The National Eisteddfod was in Wrexham this year and I am really glad we made the journey up from Carmarthen to see it. The general consensus amongst us was that Y Lle Celf was the best we had seen for a few years, there was a real sense of cohesion in the curation. I felt this particular show avoided some of the traps into which it has fallen in previous years, it was considered, fresh and forward facing - unequivocally Welsh but looking outwards to the wider art community.
The Gold Medal this year went to Caernarvon based Bedwyr Williams with a series of works, some of which were editions of works showing concurrently at Oriel Davies in Newtown. I particularly liked his modified Wellington boots, standing on white plinths and stuffed with straw, they are carved with stylised rural images - like a lino cut. Familiar, nostalgic and daft they encapsulate something particular and contrary about living a contemporary life in a rural community.
|Peter Bodenham - What we are at home with|
The Gold Medal for Craft and Design was given to Peter Bodenham for his ceramic work What we are at home with, Peter is Head of Ceramics of Coleg Sir Gâr, Carmarthen. Two other craft medals were awarded to London based Cary Davies for her ceramics and Sean Vicary for his animated film Re-told a mythical response to the building of a supermarket in Cardigan. Sean is a little curiously placed in the Craft and Design category, but his working process using built models and stop frame animation is undoubtedly painstakingly 'crafted', so perhaps it makes more sense than one might assume. I wrote to congratulate Carys on her win as we stock her work in our gallery shop at Oriel Myrddin and she told me she bought a pair of hand made clogs at the Eisteddfod to celebrate her win which she calls Clogiau Goffa Wrecsam / the Eisteddfod memorial clogs they've been causing a bit of stir at Brixton tube station apparently!
|Antonia Dewhurst - Gimme Shelter|
Other work I enjoyed in this years show included a series of Penny Hallas drawings, Antonia Dewhurst's Gimme Shelter series of drawn and constructed huts, Jonathan Anderson's Coal Dust Mandala's and concrete houses, paintings by Andreas Ruthi and Neale Howells and Roger Lougher's bilingual road signs which discuss 'the sublime'.
Within Y Lle Celf, an installation entitled Without Words / Heb Eiriau, featured the photographic work of Geoff Charles a Wrexham press photographer who died in 2002 in his 90's. The work was selected from a collection at The National Library of Wales by Peter Finnemore and Russell Roberts. Specifically re-printed for the show, they are extraordinary images - exhibited without explanatory titles they capture now-forgotten events, situations and people - read more here.