Thursday, 31 March 2011

Scotland Meets Wales at Oriel Davies Gallery

Lowri Davies - seen here

Dawn Youll - Anodyne Adventure - seen here

I'm really looking forward to the upcoming shows at Oriel Davies Gallery in Newtown. From 16 April Placement - Ceramic Connections: Wales and Scotland will be in the main gallery, curated by two ceramicists;  Wales' Lowri Davies and Scotland's Dawn Youll. There's a fabulous line up of artists and makers including Laura Ford whom both artists had favoured on their wish list of participants:

Stephen Bird, Claire Curneen, Lowri Davies, Ken Eastman, Nick Evans, Laura Ford, Anne Gibbs, David Shrigley, Cecile Johnson Soliz, Conor Wilson, Dawn Youll

"Placement explores the subject of place, whether geographical or make-believe, and associated ideas around arrangement and placement, whether located to a place or within history. It aims to highlight important associations in the field of ceramics concerning location, geography, geology, ritual, commemoration and souvenir. Works by eleven artists reveal how ceramic objects can, and have been, used to articulate a particular language: telling stories and connecting us with both past and present."

Jonathan Anderson - Dark Bulb, 2009 - seen here

At the same time, in the Test Bed space at Oriel Davies, Swansea's Jonathan Anderson (also a Scot - so the connections are widened) will be showing an installation of works with the title Aggregates - I'm very interested to see how he uses the diminutive space, I can imagine it will be a powerful experience. 

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Ruthin Craft Centre

Nora Fok  - seen here

There's an interesting clutch of shows coming up at Ruthin Craft Centre in North Wales. Gallery 1 is showing Cloud Nylon: The Jewellery of Nora Fok - the first ever solo exhibition for the jeweller, textile artist and 3d designer. She meticulously creates wearable pieces from nylon monofilament.

Norman Makinson - Festival of Britain commemorative mug - seen here

Gallery 2 is showing a retrospective of the ceramic work of the late Norman Makinson who died last year at the age of 88. He was best known for his Wedgewood Queen's ware design for the Festival of Britain commemorative mug in 1951.

Stephen Farnan - Bowl (The Last Day) - seen here

Gallery 3 takes an overview of potters currently working in the ancient technique of slipware. The technique dates back to 17th Century, and has a strong history of use in Wales. Slip... celebrates the work of a number of contemporary makers including Stephen Farnan.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Neti & Hugo

Hugo Colville - Yet-another-day - Seen here

I went with Meg and Mary from Oriel Myrddin and our graphic designer, Heidi Baker, on a studio visit today to meet an artist couple who live in the hills above Newport in North Pembrokeshire. Neti and Hugo - Annette de Mestre and Hugo Colville. Heidi drove us out to where they live. Once you have negotiated a wild 1/2 mile track through beautiful countryside, past a  duck pond/lake with a wee rowing boat, you see their little blue traditional cottage; but they don't live in there, they have a studio/home/shop in a utilitarian, corrugated structure nearby. You enter first of all into a small shop area selling their cards and bound books, prints and paintings which nestle alongside their collections of beautiful old objects, bottles, pots, old glass baubles. You are invited to examine Hugo's Button Museum - a beautiful, theatrical set of old wooden draws full of delightful vintage buttons, shell, textile, glass, ceramic...

Annette de Mestre - Blissful - Seen here

Beyond this entrance is their living and working space; a covetable old plan chest, a little kitchen area looking across the garden, an old wooden table and mis matched chairs, iron chandeliers full of cobwebs. Neti and Hugo strike you as a mythical couple, they are the living embodiment of the stories and books they make together, it is a miracle that they found each other and made this life together, it struck me that it could not have been any other way, they would have found each other across oceans. It made me feel deeply happy to know that they just work away there every day, finding the beauty in little objects and thinking about it, writing about it, drawing it - living cheek-by-jowl with their work. I feel very privileged to have been introduced to them, and look forward to finding out more about their extraordinary life and work.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Jessica Holmes

Jessica Holmes - A Hole into which to Retire for Protection - seen here

Jessica Holmes - The Lesson is: Fallout Shelter is Needed Everywhere
seen here

After yesterday's post on the new show at London's  Transition Gallery, I went off to have a look at the work of one of the contributors, Jessica Holmes. I like her recent paintings on wallpaper; the still lives and the dog images - beautiful.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Gilding the Lily at Transition Gallery

Jessica Holmes - seen here

I'll probably miss Gilding the Lily at Transition Gallery in east London, but it looks really interesting. I like the concept of the exhibition, it is a question that probably all artists - maybe all creatives - have to confront in their own practice. Here's the gallery publicity for the show: 

'To gild refined gold, to paint the lily,
is wasteful and ridiculous excess.' 

 If making art is in part an act of embellishment, one critique could be whether the embellishment is adding something new, deepening our view or whether it is just excess with no additional value. The word embellishment has a range of meanings, from making beautiful, improving, adding fictitious details, to wasteful exaggeration. This range indicates its slippery subjectivity, depending on the eye of the beholder.

Even the most austere understated artist is an embellisher of sorts as nothing can be stripped away completely as there is always a fiction and pleasure at the heart of every artwork. The pleasure of making and of viewing would arise from the embellishing of ideas and materials, and whether or not the embellishment has become alchemic.

Each work requires a different strategy to achieve this act of embellishment. Some artists may explore ideas and materials through excess and opulence, others by pairing down. The artists in this show reflect this arc.

The show includes the work of Max Hymes, Jessica Holmes, Richard Livingston, Stuart Mayes, Will Tuck, Paul Westcombe, Laura White, Nicola Williams and runs from 19 March to 10 April 2011.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Make Room

Sarah Rees - Das Unheimliche - seen here

I popped along to the opening of Make Room at Milkwood Gallery in Cardiff last night, one in a series of shows in the capital celebrating International Women's Day. Milkwood Gallery, both a lovely shop stocking vintage and contemporary design and a gallery, are doing good things with their space in Roath, including giving artists a residency space in their ongoing Basement Project.

I particularly liked this piece by Cardiff based Sara Rees made as part of a project with The Welsh School of Architectural Glass in Swansea in conjunction with The Leverhulme Trust. Her artist profile for the show states her themes as "...late-capitalism, psychology and the on-going exploration of the interface between nature and civilisation." Placed on the floor inside an under stairs cupboard the work explores Freud's theme of the uncanny - the un-homely house; the piece is lit from within to reveal a tangle of plant life within its sleek glass form.

Friday, 11 March 2011

The Jerwood Drawing Prize

Lindsay Sekulowicz - Mid-autumn tiger

The Jerwood Drawing Prize is now open at Oriel Myrddin Gallery, it's very exciting to have this prestigious show here in Carmarthen. The selection is incredibly varied, the natural reaction whilst looking at the works is to chose your favourite, and we have set up a box where you can do just that. It's a tough choice, and I have a feeling my allegiances will change over the duration of the show, but at the moment I like this small drawing by Lindsay Sekulowicz...but I also like the tea table by Cadi Froehlich...

Here's a link to the catalogue.

Cadi Froehlich - Untitled (tea table) - seen here

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Jerwood Drawing Prize

Sian Conti & Meg Anthony musing over the hang for the Jerwood Drawing Prize

We'll be opening the Jerwood Drawing Prize show, which is touring to Oriel Myrddin Gallery this Saturday (2pm), I've been watching everything going up on the walls this week and there are some really interesting works involved. I have a few personal favourites including the winning piece Bolus-Space (Signal) by Virginia Verran. Watch this space for more on the show...

Virginia Verran - Bolus-Space (signal) - seen here