Not everyone’s aware that 2021 has been designated the year of Wales in Germany! https://www.wales.com/wales-in-germany-2021 with a series of events planned to take place in both countries.
Having moved back to Wales in 2019 I am keen for my new home town of Abergavenny to be part of this celebration. It’s not the ideal time during a pandemic to be thinking of such a thing! However in the spirit of friendship and post-Brexit collaboration I’m in the early stages of curating a cultural project between Abergavenny and it’s twin Östringen in Germany.
My high level plan is to curate an exhibition of contemporary art (painting, photography, mixed media & sculpture) by professional artists based in Abergavenny to be shown in Östringen in the Autumn/Winter 2021, and for the exhibition to return and be shown in Abergavenny in the spring 2022.
Watch this space..
‘I wander’ is the result of nine short walks made from my home in Abergavenny, Wales during the COVID-19 lockdown. The initial idea was to make a series of random walks that complied with the allowed one hour restricted exercise; to walk for thirty minutes: take a picture on a Fuji instant film camera then return home, recording the route on the Ordnance Survey mapping App.
I am not alone making work during lockdown, many others were/are trying to make sense of the ‘unprecedented’ times including the Stroud based group Walking the Land, who invited me to join their Sacred Space: two metre distancing project: 21 artists in lockdown respond to “social distancing” in their various ways. Using collage, they consider what they cherish around them, what they really miss, and how their experience during the pandemic might become a call for positive change.
After making a few walks I began to think about how I might make a piece of work using the photographs and mapping data I would accumulate. Using a grid to show all the photographs and maps seemed like a logical idea, and translated nicely into nine walks. But because I ended up taking more than one picture per walk I decided to make different pieces of work to show online and in a gallery setting.
The ‘I wander’ animation/slideshow is a moving collage that documents each walk, it shows the body of work as a whole. The ‘I wander’ grid of nine scanned and annotated instant film prints above is the first work made from individual elements intended for printing and exhibition.
Gallery at Home, Llancayo Court, Usk, Monmouthshire, Wales, NP15 1HY (nr Windmill)
Moving to Abergavenny in South Wales in the summer of 2019 gave me many opportunities to develop my practise. It was exciting therefore to recently have a solo exhibition at the fantastic Gallery at Home near Usk.
The exhibition was part retrospective featuring 25 photography and video works made in the last five years, as well as new works made since moving to Wales. For the first time I was able to show many of my more experimental collages as well as straightforward landscape documentary works.
Unfortunately the COVID-19 pandemic cast a bit of a shadow over the exhibition run, and limited the amount of people who could visit the gallery. Sonia at Gallery at Home however was very proactive on social media and made this lovely short film to share the show with a wider audience.
After doing a number of residencies over the past few years and having recently bought a caravan, it seemed like the time was right to curate my own residencies i.e. to spend time in an area of my choosing at a time that suited me; to immerse myself in this location and to think about making new work. My first trip in October 2018 took me to the village of Llanvetherine, 10 miles from Abergavenny on the edge of the Brecon Beacons in South Wales.
To focus on my artwork for a week, to explore, to walk, to photograph, to film
To re-energise my creativity
To be in and re-connect with Wales. Llanvetherine is about 20 miles from Ystrad Mynach where I come from and the same distance from Newport where my family lived in the late 1960’s.
Borders – I was keen to explore the border between Wales and England and photograph any visual evidence of there being such a divide. This was as much about me as the actual landscape, having come from Wales but spending most of my life in England. I did walk some of Offa’s Dyke and the Three Castles (White, Grosmont and Skenfrith) built by the Normans soon after the invasion of 1066. I discovered the border ran along parts of the River Monnow and photographed both sides.
As ever it is the location where I stay and explore daily where I ultimately find inspiration. My time in Llanvetherine was no different. In this case it was an orchard in the grounds where I was staying. The Orchard needed some care and attention, but seemed to perfectly reflect the time of year, the Autumn light and colours of the apples and trees combining to hint at the perfect summer now faded and gone. I spent time in the space reflecting, and felt like injecting some my energy, so decided to play. Here’s the result:
Ystrad|Strata are very excited to be part of a cosmic mini-festival in Aberystwyth which will feature and celebrate aspects of future Wales. Visual artists, musicians, writers, performers and thinkers will gather for a day of imagining and creating future Wales.
With sci-fi and futurism becoming increasingly prominent in Welsh culture this event provides a timely opportunity to pull togerther the people working and making in the field together in one place. Amongst the artists taking part are the noted designer Hefin Jones whose Welsh Space Campaign and Cosmic Colliery projects have attracted world-wide attention. The headline band for the event is HMS Morris , bringing their cosmic pop-rock to the festival. The band were chosen as part of the BBC Wales Gorwelion scheme and have seen great success this year already playing to acclaim at Glastonbury and Festival No. 6. Supporting them will be the local electronic band, Roughion.
Arad Arad Goch Centre will be a space centre for the day with activities filling the building. As well as the music performances, there will be panel discussions on subjects such as literature, games, politics and art.
Canolfan Ofod Arad Goch Space Centre
Aberystwyth SY23 2NN
Sat 28th November 2015 (1pm-11:30pm)
Ticket sales and information on artists
“When life moves on, elements of the past remain. Those elements hang around and become a part of the future themselves”
I was first introduced to musician and producer Geraint Ffrancon by a mutual friend. Interestingly the three of us never met at the same time, so our first meeting had a bit of a blind date feel about it! We soon found we had a lot in common: both Welsh but living in Bristol, both studied an MA in Interactive Media at UWE, my first home was in Ystrad Mynach where Geraint’s dad was born and at some point we’ve had Hillman Imp cars to run around in!
Initially we met with the purpose of Geraint teaching me Welsh. This was not totally successful as we usually met in a pub, and conversation ultimately turned towards our feelings about Wales and potential art projects. Thus Ystrad|Strata was born…
Geraint and I both left Wales at a young age. Visits ‘home’ tend to elicit a mixture of emotions; from happiness through melancholia to frustration. We are effectively outsiders in our own country. Because of once being a part of and at the same time completely apart from the historical, political and cultural changes that have affected Wales over the past few decades, we can offer an interesting perspective on not only Wales’s past but also it’s present and it’s future.
Ystrad|Strata aims therefore to dig into the different layers of what it is to be Welsh, and to look beyond the cliches into what Wales has been, and what it can be in the future. To document our own works that fit under the Ystrad|Strata banner and to talk about future collaborative projects please check our blog: Ystrad|Strata blog.