The show, officially opened by former MP Kim Howells features work by Luke Barker, Louise Collins, James Donovan, Bert Evans, Valerie Ganz, Pam Jones, Barry Lewis, Heidi Mehta & Jackie Shackson.
The basis of many of Valerie Ganz’s exhibitions stem from her interest in the landscape of South Wales particularly the mining industry, and the lives of people. Over a period of many years, she worked at numerous different collieries including the Six Bells in Abertillery in the mid 80's where she painted miners as they worked, both above ground and at the coalface. Two of her pieces in this exhibition are mining themed watercolour and charcoal paintings completed just days prior to the opening of the show. Other pieces on display include pastel life drawings studies, jazz musicians in charcoal and etching aquatints of dancers at the Central School of Ballet in London.
James Donovan’s recent paintings are also inspired by the history of the South Wales valleys. They have been informed by his family history and the part that mining has played in its formation. The comical, communal and spiritual play their part and have their basis in childhood memories and conversations with the father figures in his life. These history lessons have led to a use of symbolism that forms metaphors for the passing of seasons and the importance of history in forming the present. There are fools’ hats, instruments from brass bands that used to parade through the streets at carnival time and scarves that represent rugby culture and the incessant wind that blows through the V of the valley. All have helped the artist to present a stoic, respectful and personal view of his own heritage.
As one of the winners in Y Galeri’s Open Art Competition in January, Caerphilly artist and newcomer to the art world, Luke Barker was invited to exhibit his work in this show. His bold and expressive small scale paintings in oil and spray paint received huge interest earlier this year especially his street scenes of Cardiff. In this show are rooftops of Cardiff and Bath plus several portraits.
Louise Collis is based in South Wales with the beautiful mountains and fantastic coastline on her door step. She is inspired by the changing colours, light and history of the landscape. Working on location she takes her sketchbook everywhere and can often be found sat on a hillside sketching or sat in her car with her paints on the dashboard if the weather is wet. Working in oils her palette is vibrant and her paintings spontaneous.
Port Talbot artist Bert Evans sees beauty is his everyday surroundings especially the industrial landscape of his home town. The best piece of advice he ever received was given to him by an eminent artist, who told him to ‘paint what you know, it’s the only way to tell the truth’. Much of his subject matter is from what he sees on a day to day basis resulting in simple scenes capturing everyday life. His inspiration always starts with light and its effect on colours and form.
The ceramics from recently graduated Pam Jones are an exploration of the humanity of being human, our relationship with the world and a modern psychology combined with elements of the historical and theatrical within the context of contemporary practice. One of her pieces in the show is inspired by Bernini the virtuoso sculptor of 17th Rome and dramatically evokes the mood of love, pain and anger.
After a hugely successful showing of his exhibition at Y Galeri last Summer, Tonypandy sculptor Barry Lewis returns with some of his smaller works created from upcycled materials. The Idea of recycling is central to his work and the resulting mixture of materials, their age, and the previous use of the objects incorporated in the sculptures, adds another dimension. This prolific sculptor’s work seems to grow in size and imagination.
Printmaker and textile artist Heidi Mehta is interested in how she can translate her work into alternative objects. She is always drawn towards presenting her work in different ways, through stitched books, altered books, decorated boxes or sculptural pieces. Works on display include Mezzotint and Chine Collè pieces from her recent residency, at the Milkwood Gallery in Cardiff, inspired by the Japanese rituals of tea making.
Cardiff Printmaker Jackie Shackson has been exploring the question of Welsh identity through a study of Welsh art, folklore, superstition and tradition and her recent work is inspired by the history of quilt making. Her prints are from collagraph plates made from recycled materials, foil and tape that are cut and stitched to create abstract patterns resembling fragments of old quilts. Each print is finished in a different way with Chine Collé or with further embellishment resulting in unique monoprints.
Y Galeri will be holding several informal Meet the Artist events giving visitors the opportunity to find out more about the artists’ work. These free drop in events will be held throughout the exhibition and are suitable for groups or individuals. For more information contact Y Galeri at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also on display alongside this exhibition is a profile of work by Carmarthen ceramicist Kirsty Prior. Her interest lies in the making of figurative ceramics, with a particular focus on wild animals. The main themes of her work are decay and rejuvenation, whilst trying to capture some of the movement, energy, life, character and essence of the creature. She mostly fires greenware pieces in a single primitive firing which means that despite using a robust clay many pieces are broken through this process. This she feels adds to the effect of the fragility of the low firing and the overall concept behind the work.
Both exhibitions run until 30th March. Y Galeri is open 10am -5pm Tuesday – Saturday. Admission is free.