13th March 2018
Artes Mundi 7: Nástio Mosquito
Ahuge printed advertisement for suppositories hangs over the entrance to Chapter art centre in Cardiff. They soothe. They shrink. They provide pain relief, the ad tells us. They awaken God. “Just F***ing Take It,” the asterisked sign insists. Just the job, I thought.
Reader, I f***ing took it, or at least would have, had not the blister-pack of bullet-shaped items proved empty, when I stole a box from the pile on the gallery floor. Spilling out from a rip in the shrink-wrapped consignment that had been dumped there, it didn’t look as if it would be missed. I gave it a rattle and held it up to the light. So much for the promises of big pharma, contained in the leaflet accompanying the medicament. “Open the eyes, spread the butt cheeks,” it says, going on like this in five languages, including Arabic and latin.
Think I’ll give it a miss, thanks. The advert and the pills are part of Nástio Mosquito’s contribution to Artes Mundi 7, which opened last Friday at both Chapter and the National Museum of Wales. The Angolan artist is one of six contenders for the £40,000 prize, awarded every two years to an artist whose work engages “with the human condition, social reality and lived experience”. Now there’s a thing. When asked about the exhibition’s remit, Welsh contender Bedwyr Williams told Elephant magazine, “I’m a human and I make work about other humans.”
Lamia Joreige – The River
Advised by Emrys to research the artist Lamia Joreige, The River and the exhibition held at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study – Harvard University.
In this exhibition, the visual artist and filmmaker Lamia Joreige uncovers the different facets of Nahr Beirut (Beirut River), with its recent and rapid transformations from dumping ground to a place scheduled for ambitious development. After the River invites reflection on the interwoven narratives of the river, its surroundings, and the people who live and work there.
22nd February 2018
Tim Davis Swansea
Tim Davies’ research is practice-based, utilising a range of processes including film, photography, installation, two-dimensional and mixed media work.
Recent research has investigated the spatial, temporal and social aspects of various environments, exploring ‘real-and-imagined’ spaces. Davies’s practice involves navigating, intervening in, observing and responding to sites and representations of sites, by which means he attempts to understand how they are perceived, experienced and negotiated, recognising that ‘space is a practised place’.
Having practised as a visual artist for over twenty five years, Davies has worked collaboratively with musicians, theatre companies, poets and museums. He has also instigated site-responsive projects in Wale and Ireland and his own work has been exhibited in the UK, Ireland, Belize, Italy, Australia, Canada, Croatia, Estonia, France, Poland, Lithuania, Mexico, Czech Republic, China and the USA.
Davies’ work has been recognised through his selection to represent Wales in a solo show at the Venice Biennale of Art, being shortlisted for the inaugural Artes Mundi International Visual Arts Prize and through an Arts Council of Wales Creative Wales Award. His work is represented in several public collections including the National Museum of Wales, Arts Council Collection at the Hayward Gallery and the British Council.
Do you think of 1977 as the year Welsh art was revolutionized? You ought to. At the National Eisteddfod that year, in Wrexham, the late artist Paul Davies staged a protest as a performance piece. There was a prevailing lack of recognition for political art works in Wales and he intended to change this. It led him to found a group of artists who became known as The BECA Group.
The name was inspired by the ‘Merched Beca’ or ‘Becca’s Daughters’, the Rebecca Rioters of 1839-43. Merchaid Beca would destroy toll gates that were put on Welsh roads by the English as a means of charging yet more taxes on already struggling farmers. This unfair taxation affected mid and south Wales’ agricultural communities in particular as they were already in dire poverty at this time due to poor harvests. Merchaid Beca intended to change this. Although they are referred to as Merched – Daughters, they were in fact men dressed as women, mostly farmers. In an early example of performance protest, they wore the traditional Welsh Lady costume, blackened their faces with soot to maintain anonymity and stealthily left their families, riding out on horseback into the night.
The name ‘Rebecca’ was taken from an obscure verse in the Bible, with which Wales’ non-conformist communities would have nevertheless been extremely familiar:
And they blessed Rebekah and said unto her, Thou art our sister, be thou the mother of thousands of millions, and let thy seed possess the gate of those which hate them. Genesis 24:60
One act of gate-breaking by the rioters included a protester acting as an old lady – a ‘mother’ who talks to her ‘children’ – the rioters. Something blocks the mother’s way; she is old and cannot see well. Her children are concerned; nothing should restrict their mother. They offer to move it for her, she feels the object and realises it’s a gate put there to stop her. The children, offended, offer to break it down, but Rebekah has faith and looks to see if it can be opened; to her horror it has been locked and bolted to which the children insist: ‘it must be brought down, mother; you and your children must be able to pass’ to which she replies: ‘Off with it then my children’. It becomes clear here that for the rioters, Rebekah is a mother symbol; the mother of the land -and the people of the land are her children.
Ivor Davies was born in Treharris, south Wales in November 1935.
He studied at the Cardiff and Swansea Colleges of Art between 1952 and 1957, and later at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland. He also completed a PhD on the subject of the Russian avant-garde.
Davies taught art history at the University of Wales and at the University of Edinburgh. He became the head of cultural studies at Gwent College of Higher Education in 1978 where he remained until his retirement from teaching in 1988.
Much of Davies’ work is stimulated by Welsh culture and politics.
In the 1960s he made works of art by using explosives, reflecting his idea of the element of destruction in the world and in society. He was also involved with the Destruction in Art Symposium in London in 1966.
A well-known Pembrokeshire artist will be exhibiting her work at the National Assembly for Wales during October. Dinas Cross based Cynth Weyman will be having a solo exhibition in the Futures Gallery, Pierhead Building, the National Assembly for Wales, Cardiff Bay between 2nd and 29th October (10am-4pm daily). Cynth will also be demonstrating her technique on 6th & 7th October (11am-4pm) at the Futures Gallery.
The exhibition entitled ‘Escapism in Colour: Pembrokeshire’ is being sponsored by Preseli Pembrokeshire Assembly Member Paul Davies.
Commenting on the exhibition, Paul Davies AM said “I am proud to be sponsoring Cynth Weyman’s exhibition, which is perfectly named. There’s certainly plenty of colour and vibrancy amongst her artworks, which particularly stand out against the historic architecture of the Futures Gallery, Pierhead Building in Cardiff Bay.”
Starting with colour, shape, form and rhythmic design, Cynth Weyman is a true colourist and designer with a prolific imagination. Fine art paintings, wall hangings and fashion pieces go through a fascinating and inspiring metamorphosis.
Cynth has developed and named her contemporary textile relief technique as ‘Intaglio Strati’. Artworks and ‘my posh scarves’ collections inspire great conversations. Certainly a ‘wow’ factor! Visitors are invited to interpret Pembrokeshire’s seascapes and rocks in the glistening winter sun and rediscover more images by looking again. There’s also a surprise in store from St Francis School’s 7 year olds from Milford Haven!
At the entrance are two lithographs, one black and one white, inscribed with the word “Beca”. Beca was an influential group of Welsh artists from across Wales, active from the 1970s up through the 1990s, founded by Davies and his late brother Paul (1947-1993). It soon developed stature and influence with the addition of new members. The key figures included Ifor Davies, Iwan Bala, Peter Telfer and Tim Davies. Each artist brought a different stance and distinct contribution, engaging in dialogues and collaborative ventures, creating art that critically communicated with the public through their shared belief in addressing Welsh issues.
The ethos of the Beca group continues throughout Peregrination. The aesthetics of Davies’ art resembles a type of tribal dance captured in collages of found and recycled material. The construction of image develops through creative play and holds the spirit of folk art. Davies’ great concern and fear for the human condition are expressed through his explorations of history, politics, and a keen engagement with social issues. The process reflects an emotionally charged engagement with Davies’ own experience of growing up in Wales and being Welsh.
David Garner was born in Ebbw Vale, South Wales. He studied at Newport and Cardiff College of Art and the Royal College, London. He has exhibited widely including the National Museum Cardiff, the Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow and the Hubert Winter Gallery Vienna. Garner is one of Wales’ leading visual artists, having exhibited work alongside internationally acclaimed artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Jenny Holzer, Bill Viola and Mark Wallinger. His work has been purchased by the National Museum and Galleries of Wales, Contemporary Arts Society of Wales and the ‘Richard and Rosemary Wakelin Purchase Award’. He was awarded the ‘Ivor Davies Award’ for work that “conveys the spirit of activism in the struggle for language, culture and politics in Wales.”
Iwan Bala is an established artist, writer and lecturer based in Wales. He has held solo exhibitions annually since 1990, participated in many group exhibitions in Wales and abroad and is represented in public and private collections. His work was exhibited in four Chinese cities in 2009. He has published books and essays on contemporary art in Wales and is a frequent lecturer on the subject. He has often presented and been interviewed for television. Iwan Bala is cited in most published compilations on contemporary art in Wales.
Welsh Artists Talking book – Tim Curtis
Featuring Brendan Stuart Burns, Ivor Davies, David Garner, Robert Harding, Alfred Janes, Christine Jones, Jonah Jones, David Nash, Terry Setch and Lois Williams, this collection of interviews with artists from Wales is further evidence of the renaissance of the visual arts in the country. The ten artists talking to Tony Curtis vary in practice from figurative and abstract painters through a ceramicist to sculptors in stone, wood and metal. Their work and words provide, at once, a history of twentieth century art in Wales and a guide to making in the twenty-first century.
Welsh Artists Talking includes perhaps the last ever interview given by he late Alfred Janes, friend of Dylan Thomas, whose career spanned sixty years. His contemporary Jonah Jones talks about the artist as artisan, while at the other end of the age spectrum Brendan Stuart Burns reflects on the influence of location on his work. The book also includes David Nash, the internationally acclaimed sculptor, and artists such as Christine Jones and Robert Harding, whose reputations are now burgeoning.
Collectively, the book explores the relationship between art and place, identity, spirituality and the market place. With their emphasis on working practice and historical context these interviews are an invaluable record.