdak. Carol exhibited with Oriel Myrddin Gallery in 2009 as part of Crafted: Contemporary Craft and Fine Art.

There is a particular poignancy to Carol showing in this space as she previously lived in the courtyard of Middleton Hall before it became the National Botanic Gardens in 2000. The show includes a comprehensive collection of work including drawings and prints as well as some quite conceptual images based on a historical collection in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Carol's work takes "...unorthodox materials and traditional techniques to draw attention to our idea of what is precious..."

Crafts curator, Ralph Turner has said of the work: " Carol Gwizdak's Jewellery focuses on ecological issues that draw on the visual and conceptual language of the natural world and in so doing reinstates nature in its purist form as the most precious of all commodities."

The fact that much of it is displayed under glass domes like a rare Victorian collection; that the natural objects incorporated into the pieces are held in stasis, impotently isolated from the natural environment, colourless; I was struck by the dark undercurrents to the work. There is something slightly horrific, slightly romantic, slightly Gothic; and the setting of the Botanic Gardens and its historical legacy added to the feeling.

Carol Kingsbury Gwizdak - Valued

A new series of framed works Valued, are based on the Bollinger collection of diamond necklaces in the V&A Museum. The pieces are made from burrs which are held in place on a background of wool fabric as a "...metaphor for society's dependence on wealth and status."

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Naomi Leake

Naomi Leake - Wind Street - Image copyright of Naomi Leake

Outsider at Oriel Myrddin Gallery includes the video work of Swansea artist, Naomi Leake. Her film, Wind Street is set in the street of that name in the centre of Swansea, notorious for its abundance of weekend revelers. Naomi, dressed in a very benign looking sheep costume, approaches the street from the darkness. She walks slowly passed the clubs, pubs and drinkers with various responses from cuddles and strokes to an incident where the cameraman receives a punch in the head. At the end of the road she walks back into the darkness whence she came. The backing track is a piece of beautiful choral music.

It is a simple piece of performance, but has an amazing depth in its references. The Welsh sheep cliche is there but also the Lamb of God - reinforced by the choral soundtrack; the victim, the sacrifice. In her lecture at the gallery last Saturday, Sue Griffiths (Head of Visual Communications and Contextual Studies at Swansea School of Art) made a psychoanalytic argument for the piece as symbolising 'object loss', the infantile loss of symbiosis with the mother for which we continue to yearn but never find. She also made reference to the complicated layers of looking that are evoked by the piece - various manifestations of 'the gaze'. The identification of the viewer is interesting too, are we looking at the sheep or identifying with it? Is the sheep the outsider, or does it point up an other-ness in the drinkers, in their own form of Saturday night fancy dress?

The piece was originally part of a show at the Elysium Gallery in Swansea called Looking For Love. Another film piece in that show has Naomi attending a speed dating event dressed in a wedding dress - I haven't seen this piece yet - but I'm looking forward to seeing it sometime, it sounds totally intriguing.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Diana Heeks

Diana Heeks - Drawer 1 - seen here

Diana Heeks - Drawer 3 and 4 - seen here

Diana Heeks' recent body of work is the result of her MA studies originally at Cardiff and latterly at Aberystwyth School of Art. Diana originally trained as a painter in her home city, Birmingham. Her paintings are abstract, often referencing landscape, but my favourite works reference textiles. Diana has worked often with the visual culture of south Asia and the Middle East, and the paintings which reference clothing of this culture are some of my favourites. She has made a series of images entitled Jubba.

Diana Heeks - Jubba - seen here

In this image, the start of her MA studies can be glimpsed in the stripes and also I think a slight sense of frustration with the limitations of medium.

Diana Heeks - Drawer 2 - seen here

What I admire about Diana (other than the work itself) is her focused, uncompromising attitude to her practice. She has a deep understanding of her own motivations and interests and is unafraid to take months and years over examining and deconstructing the techniques, colours and subject matter that interest her with a kind of obstinate vision (she would call it 'playing').

Diana Heeks - Indian Yellow - seen here

I went to Diana's studio when she was still experimenting with ideas of pleating and corrugation, and ruminating on how it should develop. I really like the outcomes in the work from her final show.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Mark Folds

Mark Folds - Lovespoon

Here's a little more about the work showing in Oriel Myrddin Gallery's current show, Outsider.

Mark Folds is a sculptor based near Newcastle Emlyn in west Wales, he moved here from Peckham in south London a few years back. Mark was the fella behind I Love Peckham, a one man campaign in the 1990's to love Peckham by anonymously mending dilapidated street furniture and transforming benches into art pieces. Badges, T shirts and a range of I Love Peckham seaside rock followed. The name has now been adopted by Southwark Council for their annual festival - so i guess Mark's hard work payed off - Peckham is loved!

In 2009 Mark had a solo show with Oriel Myrddin Gallery, Comfort Zone which posed a few questions about the low-flying jets we have an abundance of in west Wales. He installed a scale down version of a Tornado jet in the gallery space covered with raw sheeps' wool (accompanied by interesting aroma). On the hills around Carmarthen town, Mark sited giant sheep motifs cut from carpet - a little message to the pilots and a bit of fun for the residents - one did get sabotaged by Friday night revellers, but it's all part of the story in the end.

For Outsider, Mark has carved a giant lovespoon, here's a paragraph from Sue Griffith's catalogue essay for the show: "Mark Folds began referencing the Welsh tradition of the lovespoon some years ago, after relocating to Wales from London. The text on these large scale sculptures speaks of the uncertainties of love and commitment, and also evokes the irony of the object itself, once meaningful and rich in history, and now a tourist 'nick-nack' available in kitsch gift shops. They can be read as bleakly humorous, or hopeful - we smile, because we know that despite the irony, we will still commit to loving" Sue Griffith

Michael Johansson

Michael Johansson
- Strövtåg i tid och rum (Strolls through time and space) - seen here

I like Michael Johansson's work, the obsessive bit of me feels such exquisite satisfaction at the organisation - ahhhh! The junk shop-aholic part of me loves the stuff...

Michael Johansson - Packa Pappas Kappsäck (Pack Daddy's Suitcases) - seen here

Michael Johansson - Vi hade i alla fall tur med vädret, 2006 (At least the weather was nice) - seen here

Michael Johansson - Bleka Minnen, (Faded Memories) - seen here

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Nacho Carbonell

Nacho Carbonell - The Diversity series - seen here

Nacho Carbonell is a Spanish designer based in Holland, his new series of experimental pieces, Diversity is now on show at Palazzo Ferre in Milan.

Nacho Carbonell, Diversity (preview) from robertanderson on Vimeo.

“I like to see objects as living organisms, imagining them coming alive and being able to surprise you with their behaviour. I want to create objects with my hands, then I can give them my personality. I turn them into communicative objects that can arouse one’s sensations and imagination. In short, what I want to create are objects with a fictional or fantasy element, that allow you to escape everyday life.” Nacho Carbonell

Saturday, 10 April 2010


Louise Burton, David Garner and Mark Folds - installation shot of Outsider

Last night was the opening of Oriel Myrddin Gallery's new exhibition Outsider, I've been looking forward to seeing the show installed. Originated by Oriel Myrddin Gallery and curated by our Gallery Manager, Meg Anthony, the show has a particular sensibility that reflects the ethos of the gallery but also the vision of Meg as a curator.

Outsider is an exhibition of works by eight contemporary artists either living, working or trained in Wales; Louise Burton, Carwyn Evans, Mark Folds, David Garner, Naomi Leake, Colin Mains, Emma Pearce and Gaia Persico.

The word "outsider" has many connotations and in the art world it carries extra meaning in the sense of the outsider (untrained) artist - but that is not the focus of this exhibition. In this context the outsider is an-other, not self, differentiated, separated, a stranger, the unconscious, an other place, that which troubles us or is forgotten. It is the feeling of standing outside the 'norm' that we all feel at some point and that some feel more keenly due to their particular circumstances.

Louise Burton - Imogen - Photo copyright Louise Burton

I'll post more about the work as the show progresses. It is privilege to work in a gallery like Oriel Myrddin, and have the opportunity for the show and the individual artists to work slowly on your thoughts and sensibilities as you inhabit the gallery together for the duration. Often your initial feelings about a piece unfold into further understandings. Sometimes the piece which stopped you dead on first contact leaves you unmoved by the close. Sometimes the subtle interactions and interventions of the curation and the space bring about new perspectives. Often the business of getting the show together, hung and promoted leaves you too close to the work to be objective, a bit of time to digest always pays off.

More images on Oriel Myrddin Gallery's Flickr page.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Ffotogallery Book Art Fayre

I hope I might get down to Cardiff on 17 April to go along to Ffotogallery's Book Arts Fayre. It looks like it will be fun with stands for all sorts of publishing and artists' books. Here's a link to the blog which lists all those paticipating.

Ffotogallery Arts Book Fayre - seen here

Monday, 5 April 2010

Jonny Hannah

Jonny Hannah - Nantucket Sleighride - seen here

I like this lino cut by Jonny Hannah, courtesy of St. Jude's Prints. The Nantucket Sleighride was a grisly term used by Nantucket whalers after they had harpooned a whale and the distressed beast dragged the boat at high speed until the whale was exhausted and eventually killed (grim grim grim).

This particular print commemorates a grisly tale for the Whalers too...it tells of "Owen Coffin who was cabin boy aboard the whaler Essex, which was destroyed by a sperm whale in 1819. Owen ended up in the lifeboat with Captain Pollard, his uncle. Two other lifeboats also put out. During the next 3 - 4 months, the lifeboats separated. One was never seen again, but some of those on the remaining two boats were eventually rescued. During those long months at sea (and on desert islands), many of the men died. The remainder eventually had to resort to cannibalism to survive. After the dead of natural causes were consumed, the men determined to draw lots to see who would sacrifice his life for the others. Owen Coffin ``won'' the lottery. The Captain tried to take Owen's place, but the youth insisted on his ``right''. The executioner was also drawn by lot. That ``winner'', another young man named Charles Ramsdell, also tried vainly to swap places with Owen. Again he refused. Owen's body kept the others alive for ten days (Captain Pollard refused to eat his nephew). Another man died, and his body kept Pollard and Ramsdell alive a few more days until they were rescued." seen here

I remember the album Nantucket Sleighride by Mountain too from the 70's - a riff from the title track was used for the British political programme Weekend World.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Helen Frik

Louise Bird blending into the background amongst the handmade toys

I went to Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff tonight with my friend Louise to see their new show Difficult by Helen Frik.

There had been a call out from the gallery for people to contribute handmade toys (the odder the better) to the show for an installation piece called Higher Up, where to which would be created in one room of the exhibition. Louise submitted two of her serene crocheted zen nuns to the show, one orange, one blue. They were arranged with a raggle-taggle group of other toys in little scenarios - I fancied they were meditating with their odd crew of folks and creatures, calming their various neurosis and quirks.

We spent a long time there amongst the strange, idiosyncratic toy community. The centre of the room was lit from a giant bedside lamp decorated with sinister black figures. When I read the gallery info afterwards I realised the toys are meant to be moving towards the light but become discouraged by the black guardians, we are asked to contemplate what the toys are escaping from and what might be beyond the light -but I didn't really get that feeling myself or feel inclined to ask those questions. Half lit, with cracks of light striping the floor from the adjoining gallery like the bedroom door set ajar of your childhood bedroom, we felt quite compelled to sit on the floor (and did) - nice to be in amongst the odd and the weird and the cobbled together. There were dubious antics, love-ins, eccentric collaborations and whisperings; unlikely pairings and motley crews even a pack of knitted Brownies. We just enjoyed discovering the characters and their relationships to each other and the space.

The rest of the show was interesting, funny in parts - but it was the toy room that stole the limelight for me - visit Louise's blog for her very interesting take on the experience.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Blast House 2

Blast House 2, the second in a series of literary events programmed at The Lyric Theatre in Carmarthen took place last Tuesday evening. A nice line-up of poets read during the evening including Menna Elfyn and David Greenslade - my particular favourite was Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch.

Film was provided by Gareth Hugh Davies (my colleague at Oriel Myrddin Gallery). Well Known for his paintings; indigo twilight landscapes and studies, darkly brooding trees, glowing evening windows and street lamps, Gareth's films are a natural progression for his work. Simple short durational films; but through their simplicity they stir and disturb deep feelings. Here is a section from Ostinato - a versatile little blackbird singing in Gareth's garden. My favourite was a short film named Procession 1, passing car headlights cast shadows of the front garden hedge against the front wall of a house, hypnotic, a little sinister and melancholic, really beautiful.

Jazz and experimental music took the stage from Orfeo 5 and Parking Non-Stop with poet Zoe Skaulding.

Thursday, 1 April 2010


Cross-fire from Studio Mrmann on Vimeo.

This fascinating film is part of the Future Craft Exposition which, in turn is the result of a five year research project, Past, Present & Future Craft Practice (PPFCP), based at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design at University of Dundee. "The project explores new directions, practices and perspectives in contemporary craft with an ultimate goal of defining a new relevance for craft in the 21st century."

The film is directed by Geoffrey Mann and produced by Chris Labrooy:

"The focus of Cross-fire was to examine the intangible characteristic of the spoken word and investigate the unseen affect of sound upon its inhabited environment.

The project centralizes around the context of a domestic argument. In this case the event samples an audio excerpt from the 1999 Sam Mendes Film ‘American Beauty’. The slow building dialogue between the three central characters family dinner climaxes with a sound clash of emotions. The cross-fire of the argument traverses the dinning table but where previously the inanimate everyday objects such as plates, cutlery, teapot etc were unable to express their character, the intensity of the conversation deforms their once static existence into objects of unseen familiarity. "

Cross-fire (resin 'Sound Artefacts' from the project) - seen here

Mike Nelson

Mike Nelson - Quiver of Arrows - seen here

Mike Nelson - To the Memory of H.P. Lovecraft - seen here
I'm quite excited by the choice of Mike Nelson to represent Britain at the 2011 Venice Biennale, it feels just right to me. The Guardian published a nice series of photos today. One of my favourite exhibitions of recent years was Psycho Buildings at the Hayward Gallery in 2008; Mike Nelson's contribution, To the Memory of H.P. Lovecraft was amazing. An empty room recently wrecked by...what? That's the fun of the piece, you're left to imagine the narrative. Nelson has been nominated twice for the Turner Prize and here's a Tate video about him.