15 December // Rhagfyr 2015 – 22 January // Ionawr 2016
Maya Mitten is an artist based in Newcastle Emlyn, Carmarthenshire. Working predominantly in collage, old books and magazines are her palette and the characters and places around her are the inspiration for the surreal landscapes for which she’s become noted. Maya is also known for her ‘portals’ such as The Magic Wardrobe, an installation piece which toured the UK and was voted one of the highlights of Green Man Festival by the BBC in 2013.
Maya is also well known for facilitating collage workshops in both the local community as well as in notable galleries such as the Saatchi Gallery in London.
Currently showing in Oriel Blodau Bach is a brand new piece by the excellent Maya Mitten. Based in Newcastle Emlyn, Maya is a powerhouse of art and creativity and she is always working on something whether it’s through her visual art practice or through her work as a DJ or running collage workshops.
Maya has exhibited all around the country, and her installation, The Magic Wardrobe, was voted one of the highlights of Green Man Festival in 2013 by the BBC. The Magic Wardrobe is an installation based around a kind of 3D collage. Spy holes and cracks around the closed wardrobe show glimpses of different worlds inside with different viewpoints showing different images.
Maya’s piece for Oriel Blodau Bach features a similar take on worlds within worlds and complexities of scale. Peeking out from a map of the area we see a different world emerging. The viewer is asked to see the world beneath a map and imagine the lives, the places and the people which it cannot hope to portray in its gridded two dimensions.
The map featured in the piece is of an area near to the gallery and within in it is a zippered opening through which the viewer can see in to the photographic past. It’s a very interesting piece to show in the location of Oriel Blodau Bach as the piece examines ideas around the identity of place.
The juxtaposition of two different methods of portraying a location – the map and the photograph – prompts questions about the nature of place. The small villages and towns of west Wales are at an interesting point in their history with technological developments shifting the focus of residents from the local to the international – offering a mixed blessing. Living rurally has become a different world with the ability for the remotest outpost to feel completely connected and up-to-date with the world. At the same time this inevitably leads to changes in the villages and communities of these places where so many of the services and facilities which formed the bones of the village have moved online or to the bigger towns turning villages with communities in to hamlets – outcrops of housing with no real social or communal structure to revolve around.
Maya’s piece is located in a corner of the world still coming to terms with its own sense of place and identity. Maps and photographs and censuses are the sketched outline of a place – the rough marks left for posterity but the spirit of a place is a harder thing to record. The piece prompts the viewer to question the community around them – to look to the places in between the archives and examine what it really means to be part of a place and to live in it.