Christopher M. Hight – The Ruin

Christopher M. Hight

22 August // Awst – 30 September // Medi 2016

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The latest exhibition at Oriel Blodau Bach is by Carmarthenshire photographer, Christopher M. Hight.

He says of his work: “I am based in West Wales and my inspiration comes from the local landscape, its nature, history, mythology and culture, with which I feel such a deep connection that I feel I could live nowhere else, though I have tried. It is an ever changing and evolving landscape, sculptured for better or worse by us the people who inhabit it make our living from it and gain our pleasure within it.

For me Black and white enables me to capture not only the vista before me but also the emotion and sense of a place not just at the moment of pressing the shutter, and will enable you to share that emotion and sense of place long after you have enjoyed the photograph.”

Responding to the original function of the gallery as a noticeboard, Hight has produced a series of postcard size images from his ‘The Ruin’ series of works. The images focus upon the ruined St Michael’s church at Llanfihangel Abercywyn, Carmarthenshire.Medieval in origin, the church has six gravestones, refered to locally as ‘Pilgrims’ Graves’ in the churchyard, to the south side of the church.

The Ruin
Wondrous is this masonry; shattered by fate
broken is the city; labors of giants crumble.
Fallen roofs, ruined towers,
rime-frosted mortar,
the mutilated roof collapsed,
undermined by old age. Earth’s embrace has
the deceased master builders,
the harsh grip of the ground, until a hundred generations
of people departed.
The Ruin from the Exeter Book 10th Century

Nazma Botanica

Nazma Botanica

11 July // Gorffennaf – 19 August 2016

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The latest exhibition at Oriel Blodau Bach is by Swansea based artist, Nazma Botanica.

We’re delighted to be showing two works from Nazma’s recent series of collages from a project called Eco Warriors. The portraits are created using found images alongside the artist’s photographs on canvas.

Nazma says of the work: “I started creating this body of work two years ago after falling ill suffering from panic attacks, anxiety and depression, with fear acting as a dominant force. Using collage to create anthropomorphic beings – half animal half human – I brought out the monsters of my childhood, the process has been a cathartic and empowering. Some of these monsters started to grow into warriors, with positive feelings of renewal and hope.

Eco Warriors is about caring for nature, for each other and believing in oneself. Being creative everyday is essential to our well-being and discussion supports a brighter future.”

The project asks questions of the viewer: What is an Eco Warrior? Do you know any Eco Warriors? Are you an Eco Warrior? How do you treat your environment every day? How do you treat the people around you? Do you treat animals the same way? What do you want to protect?

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George Manson: The Leisure Book

George Manson

30 May // Mai – 8 July // Gorffennaf 2016

The latest exhibition at Oriel Blodau Bach is by George Manson – The Leisure Book . The Greatest Hits . Oriel Blodau Bach Edition 2016.

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“I’m excited to be showing my art at Oriel Blodau Bach. Here I am holdin it.”

Oriel Blodau Bach has been lucky enough this summer to be hosting the work of Cardiff based artist George Manson. George used the opportunity to create a best of edition of his Leisure Book series in which he combines drawings and short stories. The work has its roots in a love of the absurd and the silly and Manson’s stories range through an alternate universe of lovable and deranged characters.

The news sheet style piece was different to any of the work we’ve had so far and took the idea of the gallery which is an ex notice board in a small village in west Wales and turned it on its head. Using the space which would once have housed local notices and information instead as a mouthpiece for the artist’s own bulletin style notices of the unusual and the wonderful was a great juxtaposition of the strange with the potentially mundane setting of the village noticeboard.

You can find out more about George at his website georgemanson.co

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Sam Vicary

 

Sam Vicary

18 April // Ebrill – 27 May // Mai 2016

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Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature – the assurance that dawn comes after night and spring after winter.

Rachel Larson, Silent Spring

“A walk in the aftermath of a storm at the beginning of this year confirmed that the lanes and bridal ways around Oriel Blodau Bach are wild and un-kept. They already showed signs of Spring even in the wettest, coldest weather and the promise of renewal.

For me making new work is about showing the ‘struggle’. I leave behind the physical process of drawing, continually over-painting and rejecting marks and colours for the sake of the form. Painting is about finding the correct balance, enjoying the subtlety of the relationship between form and surface. Revealing just enough of the intended.

Framing the smallest patches of land and sky, I realised my expectations of regeneration were replaced with a sense of loss and detachment. I noticed changes in the landscape and a much quieter dawn chorus. Flooding and high winds had felled great trees and paths had been washed away. Instead I saw hedges and trees cleared to make way for fresh tarmac and last year’s patches of flowers had gone. Those spaces reflecting the times and people I have lost in just one year.”

Sam Vicary lives and works in Cardigan, west Wales.

Sam Vicary

Oriel Blodau Bach’s current exhibition features four small paintings by Cardigan based artist Sam Vicary.

Vicary has come back to her practice in recent years after a long hiatus from creating work and her lightness of touch and sensitive eye have made it a return worth waiting for. Using the natural world around her as inspiration she creates works which take snap shots of the countryside.

These abstract compositions are meditative in nature – rather than trying to convey a place with broad brushstrokes and landscapes the paintings take a small square of the world and bring it in to focus. The paintings that Vicary has created for Oriel Blodau Bach explore the budding first emergence of spring in its fresh newness as well as in its darker moments. Vicary brings to life the feeling of winter light still falling on the first green moments of spring.

The four small pieces each find form in the natural world with branches and leaves creating abstract shapes. The artist uses the narrow focus of the pieces to offer a microcosm on the world and a moment of reflection. The first few tendrils of green in a new spring can be signs of hope and renewal in a new year but they also lend starkness to the dark around them and in so doing make it more profound.

The paintings make perfect sense placed in the village of New Inn. Bringing a small patch of the green all around it in to the heart of the village puts a different focus on it – the landscape is no longer the back drop to what’s going on but at the heart of things.

Kirsten Hinks

June 2016

Jonathan Anderson

Jonathan Anderson

7 March // Mawrth – 16 April // Ebrill 2016

 

Artist Jonathan Anderson has made a new piece of work in his ‘Coal Dust Mandala’ series for Oriel Blodau Bach.

Using found materials and coal dust, these deceptively simple objects comment on environmental themes and thoughts about our current use of fossil fuels whilst simultaneously contemplating archetypal ideas about our spiritual condition.

“Mandalas and coal might equally be seen as power generators: one in the realm of the spirit and psyche, the other in the realm of human industry and technology. In our secular age a coal dust mandala might mediate a human desire for wholeness and reintegration in the continuum of the universe.”

Joy Sleeman
Senior lecturer in History and Theory of Art at the Slade School of Fine Art
‘Coal Dust Mandala’ catalogue, Oriel Myrddin Gallery 2012

 

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Jonathan Anderson is a Swansea based artist who has been working in South Wales since graduating from Swansea Metropolitan University in 2007. He has kindly let us show a piece of his work in Oriel Blodau Bach in the midst of his busy schedule of exhibitions all over the country.

Although his work is contemporary, in his practice Anderson is quite a traditional artist. Unlike so many artists these days, working in several different fields and coming back to their practice, Anderson has a strict work ethic and is daily to be found in his studio in Swansea. Here, amongst the Buddha heads and coal dust, it is clear that this strict regime sees him, each day, contemplating the small clutch of symbols which have become synonymous with his work: the simple outline of a house with no windows or doors, the Buddha heads, the pylon totems, light bulbs, clocks and circles.

The motifs in Anderson’s work are somewhat like the cold dust mandala which is on show here at the gallery. The idea of a mandala is that by focusing and meditating for a long time on the concentric shapes of the image one can attain a higher plain of enlightenment. Within Anderson’s practice these certain shapes and symbols become mandalas – not just studied and contemplated and meditated upon but lived with for many years. The depth of the artist’s contemplation of these shapes and symbols is clear in the work he creates – you can feel it.

Every element of each piece is simple but carefully selected to bring an idea in to focus. Even the materials used: coal dust and concrete, link the work to the industrial history of the area in which it is made and the future of the planet. The repetitive symbols of houses and clocks and pylons bring in to sharp relief the beauty and the horror of modern mass production and where it is taking us.

In Anderson’s work the viewer is offered a new, old way of seeing. The small palette of symbols and the smaller palette of materials: coal dust, concrete, board, narrows down the noise of the world to a single point of focus. The work takes the idea of a religious icon and transplants it in to the modern world asking the viewer to contemplate the house, the clock, the coal dust: the trappings of our busy world and be still for a moment.

 

 

Kirsten Hinks

April 2016

Jonathan Anderson

Seren Stacey

Seren Stacey

25 January // Ionawr – 5 March // Mawrth 2016

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Seren Stacey is a Llandysul artist who uses her observations of the natural world to create subtle interventions and site responsive works.

For Oriel Blodau Bach Stacey has created a colour chart of New Inn Village. Using walks around the village and a love of paint charts as her inspiration, the piece celebrates the small details of a place and the shifting moments of colour and beauty which you could drive past everyday and never notice. Each of the colours collected around the village has been given a name to create a comprehensive compendium of all of the colours of New Inn.


 

Seren Stacey has been developing her practice as an artist since graduating with a degree in textiles from Winchester School of Art. Her practice is brought together more by a certain attention to detail than any particular medium or subject matter. Works in recent years have involved film, installation and site responsive pieces but textiles and photography have often had a place in her work. Pieces with very different mediums and subjects are brought together by an interest in turning a microscope on the world and picking out the small details which make it beautiful.

The piece currently showing at Oriel Blodau Bach has its roots in earlier projects which explore ideas of place. Stacey has used the setting of the gallery itself as inspiration and used the unassuming village of New Inn where it is situated as her palate, creating a colour chart using photographs from various walks through the village.

Stacey picks out details from the photographs she takes and colours and textures are used to bring out aspects of the scenery and given names inspired by paint charts. The piece uses this lighthearted platform to investigate our relationship with the world around us. This seems particularly pertinent in New Inn which is a village arranged around a big through road. Drivers can pass through it everyday on their commute without noticing which village they are in or taking away the smallest detail which might be recalled later.

Stacey captures and magnifies those details that are lost to so many and this forms the basis for an inspection of our relationship with the landscapes around us. Even the places we walk through everyday can be whitewashed by familiarity and the work explores what happens when we turn our attention to the small scenes and accidental arrangements around us. In the piece the landscape is transformed and the viewer is offered a different viewpoint on the everyday. Tractor tyres and net curtains are abstracted and become new forms – patchwork pieces in the collage of a place – words in a lexicon that can be arranged in to a million different ideas and phrases.

Perhaps the piece, like the village, is about stories. The names on the images are a demonstration of how even in a scrap of colour or the pattern of moss on a wall we find compositions, narratives and histories. The world around us interacts not only with the senses but with the imagination and the viewer is offered a glimpse of all the stories and tales, real or imagined, that can be discovered in it.

The exhibition continues until 5 March.

Maya Mitten

Maya Mitten

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.

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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.

Kirsten Hinks

January 2015