Monday, 31 May 2010
Tuesday, 25 May 2010
Gareth Hugh Davies - Clochyrie 2008 - seen here
One of the great things about Oriel Myrddin Gallery is that all the staff are artists too; we are all either practising artists, writers or crafts people or were trained as such. One of our crew, Gareth Hugh Davies is a painter and is currently showing work at St David's Hall Gallery in Cardiff. The show continues until 11 June.
Gareth uses painting to explore the liminal , the difficult to articulate thresholds, the unknowable and mysterious. He says of his own work: "My work is an investigation into the relationship between the aesthetic, cultural and mythological in landscape painting..." and painting is a unmatchable vehicle for this kind of exploration. He quotes Simon Morley on this process in his artists statement: '...a mental state in which this self is brought to the brink of dissolution through confrontation with the powerful experience of unboundedness of no longer being securely sited within a unified self'.
Alongside this 'spritual' investigation, there is a darkness - menace, even, in Gareth's work. The traditional form of landscape painting provides an anchor which allows it to tread into unstable territory. Twighlight and night scenes make the familiar worrying, glowing orange lights in house windows, bonfires and car headlights become ambiguous points of connection in the indigo of dusk and night time. Welcoming and friendly on the one hand, dangerously alluring on another - we become moths at the flame. Tracks and traces in snowy woodlands lead us...where - to whom, or to what? Gareth had a solo show at Oriel Myrddin Gallery in 2007 entitled Olion, a Welsh word which hints at these tracks, traces and marks both in the content of his work and in the process of painting as a medium.
Sunday, 23 May 2010
We made a trip to North Wales yesterday to visit the newly redesigned and rebuilt Mostyn gallery in Llandudno. Three years and £5.1 million of investment have transformed the gallery into a top class space for contemporary art and a feather in the cap for art in Wales.
The building is beautiful - the guiding principle has been "Simplicity, subtlety and sophistication - plus one or two surprises" and that has been achieved with bells on. Rumours tell that the opening on Friday night was sardine full with folk from across Wales and beyond and fairly riotous, a fitting celebration for the project's realisation. The gallery retains its 1901 terracotta facade and is now topped off with a golden spire functioning as a landmark for the gallery. The project has been designed by Dominic Williams, architect of the Baltic Centre in Newcastle. The building has six gallery spaces, educational facilities, a new cafe and shop space. Improved behind-the-scenes facilities have upgraded the conservation status of the gallery which will allow for significant loans from other collections.
The show is a good survey of current practice, some omissions, some surprises; but good and well considered curation. The hardback catalogue which accompanies the show (at a bargain £5) is a good investment too. I enjoyed the show as a whole and particularly Carwyn Evans work - a series of dry-point prints of singular ploughed fields, a collection of occasional tables 'ploughed' on their tops like a mini agricultural landscape. The series of Peter Finnemore's photographs from various stages of his career, exceptional, visionary work. Sean Edwards formal investigations of the everyday potential of sculpture. Berminghan and Robinson's hut constructed from the archived documents of Oriel Mostyn prior to the expansion. Richard Higlett's/Wally French's painted paint brushes. Paul Emanuel's sheep fleece studies...
The strangest moment of the day for me, however happened shortly after we arrived. We walked in on a performance piece by Aberystwyth based Showroom, Y Term Cymraeg am 'Road Trip' (The Welsh term for 'Road Trip')a re-enactment of a former performance at the National Eisteddfod in Bala last year. The last part of the performance was a tombola using cloakroom tickets we had been given at the door, the prize was the actual tombola - a beautifully made object which had been a feature of the Showroom socials that the group had held in Aberystwyth. I won! My ticket was 158. I will honour the spirit of the tombola and cogitate on it's next artistic manifestation...watch this space.
Friday, 21 May 2010
The fourth Artes Mundi prize has been awarded to Israeli artist Yael Bartana. The work of the eight shortlisted artists continues to be on show at the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff until 6 June.
I found Yael Bartana's work intriguing and powerful, I came away feeling exercised and challenged; acutely aware of the difference in cultural signifiers, the unfamiliarity.
Thursday, 20 May 2010
Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow - Sophie Fiennes film of Anselm Kiefer's studio estate - seen here
Tuesday, 18 May 2010
Studio Formafantasma - Autarchy - seen here
Thursday, 13 May 2010
I used to subscribe to Modern Painters magazine, but I gave it up a while back - it seemed to get less and less relevant to me. This month's cover really tweaked my interest however both the objects shown in the image and the painterly treatment of the shot.
The makers met in 1999 at the Design Academy Eindhoven and after graduation launched Atelier NL in 2006 to pursue their interests in local resources for clay. To make the Drawn from Clay series they studied geological soil maps and set about visiting and seeking the permission of landowners to collect buckets of particular soil types from Dutch regions to make clay. They have discovered 14 clay types from different regions (Polders) of the Netherlands. Nadine Sterk says of the project "What I really like about this material is that so many details, so much history, jump out from a little piece of soil...the surviving brick factories still use natural clay, but they mix it with all different minerals to get the perfect colour"...because of this homogenisation, plus the prevalence of white-glazed porcelain, we tend to forget that ceramics are made of earth or that towns and nations have forged identities through architecture, tools and tableware whose peculiar characteristics owe much to the dirt beneath the inhabitants' feet.' P.65 May edition of Modern Painters
There is a beautiful balance between the rustic simplicity of the form and materials and the contemporary additions of pewter and glass; both elegant and earthy.
Atelier NL - Drawn from Clay - seen here
Friday, 7 May 2010
This annual award is given to a Welsh artist whose work is purchased for the Gallery’s permanent collection. Meg selected three small-scale sculptures from the artist’s recent ‘house’ series [Concrete House (2009), Concrete House with Coal Seam (2010) and Sand House Mould (2006-8)] which she describes as: "...poetic and profoundly moving, as the house form draws us close to the artist’s psyche as well as questioning (dis)harmony on a social and political level."
Jonathan Anderson - seen here
He began his artistic career at Guildford School of Art with a traditional art school training for the times, and his own work was in the same mould in his early career. In the 1950's, exposure to the American Abstract Expressionists via Mark Rothko changed his perspective on painting overnight and his work began to explore the themes and ideas he was being exposed to. He was recognised fairly quickly and his work was bought for collections such as the Tate and Peter Styvesant. In 1960, Peter was curated as part of the exhibition Situation, which took place at the RBA (Royal Society of British Artists) Galleries, London.