Deall y Lle: y filltir sgwâr/You are Here: exploring our square mile
This year, the artist members of the Rhôd Committee explore the themes in this year’s exhibition in collaboration with an invited artist //Eleni, mae artistiaid Pwyllgor Rhôd yn edrych ar y themâu yn yr arddangosfa ar y cyd gydag artist gwadd:
Toby Downing/Sean Vicary
Toby Downing is an automaton maker and kinetic artist, his works often includes found objects and have mechanical elements. The viewer is encouraged to directly interact by pulling a lever or winding a handle. He is also involved in the theatre as a puppet maker, puppeteer set designer and prop builder, working on collaborative projects in the UK and Europe.
Sean Vicary originally studied painting but became increasingly seduced by the possibilities of working in time-based media, his moving image pieces have been broadcast in the UK and exhibited worldwide. Recent projects have explored ideas of liminal space and identity, combining video installation with animation and augmented reality. His work deals with ideas of landscape (internal and external) and our increasingly politicised interaction with the ‘natural’ world. He often uses foundobjects and fragments of detritus to explore this relationship, manipulating these elements in a virtual space to create animated assemblages.
Sean and Toby will exploit the natural synergy between their practices to interrogate the Rhôd site, harnessing some of the natural systems at work to suggest a fictive narrative and uncover hidden processes.
Mark Halliday/David Shepherd
David Shepherd was formerly Head of Sculpture and then Media Art and Performance within the BA(Hons) Fine Art Course at the University of Wales Institute Cardiff (now Cardiff Metropolitan University). David Shepherd was born Wigan, Lancashire. Studied at Wigan School of Art and at Goldsmiths’ College London. Has shown work in the UK and
many venues across the world. He has worked in many mediums but the majority of his work tends to be in time-based/ sculptural / installation formats
Currently working on long term research programmes in Lake Mono [California] and Falun Copper Mine [Sweden].
“Shepherd’s work conveys ideas of improvisation – knocking together – fixing upand making do with available materials – the laborious, repetitive, some times
pointless production, of an endless process through which we construct our world
and thus, ourselves”
Mark Halliday is currently living in Wales where he has a studio base in rural Carmar
thenshire. A practising artist since 1988, he has exhibited and led projects in the UK and
abroad. Mark is an experienced teacher: Senior Lecturer in Fine Art at Cardiff
School of Art & Design, where he worked for nine years and, prior to that, Visiting
Lecturer at Central Saint Martins School of Art & Design. Particular specialisms include hot and cold casting techniques (in plaster, and inbronze and aluminium); drawing and modelling from the figure and construction inwood and stone. He has a particular interest in the sculpture of pre-reformation Britain and extensive knowledge of art history.
On the afternoon of 25th of May 2014 artists David Shepherd and Mark Halliday will, utilising basic technologies, improvised strategies and a homemade furnace, cast a series of small bronze sculptures. The resulting works will be buried at locations throughout the site and left to patinate in the ground for one year, after which time they will be excavated
and exhibited. It is anticipated that each piece will have acquired through entropy a unique patina that reflects the variable chemical makeup of the soils, silts, loams and clays that constitute the substrate of the landscape of theacres surrounding The Mill. The works will be relocated by a sculptural markerset above ground and a map of the site.
Jade Mellor/Jacob Whittaker
Jade Mellor has been a professional forager for over eight years, collecting wild food from the beautiful hedgerows, woodlands and coast of West Wales.
‘I pick what is seasonally abundant, with care and sensitivity, always leaving plenty to go to seed and for the birds. I am inspired by the landscape, the changing seasons and the wild bounty of blossoms, leaves, fruits and seaweeds, which I use to create delicious and unique food.’
Jacob Whittaker lives and works in Cardigan, Ceredigion. A committee member of the Rhôd Artist’s Group and co-founder of sonic arts group GWRANDO and Capel Y Graig art space, work includes sound and video installation, as well as documentary film for artists and community organisations.
‘As an artist I am interested in exploring and documenting everyday processes, rituals and traditions. Recent work has involved collecting and brewing hedgerow fruits and flowers, connecting with the landscape in a direct way.’
For Rhod 2014 we have explored the site and identified certain useful ingredients. The plants will be marked and a recording made at each site. On the opening day we will invite visitors on a walk to engage the senses; to explore the edible and useful things in the hedges, to listen and to enjoy the resulting recipe created in the gazebo.
Sean Olsen/Roger Lougher
Sean Olsen lives and works in Swansea. He gained his BA in 2011 at UWIC, Cardiff. Sean had his first solo exhibiton ‘Electronic Gamelan’ at Arcadecardiff, Queens Arcade, Cardiff in 2014. He wons the ‘Welsh Artist of the Year’ Sculpture Prize in 2013.
Roger Lougher gained his Documentary Photography MA at Newport University in 2007. His work is concerned with landscape,language and community. He has further
researched this through his involvement in Rhôd. He wrote “Rhôd is a rural laboratory for the development of new strains of contemporary art practice, the recoding of the DNA of
landscape theory and the deconstruction of the Sublime and the Romantic.” RogerLougher is the co-chair of the Rhôd Artists Group.
Somewhere Something / Rhywle Rhywbeth
Olsen could be the next Dr Who. He makes strange musical instruments that look as if they have arrived through tear in the fabric of the universe. They have the over-engineered
look of soviet era pop instruments and yet they use state of the art technology. For Rhôd
Olsen has re-charged his sonic screwdriver and released into the garden at Melin Glonc a
device intent on creating a twenty first century pastoral symphony. Roll over Beethoven!
Elsewhere Another / Rhywle arall Arall
Lougher, ignoring the Doctor’s advice, is going to reconstruct a rogue tree that threw itself
into the garden at Melin Glonc during the winter’s storm. Frankenstein to Olsen’s Timelord,
Lougher will attempt to regenerate the dismembered limbs of a poplar tree with the support of a circle of leylandii. As vital energy is channe led into the seemingly lifeless logs Olsen’s composer ‘Somewhere Something’ will listen in.
Beatrice Williams/Kathryn Campbell Dodd
‘Sheared’ consists of a small section of film taken from a British Pathe newsreel made in 1917. It depicts soldiers offering their labour to fill a shortage of manpower in the rural economy as war took its toll. As propaganda, the message is clear.
From 1914, the network of mills in surrounding valleys of Drefelin responded to the call for the production of a cloth to create a bespoke uniform for the newly formed Welsh Army Corps. The native homespun was Brethyn Llwyd (‘grey cloth’) but as a mix of black and white fleece, from flocks from different parts of Wales, the results were not always consistent resulting, ironically, in a lack of uniformity. Few examples survive.
‘Sheared’ takes the news values and historical backdrop of this collegiate image of the war effort and replays it as a film installation that animates the inner workings of Melin Glonc. Here the network of cogs, pulleys and axels bathed in a red light, contribute to a raw but degraded image where mechanisation, human frailty and the interaction with animals on screen, becomes a more disturbing encounter with history and the archival imagination.
Beatrice Williams has no formal CV as such, leaving school at the age of 14 to work in the kitchen of a local landowner. She loves art about the countryside, particularly paintings. Art is a bit of a mystery to her, she likes galleries and museums but also worries about uses of public money given the holes in the road after last winter, the closure of local schools and the poor rural bus service. Self-taught, her paintings are, in her words, “bloody awful” and she is looking for another way of doing art that connects with her interest in local history. For Beatrice, art at the moment is about trying to make the past come to life, to smell and taste what has gone, to have faith in the deeds of others, something she took from her many hours sat in a church whose values she no longer cares for.
Evening classes have provided Beatrice with a basic overview of modern art, which she finds alienating at times, but exciting too. Last month she began an evening class in family history and the possibility of now finding a way to create her own image of the past has become very important to her. Apparently it is OK to use pictures made by others to make something new, a concept she is not finding easy to understand but wants to try it out, reserving judgment until she has seen what it can do. Pleasure over guilt wins on this occasion, theft might be a good thing she thinks, well at least that is what her grandson tells her.
Recently, her personal recollections of trips to the town to see the Saturday cinema as a child, reminded her of how magical it all was, a special place in the dark, even the news clips were as wild as the adventures of the main feature. Films were, for her, the first opportunity to imagine the world differently. Beatrice very much enjoyed her life of quiet labour as a cleaner in a municipal archive that specialises in family and regional life but rarely was there time to look at all the wonderful resources that were at her finger-tips. She spends as much of her leisure time, when not reading about social history, either in the garden or in The Bookies – she does love her horses. Beatrice does not like crowds or even small groups; making art is her way to quietly connect with people without having the awkwardness of face-to-face social contact. Art, like jam-making and polite introductions, can be a sticky business. Working with the artist Kathryn Campbell-Dodd, has allowed Beatrice to feel like a different person.
Kathryn Campbell Dodd makes sculpture, assemblages, installations and 2
dimensional works using a variety of media. She borrows from both visual art and
craft practices in an inter-disciplinary approach to making and conceiving artworks.
The choice of materials and ready-made objects often look towards the ‘domestic’
but seek to open out the possibilities of this interpretation by altering, unsettling or
arresting their function.
Sera Wyn Walker/Bob Gelsthorpe
Our collaboration has stemmed from our shared interest in documentation. This documentation has taken different roles separately, whether it be the documenting of artist studios, or the portraiture of the landscape. Documentation has always played a key role in our practices and will take the forefront for our collaborative work for Rhod 201.
Bob Gelsthorpe. I research the idiosyncrasies of my studio practice, and the ‘studio’ itself, which has naturally filtered into my work from running a studio complex after graduating. There’s an allure to the environment itself, the working place, the thinktank, etc. The notion that the building that an artist inhabits can become their catalyst for creating work is a high interest and an honest investigation to understand the concept of ‘artist studio as artwork’. Graduating in Fine Art (Painting) from Cardiff School of Art & Design, there must be a visual response in my work, and from my curatorial tendencies, the choreography of the space and how that affects the response to the work is absolutely vital.
As my work has evolved, I feel that the politics of my production processes are being addressed, what does it mean to address ‘artist-led’ organisations, and beyond this, the ‘artist-led studio’, as an absolute champion model for creating and facilitating the creating of engaging contemporary art in Wales. Using cartographical diagrams, appropriated instruction videos and recently, the use of the spider plant as visual/conceptual metaphor for the importance, and necessity for artist-led activity not only to come from the artists, but also to germinate within an otherwise caustic political climate. Responding to such subjects, the work consists of subtle idiosyncrasies reflecting my thoughts as an Artist, making work in Wales such as the pink from a Welsh Art listing website, or the annotation of essays, that informs the relationship with my work as an active social and personal endeavour.
Sera Wyn Walker. Inspired by a longing for my rural home on the outskirts of Aberystwyth, my work is intrinsically biased towards my sense of place. My practice utilises cameraless photographic techniques similar to those used by Fox Talbot, the father of photography. Photosensitive portraits of the landscape are created through these methods and are then taken back to the studio, and fixed, which gives the work an archival stability. Creating work in this manner holds an ethereal quality created by the nature of the process itself. Themes of curiosity, preservation and concealment arise in the work and are a constant relationship that I channel through the exploration of natural forms
Gemma Green-Hope and George Manson/penny d jones and
The milltir sgwâr starts at the centre of our place, where we are, where we live – us and our immediate ‘home’; it gradually extends as we grow up to include further and further areas, down the street/ across the field. The joy of the milltir sgwâr is that it is walkable.
Working together, the group has developed their individual ideas and experiences of the square mile, and created a new square of their own where their ideas meet. Two of
them come from the south east of England and two from west Wales. They have used twitter to communicate and document their progress #DeallYLle.
Gemma Green-Hope‘s work is influenced by nature and narratives, human behaviour and the supernatural. She has explored the way we use the square mile to become familiar with our immediate surroundings, attempting to tame them and make them our own. Landmarks and plants take on human attributes; they become domesticated. In doing this we often forget their wildness and unpredictability, and the wildness within our own human nature. Gemma took pieces of plant life from within the square mile and transported them to her home where she contained, cared, nurtured and documented their growth, returning them for the exhibition.
penny d jones has worked with Rhôd since showing there in 2009. She has developed walking and journeying as an art practice through drawing and filmmaking. She is specifically interested in women’s journeys and made a film locally entitled Ladi’r Lafant in 2013. This work involves slowing down and being, where she is, here, not in London where she originates. Penny’s work has always been site responsive and this time she is using the natural resources to reflect the space, filling artists books with marks and drawings made from and by the immediate environment and displaying them within the square. A challenge in the collaboration is to draw birdsong.
George Manson‘s work is concerned with repetition, re-presentation, systems, the ordinary and everyday. George maintains a concept driven practice, in which the context of the work, as well as its positioning in contemporary discourses is explored.
For Rhôd, George has created a body of work comprising of proposals for potential artworks for the garden space, visual representations of them and typewriter drawings made in response to the site.
Sam Vicary has been working with ideas about the domestic garden space and using imagery of birds in her paintings to show that these spaces are often occupied by wildlife and never truly controlled or perfected by their inhabitants. This work is on show at Oriel Q, Narberth until 28 June. Sam has used this opportunity to continue the theme, erecting a feeding table within the square and capturing a new community of birds, birdsong and natural space within in her drawings. ‘Sam works intuitively and spontaneously, in an attempt to catch the perfect moment. Using colour as part of her narrative, Sam is challenging the nature of harmony.’ Rachel Busby, artist.
Despite this they were able to hold discussions that dealt with the urban/rural contrast of their childhood environments. Dealing with the complexities of modern day living and all of its trappings we place man-made objects into our natural environment, creating interactions. These may vary dependent of that environment but we found many similarities despite the urban/rural differences of our upbringing.
Although they were unable to complete this particular project they look forward to working together in the future.