Category Archives: Art

F.E.A.R. by Mr & Mrs Clark, a review by Helen Joy

F.E.A.R.

An autobiographical tour of the constructed fear that society, religion and family place onto young shoulders.

Mr & Mrs Clark

There is someone in front of me who is bored, who doesn’t like it. There is much loud huffing and shrugging. But as far as I can tell, everyone else is in thrall to this captivating performance. Most of us are about the same age as Mr Clark and he is describing us. To a tee.

These are our fears too. Nostalgia and angst. Nuclear war and homemade bunkers. Overhead cables and safety belts. Clunk click. Superman y-fronts and God.

Being watched, getting a proper job, having sex, getting AIDS, getting a girl pregnant, not having children, having a mortgage, taking drugs and dancing. Hair, too much in the ears, too little on the head. Farting. Weeing. Keeping it in. Keeping it up.

God, this is so uncomfortable, so perfectly awkward as we confront the identities of our public information inspired youth and our middle age of worry.

It is inclusive – we want to bop about with him on his dance floor, we don’t want to admit to being the 1 in 3 who voted to keep immigrants out, we want to relax into our group hug. We remember terrorism then and now, we remember war, then and now. Why would you want to join the army? Get a proper job. Put your hand up if you have taken an AIDS test.

We all hide in our masks – our crocodile facade, we feel responsible for everything bad in the world and wonder constantly how we are still here, how we didn’t catch diseases from loo seats and get run over by trains. But we are being watched by God, by Jesus, by cameras, by the internet. Brilliant.

This is brilliant. It is funny, challenging, difficult, joyous, hard viewing. Mr C’s eye contact is hard to return. We feel guilty, the collective conscience of the ‘70s.

FEAR. And the really clever bit is its accessibility. Signed and spoken as part of the production, not something outside of it. This is most properly inclusive and even better for it.

Maybe we have learned something after all. It is these children who became the adults who changed our social makeup, who challenged the divisions between sexuality and race and class and ability, who invited everyone to join in, who broke the boundaries we inherited.

Perhaps FEAR is not always such a bad thing. I wonder what that man in front of me was really feeling.

 

4 stars

 

Project Details

Directed by: Agnieszka Blonska Performed by Gareth Clarkcroc

 

Criw Celf A2:Connect working with artes mundi, Bedwyr Williams and Gareth Clark

Earlier this year our director Guy O’Donnell met with  Tom Goddard, Project Producer at Criw Celf, A2:Connect to discuss their work.  Criw Celf is is a visual arts project for ‘More Able & Talented’ young artists at secondary school. Tom discussed the current Criw Celf project which is linked to artes mundi. Tom had invited Welsh Artist Bedwyr Williams to work with the young people and they were also able to take a tour of Artes Mundi as well as taking part in workshops to produce art work of their own. This article gives us an update of their progress. The original article can be found at the link below.

An interview with Tom Goddard Project Producer at Criw Celf, A2:Connect

“Hi Tom, would it be possible to give our readers some information on what happened during the recent workshop at NMW?”

“Yes, it went really well thanks! Each of the group have now embarked on their own self initiated project. Through working and getting to know Bedwyr each of them began to consider a position or a problem that they wanted to tackle, investigate or even solve through the creative process. It all sounds a bit over the top when put like that when really it’s about refocussing on them as individuals instead of being given a theme that’s been thrown at groups of young people for over 20 years.”

“What came out of this process was questions, questions about why things are the way they are as well as what they are passionate about; whether those things are absurd, annoying or interesting.”

Criw Celf members feedback

The workshop opened my eyes to the many different ideas of art, the January workshop I thoroughly enjoyed although it was slightly less independent than the February one. This is why this time I preferred it because it was a more hands on experience, as we developed our ideas and played on what we thought they could be presented as we each decided and are going to show them in an exhibition.”

Amber

“It was good fun, met some new people, look forward to carrying on with future activities, interesting people in the class.”

Llyr

“I thoroughly enjoyed the workshops this week as we experimented with a range of different materials and techniques. I tried pinhole photography for the first time which was interesting and an experience.”

Rubi

“In February they’ll be working with two artists with questioning at the heart of their practices, Tiffany Oben and Lisa Saunders. The workshops at Llanover Hall will continue to focus on creating a studio environment where the self led work is supported through the sharing and discussion of context, specific artists, influences and relevant thoughts, people and theory.

During the three February half term workshops they will complete their tour of Artes Mundi seeing the work of Nastio Mosquito and Lamia Joreige at Chapter and they’ll all be learning how to make, take and develop pinhole photographs inspired by Lamia Joreige’s work. On the final day we’ll be going to a workshop led by Mr & Mrs Clark in Chapter’s Theatre then seeing a performance of their one man show F.E.A.R. I saw it last year at Experimentica and was struck by its honesty and power after meeting and getting to know the group I felt it would be exciting for them to see something this bold.”

Criw Celf participating in a workshop with Gareth Clark from Mr & Mrs Clark at Chapter Arts Centre.

“What plans are there for the development of the project.”

“In March once the project work is nearing completion and even while some of it is still very much in progress!, Criw Celf will be working with a curator and a technician to design, build and curate their own exhibition in the centre of town. The idea is that Criw Celf will learn how to do it themselves, the groups average age is 15 so I think it’s really important to demystify all this stuff early on, to get hands on and to have a go yourself. All of these adults might work really hard but none of them do something these young people couldn’t do, if they put their minds to it and I’d like to think that Criw Celf would probably do it better too. I’ve been lucky enough to have the support of Cardiff Council and that’s meant I have been able to secure a building to house the exhibition for the whole of the month of March so if you’re in town do pop in and check out the exhibition.”

Criw Celf Exhibition opening – 2.30pm on Sat 4 March
Venue: 11 High Street, Cardiff City Centre

Exhibition open
Thurs, Fri & Sat throughout March 12 – 4pm
9, 10, 11, 16, 17, 18, 23, 24, 25, 30, 31 March

 

An interview with Rachel Pedley-Miller, founding director of Avant Cymru

Rachel Pedley-Miller

The Director of Get the Chance Guy O’Donnell recently got the chance to chat to Rachel Pedley-Miller, founding director of Avant Cymru. Rachel discussed her career to date, Blue Scar Avants latest work in development, the support she has received from Angela Gould/RCT Theatres and the importance of working with local communities in all aspects of her professional practice.

Hi Rachel great to meet you, can you give our readers some background information on yourself please?

I started dancing aged 2, my Mam had learned to dance in the Ponty YMCA with Pat and Heather Rees and she wanted me to learn to dance as well. I loved every dance class and by my teens I was training 6 days a week in various styles and had started drama and music lessons. There were also various community arts opportunities I could join in with to keep developing my understanding. I had amazing teachers who trained me to teach, which meant I could afford to do extra classes, through gaining work at the dance studios.

I was really lucky to start training under Maggie Patterson through the Pineapple Performing Arts Troup. Maggie created opportunities for me and the rest of our crew to gain professional work opportunities while training, we danced for TV, Film, theatre and live events. It was here that I started training with Jimmy Williams (lockin’ dancer) and Kate Prince (of Zoonation) who started my introduction to Hip Hop Dance.

It was great to grow up in the dance community, it taught me the importance of sharing experiences, giving back and that you can always continue to learn, not only because there so are many dance styles to learn, but also because these styles have come from diverse communities and learning about the history behind the techniques is just as important as performing the moves themselves.

You are one of the directors of AVANT Cymru and support a lots go great community arts activity in the Valleys, could you tell us more about this work?

During the school holidays I spent a lot of time with my grandparents. My grandfather is very community minded, he was part of ‘Cor Meibion Male Voice Choir’ (who sing at community events all over Wales and beyond, including the  Principality Stadium before internationals!) He also looked after the community, shopping for the elderly and doing carpentry work for others as favours to friends. His community ethics have played an important part in my desire to come home to the Rhondda. It has created a desire to make work with a community who create opportunities for themselves and who love to celebrate culture.

Avant was founded at the end of 2014 when I had moved back home to the Rhondda and had started to go to networking opportunities around Wales. At these networking meetings (such as NTW TEAM workout, Ponty’ Arts meetings, Sherman JMK training opportunities, Equity Branch meeting, What’s Next Valleys meetings to name a few) I met likeminded artists such as Alan and Darius (co-directors) who wanted to create high quality, relevant and imaginative work.

Killer Cells

Our work includes ‘Over By Here’, ‘Killer Cells’ and now ‘Blue Scar’. In all Avant’s  work we create opportunities for either our students from our weekly classes or for the community to shape the shows. We firmly believe in going out into the community to hear what is relevant and working with the community to develop art that is wanted and needed. Even though we are theatre makers, this means that we have also collaborated with other art styles. For example visual artists such as Claire Louise Prosser, on projects such as the Bus Stops in Tonyrefail. When researching for Over By Here we found out that the public wanted the beaten up bus stops to be more colourful, Claire came on board and led project Bus Stops which led to one teenager commenting “Thank you for doing this, the bus stops show that people care and it makes me feel safer in town”.

Artist Claire Louise Prosser

We are also about to undertake a film project with Gary Lewis called ‘Land of Our Fathers’ for the Age Cymru Gwanwyn Festival. We have chosen the media of film as the residents of the care home we will be working with may not be able to access live performances, by creating a film this can be played back to them in their care situation.

Avant are a forward thinking theatre company who have plans to create versatile work in the Rhondda and perform this work locally, nationally and internationally, to celebrate the Rhondda and its people in all sorts of creative ways. We are really excited to be working with RCT Theatres on a number of these projects.

More recently you have been working towards a sharing of a production called Blue Scar, I believe this production involves Urban Art Forms is that correct?

Blue Scar is a Hip Hop inspired project. We were asked to research and develop a hip hop dance project with RCT Theatres and Creu Cymru’s  welsh dance consortium. Our first plan of action was to speak to the community. We were inspired by the history of ‘Lockin’, which was created by young people at the end of the 1970’s early 1980’s watching cartoons such as the Loony Toons and recreating the actions that the cartoon characters performed. The style of dance is very animated with big facial expressions and poses. So we wanted to know what young people in the late 1970s/early 80’s were doing in the Rhondda to make Welsh hip hop.

We visited audiences at the Park and Dare and Coliseum before the Pantomime, we went to the local libraries and we spoke to people on Rhondda Facebook groups. The answer that came back was that the children liked to play up the mountain, occasionally some of these games resulted in cuts and bruises and because of the coal dust they often resulted in blue scars.

Blue scars became a point of discussion, miners had them from their work down the mines, but they were also a mark of the area. People spoke proudly of the time they earned their blue scar, from falling off their Gambo (go cart) or from playing kiss chase on the tip. These stories became our inspiration.

We then set out to speak to students in our regular classes and at Treorchy Comp who hadn’t heard of blue scars and wanted to help us make the show relevant to their generation. So as part of the R&D we worked with the young people and involved them  to lead the narrative, asking them how they share stories at home. Niamh performed with us on the night of the R&D, her character learns of how her mother gained her blue scar playing up the mountains. Niamh’s grandmother came to watch the show, which prompted her to tell Niamh tales from when she was young, and how she too used to play up the mountain.

Blue Scar, shaped by the community became a cross generational project because of the narrative, which made it vital for us to work with the right artists. To really create a Welsh hip hop piece we wanted to blend traditional welsh music and dance with hip hop styles. We did a call out for artists and we began to develop ideas.

Angharad Jenkins and Dean Yhnell working on Blue Scar

James Humphreys created a script based on the comments from the community, Gary Lewis created a film showcasing Avant’s students participation. Dean Yhnell from BeatTechnique got in contact; he had previously worked with musician Angharad Jenkins on the 10 minute musical project produced by Leeway Productions.

The Blue Scar Dancers

They were keen to work together again, working with Darius they created the tracks and Bethan England came in to sing. Tommy Boost, Ahmed Zada and myself were able to bring three different hip hop techniques breakin, lockin and poppin and then we were lucky to bring in BBoy Slammo and Patrick Thomas. BBoy Slammo has been teaching breakin in the Rhondda for over a decade and Patrick is a member of his crew, having these two bboys on board has been vital to showcase the legacy of hip hops dance community that already exists in the Rhondda. Bboy Slammo is an internationally known breaker who is one of the founding organiser for Breakin’  the Bay at the WMC.

Blue Scar

The whole team were able to bring different elements to the project and inspired by the communities ideas we got to work, creating a Welsh hip hop dance piece.

Angela Gould, (Theatre Programme and Audience Development Manager RCT) and the RCT Theatres staff have been strong supporters of your career, why is the support of someone like Angela important?

Angela Gould has created the #CreativeHub at the Park and Dare, which is creative space for companies to produce new work. The Park and Dare staff are the most amazing team an artist could wish for. The tech team provide staging and tech, they bend over backwards to make sure we have everything required to provide the best audience experience possible. The venue team are amazing, Tom helps to get in place translations and timetables so everything is accessible and the team help produce programmes and marketing so we can facilitate the community outreach. Angela is incredible, she is there from the start to discuss ideas, then bends over backwards to mentor and challenge us. She takes the time to listen to audiences and know our community, we are so grateful to Angela and RCT theatres for their support. We firmly believe in collaboration and the #CreativeHub has been an amazing place for Avant to grow and develop. We are looking forward to producing Killer Cells over the summer and developing Blue Scar into a production for next year together with RCT Theatres.

Get the Chance works to support a diverse range of members of the public to access cultural provision. Are you aware of any barriers to equality and diversity for either Welsh or Wales based artists? 

We love to invite Get the Chance to all stages of our work, we are aware of the fantastic work they are doing promoting theatre and culture in Wales, demonstrating that there is a variety of cultural experience that appeals to diverse audiences. We know the reviewers have the opportunity to see a range of work and are informed on current theatre practices, so their reviews help shape future developments. For example Get the Chance critic Gemma Treharne-Foose came to watch the small production of Killer Cells, we had been working on the characters and story and her feedback confirmed to us that the digital aspect needed investment. So for the 2017 tour we have acted on this feedback and we are investing in the digital aspect of the story.

REVIEW: ‘KILLER CELLS’ BY GEMMA TREHARNE-FOOSE

We have found that fear is a barrier for new audiences because the unknown can make people anxious. By inviting Get the Chance in the stages of development and by sharing our ideas and plans we are able to inform new audiences, so they are guided and have an idea of what to expect when they attend a show. Get the Chance is breaking down these fears and bringing new audiences to the theatre.

Many thanks Rachel. If you were able to fund an area of the arts in Wales what would this be and why?

This is a difficult question as I would like to see more spending in the arts all over, I believe arts and participation is good for health, wellbeing education and regeneration. I would like to see more funding going into buildings such as the Park and Dare. They have already started work on improving the building, which includes new carpets, paint in the foyer and the lift is being rebuilt, however further funding is still needed to help complete the other jobs the team have planned.

http://www.rct-arts.co.uk

I’d love to see money put into a collaborative CPD programme. In dance, for example we have fantastic dance teachers and studios, but it would be amazing to have collaborative spaces such as Pineapple or Broadway Dance Studios in Wales, where the public can access dance and professionals can access the training needed 7 days a week and during the day time. It is important to create new training opportunities in Wales, so we can continue to learn and develop.

What excites you about the arts in Wales? What was the last really great thing that you experienced that you would like to share with our readers? 

I truly believe that Wales is an exciting country for the arts. There are so many cultural opportunities and emerging companies and individuals who are being shaped by established and experienced venues and organisations. There are networking opportunities, training performances and jobs it is evident that the people of Wales, want to make cultural experiences happen in a variety of places and in a variety of ways. From engaging in local opportunities in the Rhondda, taking part in Age Cymru’s Gwanwyn Festival, being a Sherman 5 member at the Paul Hamlyn Funded project at Sherman Theatre and by being a TEAM panel member for National Theatre Wales. I have personally found that no matter who you are there is a cultural opportunity for you. It is hard to name one event because the variety of experiences is exciting. I know that I am looking forward to seeing ‘Hard As Nails’ at the Park and Dare and ‘Killology’ at the Sherman, I have my tickets booked for both!

I am really proud to say that Avant are part of the Welsh art community, creating work in the Rhondda, with fantastic partners in RCT Theatres, at the Park and Dare and traveling to exciting venues such as the Sherman, the Willow Globe and Volcano later this year.

 

An Interview with scriptwriter David Lloyd

“Hey everybody, my name is David Lloyd and as much as I hate to blow my own trumpet, Im going to be like Marvin Gay and tell you my life story. You see, I’m 22 years old and I am currently attending my third year of BA Hons Scriptwriting at the University of South Wales based in Cardiff. From my past writing experience I find myself drawn more specifically to psychological dramas, but I do try to widen my genre field. Admittedly, I would jump higher than a grass hopper on a pogo stick at any opportunities, but I do prefer writing for film and television where I find myself working on amateur short films with the master film production students.”

“Since I was a child (where others say I still am!) I have held a passion for creative writing, but it wasn’t until I had performed in my first self-written theatre play where I knew which career path I intended to pursue. The performance, title ‘The Mask of Eldernon’ was a psychological drama based upon a mass murderer who suffered from a split personality disorder where the protagonist was both the victim and the culprit. It was performed by myself and four of my peers as part of our course at the Royal National College for the Blind (RNC) in Hereford.”

http://www.rnc.ac.uk

“Oh… perhaps this would be a good time to mention how I am in fact visually impaired- it’s funny how some things slip your mind. Anyway, the diagnosis for my sight loss is a condition called Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) and I have a detached retina which was caused from fluid seeping in beneath my eye. From six months of age. I also have an extremely rare metabolic disorder called LCHAD where my liver is unable to process fatty acids so I must stick to a three gram diet and I sustain my energy from an overnight feed. In result of this condition I have problems with my muscles and my energy levels and it attacks the nerves in my hands, feet and eyes which is what caused the site loss, but enough about the reason that would make me the perfect Olympic athlete, let us return to the topic of RNC.”

“Being a college which specialises in visual impairment, the purpose of me attending was mainly to be taught independence and mobility skills. As well as this, in the two years I attended I managed to obtain a Level 3 Diploma in Performing Arts, a single award in Brail and a C in re-sitting my A Level English Literature. I feel  my biggest achievement was the confidence I had built with the help from my friends. Being amongst other people who had gone through the same experiences and had tackled the same difficulties as I have has really opened my eyes. The whole experience has change my life completely and inspired me to chase my dreams and overcome any obstacles that stand in my way… except from a Rubiks cube, those things are very hard!”

“Speaking of difficulties, despite the little deterioration that I already had, I have lost a significant amount of site in my right eye during my A Levels and couldn’t see how I was going to cope, especially when I was studying art and design, but I suppose If Van Gogh was able to paint with one ear missing then surely I could do it with one eye… yeah? you see what I did there? One ear, one eye- oh forget it. Anyway, this sudden site loss meant that I had to apply drastic changes to my work method, like studying films in class, but having to wait until I went home to hear the audio description, reading out of large print text books and perhaps the cruelest… sitting in the front row to see the board. The changes in my artistic techniques however, did allow me to stumble upon a hidden talent of drawing surrealistic images derived from my imagination with the smudging of compressed chalk.

Now for those who don’t know, compressed chalk can get extremely messy and stick to pretty much anything it comes into contact with, so you can imagine the site of it being used by a visually impaired student and then going home to a recently cleaned house… to a recently cleaned house with white walls… a recently cleaned house with white walls and an angry mother following the fingerprints… well you get the idea. So despite the change in methods, the giant printed books and the cloak covered fingerprints, I was able to obtain my Alevels in English Literature, Art and Media Studies, I had been accepted into RNC and I didn’t even have to bribe anyone either, which is always a plus.”

“Which then ledd me to the most scariest three letters I thought I’d never meet: U… N… I (which is just an abbreviation for the ten letter word, but this sounds cooler). I remember when I first started and feeling so scared of joining a new university in a city I wasn’t familiar with, but I kept thinking to myself ‘I just need to bite my tongue, hold my breath and jump into any opportunity that comes my way’ … but then naturally start breathing normally otherwise I wont be there for long. I understand how this may seem easier said than done, but with the support of the lecturers and my fellow peers and the provided equipment university became a life changing experience. Admittedly it was difficult adjusting to uni life what with the independence required for maintaining my condition, the continuity of eating and finding a healthy balance between work and social activity, but reflecting on it now makes me realise how these difficulties and mistake I had made have helped me become a better person and do you want to know what else… I wouldn’t have changed it for the world.”

 

Review: Babulus, Gwyn Emberton and ilDance by Helen Joy

Babulus

4 Stars

Tower of Babel, says a friend next to me.

 Communication, that’s what it’s about, she says, all the different ways of communicating.

 I’m not sure about the bear, I find the bear creepy. Oh, she says, I like the bear.

Did you like the dance as a whole? Oh yes, mesmerising. I like going to things with you, I see things I wouldn’t otherwise see.

I see things I wouldn’t otherwise see. This is one of them for me too.

 

I was facilitating art classes last week with older people in hospitals and care homes and one of them, Brian, was unable to speak or hear. Don’t worry, the nurse said, he will make you understand him. And he did. Brian painted flowers, big colourful flowers. We chatted with our hands, our faces and our paint. We did not need to use our voices. It was a dance between two people.

Babulus is a dance between five people, one of whom is a bear now and again. A bizarre, fluffy, comedic yet sentient and sympathetic character to foil the darker elements of tied hands and closed mouths. I still found it creepy. The clown in the classroom, the slapstick to the poignant. I realise that this is just me – everyone else loved the softer element, the balance, the reference to a childhood toy. I still have my Bear, he sleeps with me still and he is my most valuable possession so I do get it, I get the thinking, I just don’t like it until I watch her loose a dancer’s bonds, quietly, softly.

But the dance itself? Oh it is superb. The dancers come together, push apart, come together, push apart using movement, chatter, language, sticky tape, song and light. They are beautifully choreographed, they are beautifully lit. It is mesmerising. There are two themes I particularly like: the holding of hands over each other’s mouths; and the bunching together babbling in their mother tongues. I like that they emerge from behind us, that they make eye contact with us, that they threaten us and engage with us. They laugh with us too.

It is the dance between two people, one with his hand over her mouth with her twisting away to speak, that I will remember most – they roll into and over each other in a balletic, deceptive, controlling, power struggle. I wish I could see this again and again. It called to me.

It is also one of the best after show discussions I have ever attended. The performers, dancers, are as engaging vocally as they have been throughout their piece. Clever, open, responsive to their audience, they are indeed communicating at all levels. Not babbling at all, really.

 

Event:                   Bablulus

Seen:                    1930, 17th February, 2017

Reviewer:            Helen Joy for 3rd Act Critics

Running:               Friday 17 February – Saturday 18 February

Cost :                    Tickets: £12/£10; Age 11+

Running time: approx. 50mins  

Links:     http://www.chapter.org/babulus

Production:         Gwyn Emberton and ilDance collaboration

Music:                  Oscar Collin

Lighting and design:         Joe Fletcher

Direction:            Sara Lloyd

Babulus was created and toured with the support of Arts Council Wales, Gothenburg International Theatre and Dance Festival, The Work Room, Wales Arts International, Göteborg Stad, Västra Götalandsregionen, NDCWales, Ballet Cymru, Balettakademien Stockholm, Konstnärsnämnden, and Arts Promotion Centre Finland.

An interview with Tom Goddard Project Producer at Criw Celf, A2:Connect

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 Criw Celf workshops 2016

Hi Tom – great to meet you, can you give our readers some background information on yourself please?

I’m a visual artist mainly working in film and performance. I like to work with people and my projects have included customised football wall charts, an odyssey across Wales, an archive to a lake monster, a journey into neolithic welsh life. I have recently had my films shown in Buenos Aires, Argentina and at the Whitechapel Gallery, London.

I position my work on the line between truth and fiction, considering how public anxieties have intensified within the axis of the modern world through an obsessive repetition of endless facts, where choices are seemingly endless.

I am an advocate for education and best practice in the arts as well as for the role of the artist in the 21st century.

You work for Arts Active Trust promoting arts activity for schools and communities in the central south region. Can you please give me more information on this and your work?

The Arts Active Trust is a charity that seeks to engage people of all ages with creative activities through working directly with artists and professional practitioners who can inspire and guide their development. A key part of the Arts Active programme is A2:Connect which is the Arts & Education network for the Central South region working to bring artists of all disciplines – music, drama, visual arts, literature etc. directly into our schools. In association with A2:Connect, Criw Celf Cardiff is a visual arts project for ‘More Able & Talented’ young artists at secondary school.

Then more specifically you are Project Producer at Criw Celf, what does your role entail?

I work one day a week managing the Criw Celf Cardiff programme of workshops and courses so I get to work with a wide range of visual artists, educators and arts professionals. I work directly with art teachers in secondary schools across Cardiff about how they can be involved in the scheme.

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 Criw Celf workshops 2016

In January 2017 I believe you will be supporting young people described as gifted and talented to Discover Artes Mundi 7, with nominated artist Bedwyr Williams. This sounds very exciting what will take place during these workshops and how do people get involved?

We’re very lucky to have Bedwyr coming down to Cardiff. He’s had a great year showing at the Barbican, Somerset House and being nominated for Artes Mundi 7. I’ve invited him because he is an inspiring Welsh artist who, through his work explores and asks questions about the world from different perspectives. The young people will be able to take a tour of Artes Mundi as well as taking part in workshops to produce art work of their own.

janpostereng

You have a great deal of experience in the Visual Arts in Wales  Do you think the Visual Arts as a form still resonate for young people?

We live in a world more saturated with visual imagery than ever before. There is a media environment both on and off line that is telling young people what to look like, what to desire and what to care about. Visual arts in all of its forms, whether its film, sculpture or painting, offers a way to understand how to look, contextualise, empathise and learn tolerance in order to think about the kind of world you want to live in and create.

Learning is an active process and sensory input is something we construct a meaning out of, we then construct meanings and systems of meaning. It’s about curiosity, open-mindedness and understanding that not everything in a gallery or in a theatre is for you and if there isn’t anything that speaks to you, feeling empowered to do it yourself.

In the visual arts young people can go on intellectual adventures or get lost in the beauty or ugliness of something, in turn discovering new things and things about themselves.

yaf-visit

Young Art Force

Get the Chance works to support a diverse range of members of the public to access cultural provision. Are you aware of any barriers to equality and diversity for either Welsh or Wales based artists? 

There are many barriers both social and physical that exist for young people from lower income families which prevent them from engaging with arts and culture. One of the barriers I feel we can tackle easily is the language used to describe arts and culture which often can prohibit and distance families as well as being irrelevant to today’s young people.

black-kettle-collective-performing-protest-song

 Black Kettle Collective performing Protest Song

If you were able to fund an area of the arts in Wales what would this be and why?

I think I would do away with areas of the arts and instead concentrate on funding strong and transformational projects. Many of the projects would be cross disciplinary so creativity is supported rather than discriminating between artistic forms.

yaf

 Young Art Force

What excites you about the arts in Wales? What was the last really great thing that you experienced that you would like to share with our readers? 

What excites me is cross disciplinary partnerships and collaboration. Genuine connections with a range of people from all sorts of different backgrounds. An openness to change and link Cardiff and Wales with other international cities rather than always comparing ourselves to other cities in the UK.

I enjoyed Artes Mundi this year – Bedwyr Williams’s Ty Mawr and John Akomfrah at Artes Mundi were strong stand out films for me.

As part of a partnership between Chapter and Artes Mundi I saw The Stuart Hall Project, Akomfrah’s film documenting the life of cultural theorist Stuart Hall who is one of my heroes. Hall was integral to exploring social change in Britain and I’ve often thought of him being the voice of God. Ever changing and always thinking, flexible and rational.

Another standout was S Mark Gubb ‘Revelations: The Poison of Free Thought, Part II’ and Mike Kelley’s ‘Mobile Homestead’ supported by Artangel at g39 and Cardiff Contemporary.

I went to the reopening of Glynn Vivian Art Gallery in Swansea which includes film work by Lindsey Seers and an exhibition related to Richard Glynn Vivian a Victorian traveller whose collection of over 12,000 works was gifted to the city of Swansea. I’m particularly interested in the story of early European porcelain and the Gallery has examples from the Meissen factory by sculptors Kaendler and Kircher which i normally travel to the V&A in London to see. There’s also Leonardo da Vinci, Turner, Picasso etc…Worth a visit!

Thanks for your time Tom.

Link below to further information on Criw Celf Cardiff – New Year Art Course

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/new-year-art-course-criw-celf-cardiff-tickets-29643221674

 

 

 

Gala Night, National Dance Company Wales

 

How lovely to dress up for a night out! Even lovelier to be asked to attend something as special as this: a Christmas Fundraising Gala for the National Dance Company Wales!

Guided into the dark, starry-lit heart of the school, its stage, we are invited to mingle before sitting at beautifully festive tables to watch the show. We are at the front of the stage, level with our hosts and muddled up with dancers, board members, sponsors, families and friends. It is delightful. It is the entirely predictable warm welcome from this Company which we all value so highly.

Now, this is a night with a purpose. A showcase of dancing wares to one end – to raise awareness and support for the dancers, their Company, their outreach work and their hopes and aspirations for themselves and others.

And so it begins.

Marc (Rees) compered the evening in tremendous style and humour. Caroline (Finn) and Paul (Kaynes) are  practised and fluent with the passion for their business they so want us to share. They say,

We have a responsibility to take dance across Wales, so as many people as                                    possible can experience what it is to dance.

They choose tonight to share with us –

The invisible work that we do, the beautiful and valuable work that we do.

They want to sustain and develop this work, react to people’s needs, make a difference and look after their dancers, keep them well for the hard work they do – and we get it.

We are shown videos, evidence of NDCW dancers working with children, adults, people living with Parkinsons –

I know it’s cheesy but dancing makes me happy.

Is there a finer accolade? One line tells us all we need to know. What these remarkable, dedicated people do benefits young and old alike. Speaking of young, we are now given a performance – This is a Really Difficult Interview, created by Karol Cysewski and performed by the NDCWales Associates.

It is 13 minutes of difficult and complex dance performed perfectly by a large group, aged between 14 and 19. It is not hard to see that nurturing the future talent in dance is worthy for many reasons but what is surprising, is that they demonstrate their professionalism and ability so comfortably.

I hadn’t expected anything so wonderful. I don’t know what to say. It’s so emotional

 – says someone next to me, clearly struggling with her responses.

It’s very competitive, says another, it’s very hard to get in, you know.                                                     Not enough boys, it’s harder for the girls. They are good, aren’t they?

Now, to make a difference, you can’t just tell people about things, you have to make them experience them too. And blow me, Lee (Johnson) has us all on our feet… some braver than others and on the stage while the rest of us toe tap around our chairs! What a hoot!

How clear it becomes that in dance there is activity, laughter, companionship and effort. A simple coordinated routine and we all feel on top of the world – and we all sit back down, renewed and ready to listen.

We are also here to learn about new projects. Andrew (Miller) and Marc (Rees) tell us about R17 and P.A.R.A.D.E. :

An immersive and radical reimagining of Ballets Russes’s 1917 Parade,

And it is to be a participative and flamboyant dance event through the streets of Cardiff to the stage of the Wales Millennium Centre to the glorious cacophony of Satie’s music. There will be Dr. Who, there will be Revolution at the Senedd, there will be oranges thrown.

This is a major collaboration between NDCW, WNO, WMC and the RCMD which marks the centenary of the Russian Revolution. Tickets are on sale now at https://www.wmc.org.uk/Productions/2017-2018/DonaldGordonTheatre/Parade/

Lastly, before the Christmas carousing closes the evening, we are treated to Animatorium. Ok, so I am biased. I saw this in rehearsal and on the pavement outside. I feel the inner thrill of recognition and anticipation. I am excited to see this again. I do not expect the reactions around me:

Ooh, I’ve gone all goose-pimply, says one, rubbing her arms and wiping an eye.

Cheesy, goose-pimply – this work is incredible; the work these dancers and their team do is incredible. Do not take my word for it – please go and see them, learn to dance with them, help them continue what they do best –and let them develop their influence, making people happy.

They do all this through public funding, supporters, sponsors and ticket sales; but you can help too:

In the New Year, NDCW will be launching LIFT, a new supporter scheme. Information will be available at  http://www.ndcwales.co.uk/en/about/support-us/our-current-supporters/ where other means of donating are available as well.

In the meantime, please get yourself a ticket. You won’t regret it.

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gala

Caroline Finn – Artistic Director

Paul Kaynes – Chief Executive

Lee Johnston – Rehearsal Director

Andrew Miller – Executive producer of R17

Marc Rees – Director and Curator of Contemporary Performance and Installation

 

Reviewed, Saturday, 2nd December, 2016

An Interview with Artist Emily Jones

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Illustration for The Emperor’s New Clothes

 Sherman Theatre and Theatr Iolo

All artwork copyright Emily Jones

Our project coordinator recently spoke to Cardiff based artist Emily Jones about her career to date and plans for the future.

Hi Emily great to meet you, can you give our readers some background information on yourself please?

12742821_1750981951798560_632608210184773208_nHello, I grew up in Tyneside but I’ve lived in Cardiff for ten years now. I studied illustration for children’s books at art college and that’s the branch of illustration I’m really passionate about. Although, I do enjoy drawing cartoons of Donald Trump and other political figures that I find ludicrous! Being an illustrator isn’t my full time job as I prefer the balance of being able to draw and paint when I want, without the worry or pressure of relying on it for an income.

So what got you interested in Illustration?

I had two lovely teachers in primary school and they encouraged me to draw. They made me realise that you could draw pictures for a living. I loved picture books in particular and I had my favourite illustrators who I aspired to be like. I think I’ve always been fascinated with images and how someone has created them.

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How has your career as an illustrator developed?

A few years ago, I began renting out an art studio so I had the space to work in a more professional manner rather than just working at home in front of the TV. This really changed things and along with posting my work on social media, I have slowly but surely become busier and better.

Your personalised pet portraits are particularly popular with your work appearing in 1000 Dog Portraits by Rockport Publishers? Can you tell our readers how you got involved in pet portraits? Do you have a favourite animal to illustrate?

I painted my partner’s dog Scooby and it all started from there. I showed the painting to a few people and before long I was being asked to paint their cat or dog. I think painting pets is a great way for any artist to get commissioned as it’s artwork that is really accessible for people to buy. I love painting all sorts of animal but the more animated the creature is, the more fun I find it to be.

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 Over the last two years you have been commissioned by The Sherman Theatre to produce images for the seasonal productions The Princess and The Pea and this year The Emperor’s New Clothes. Can you tell us how you approach illustrating such popular classics for the stage?

Well I begin by doing a lot of research on how other artists have illustrated the stories. I then do my best to create an image which is completely original as well as instantly recognisable. The images have to grab attention of both children and adults and hopefully it will make people want to see the show. I’ve loved illustrating these particular stories as they’ve both been so playful and silly.

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Do you have any illustrators or artists that inspire you?

There are tons! Quentin Blake has always been there as a favourite, as has Edward Gorey. They are experts at depicting characters with seemingly simple pen lines. Shaun Tan’s work is incredible and I wish I had a fraction of his talent! I love Júlia Sardà, David Roberts, Isabelle Arsenault, David Litchfield, Michael Sowa, Mateo Dineen, Rebecca Dautremer. They are a just a few! I study their work and try to figure out how they do what they do. They make me feel totally inferior but at the same time, inspire me and enthuse me to create my next best piece; which is definitely a good thing.

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If any of our readers are aspiring illustrators what advice could you offer them?

Draw as often as possible. It seems obvious but you have to practice. Drawing from life is a brilliant way to improve your skills and develop your style. Having a recognisable style is important and it’s something I haven’t mastered yet. But the more work I do, the more I learn and develop. I just wish there was more time in the day to draw!

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We believe you are currently working on your first children’s picture book, sounds exciting, can you tell us more?

I’ve almost finished the artwork for a lovely writer, Victoria Richards. She commissioned me an embarrassingly long time ago but the end is now in sight. We don’t have a publisher yet but we’re hopeful of finding one. It’s a great, magical story and the artwork is some of my best. We’ll definitely get it out in the public domain somehow.

What do you have planned for the future?

I’ll continue taking on commissions as and when I get them and I’m going to start illustrating my own stories to see where that takes me. Other than that, just continue to draw and paint.

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Thanks for your time Emily

You can see more of Emily’s work here; https://www.facebook.com/emilybobmandraws

Review Quentin Blake: Inside Stories National Museum of Wales by Helen Joy

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4 Stars4 / 5

 

Charming.
Somehow these odd, quirky, scratchy drawings become pretty and delicate in this high, light gallery.
It’s wallpaper, says the guide, as we check out the canopy of characters clambering down the walls.
It was especially made for us. People want to buy it. They can’t.
He smoothes it along the wall, loves it.
The text, that’s vinyl lettering.
It’s honest, candid, an extension of the drawings, tucked under the pictures, telling us something about the artist as much as his work and in his hand.
I hear children: ooh, it’s Matilda… Mummy, look, it’s Matilda.
I see Michael Rosen’s heart on the walls at the far end. Blake chooses his pens and brushes as carefully as Rosen chose his words to describe his grief. Beautiful.
The guide loves this exhibition. He loves this Museum. We talk about the need to attract children to keep the funding. Museum having to morph from repository and display to school and play.
There is a low table with low stools. All bright colours and soft plastics. Books and pencils, bits of paper.
Here, which one to do you want to do?
This one, Mummy. Mrs Twit. I’m not very good. I can’t draw.
How sick am I of hearing this cri de couer. Who tells a child they can’t draw? Who?
So, we all sit down and pick up the colour pencils and the paper and we draw. The adults copy Blake. The children copy the adults. I just draw chickens.
How do we hang them on the wall?
Just clip them in front of the other pictures.
But I don’t want to hide any?
They’ll all be cleared away weekly.
Oh. Some of these are wonderful.
The guide lights up: yes, look at these – talented.
They all are.
Blake would want them all on display. He is happy to share his warts n all, so should we be happy to show off all our talents. Art is feeling, is communication – no right or wrong.
I get that the Museum needs income, I get that it should attract children for many good reasons but let the adults in too.
This exhibition is a truly refreshing expression of human frailties and our spirit, our humour, our ability to find laughter and hope everywhere. Blake shows us through caricature and exaggeration what it is to be a child, an adult, a human being, a creature of this world. It is humanity in ink. Deceptively simple.
As my Father always said, it takes genius to simplify, to explain. Blake does this perfectly.
I go home and I spend an evening replacing the nib in my great-grandfather’s pen and I start to draw.

16th July – 20th November, 2016
Free, suitable for all ages

https://museum.wales/cardiff/whatson/8916/Quentin-Blake-Inside-Stories/

 

Review Clear Cut OUT by Kimberley Pennell

After attending the last Clear Cut, I was apprehensive that its relocation to The Globe would negate a little of the intimacy it held in the tightly packed gallery space at MADE. Where the audience, sat at the knees of the performers, were close enough to catch every facial tic and viscera of emotion. Yet, by the end of the night, moving shoulder to shoulder with strangers on a makeshift dance floor, I felt the familiar sense of closeness. The new, rather more auspicious, platform, rather than forcing distance, allowed the artists to explore and subvert traditional space through both their work, and proximity.

Without introduction, two female voices, disjointed and distanced by static, swelled through the darkness. On a continual loop, the cycle of barely discernible phrases and jarring feedback quickly superseded the instinctive need to distinguish language and became a haunting norm, as if it were the voice of the space itself. Heightening the tension, paper aeroplanes poured down from above, which revealed, when unfolded, texts that were as tangled and mired in themselves as the surrounding soundscape. The experience was displacing, emphasised when the performer stepped into, through and over the audience, speaking into a megaphone, becoming the physical manifestation of the voices that both invited and rejected the act of listening, participation and belonging.

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Will Salter

 

The exploration of our transformative interactions space, whether physical, mental or negative, was articulated most convincingly by the poetry of Rosie Bufton. Her intimate portrayal of the truncating nature of prison, stemming from her work with inmates, details the devastation inherent in incarceration. The reality of the lives laid to waste in the “concrete womb,” are made apparent by her references to fathers, brothers and men, that without the possibility of a future, are left to languish inside the structure of the poem, even after we had finished listening. Bufton moved from the physical prisons, to the abstract, but no less damaging, emotional and mental prisons that are built by trauma, and policed by us. Moving and relatable, Bufton urges that despite how trapped we may feel inside our own minds, at least with self-agency, there is hope for breaking free.

 

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Turning Worlds

Turning Worlds, a complex, multi-disciplinary, and ultimately, beautiful performance – both visually and sonically – was so layered upon completion that it almost defies summary. Exploring and deconstructing the stiff structure of formal, and specifically, courtly, dance, Turning Worlds related the subversion of free and fluid movement to a revolt in wider society. The combination of music, spoken word, technology, video and dance worked in perfect symbiosis, culminating in something fresh, exciting and not to be missed.

The similar physicality of Livia Frankish’s clarinet performance of Three Ephemera posed, and answered, the question of how much a performer can give to a pre-constructed piece of work. Watching Frankish lean into her instrument, her chest ebb, her shoulders rise, her face articulating the emotion in each note, the act of creation appeared so intimate I felt voyeuristic watching. With a surprising amount of comedy she exaggerated the toll the piece takes physically to play, eventually superseding the voice of the clarinet with her own, almost tantrum like crescendo of notes, asserting the creativity and control of her interpretation.

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A Leap of Faith

Artist Robyn Hobbs took to the stage in what I described in my notes as a “dope ass Mrs Rotherham outfit”. With a heavily outlined nine-yard stare, the collaborative team of artist and band, lead by Ben Thomas, engaged in an elaborate call and response. Hobbs moved from frenetically painting, to enacting a progression of symbols and allegories that turned in tone with the seamless transitions of the music. The Leap of Faith alluded to by its various tropes, was sinister and wild in its expression, a literal and metaphorical precipice exemplified by the near edge of the stage. By the end, both band and artist declined into an entropic chaos, a stream of consciousness both verbal and aural that reflected a fall into a metaphysical madness, creating questions that lasted long after they departed the stage.

Particularly poignant was the collaborative dance and film based piece, Knots Cymylau. The film made visible the struggle of a body working through the trauma of mental illness. Heavy with the metaphor of its proximity to the cliffs edge, the camera work contrasted the vastness of the landscape, versus the macro shots of the body stretching and recoiling, emphasising the instability of identity anxiety with pulsating music and red screens. Especially when, perhaps unintentionally, it was followed by our compere’s poem, begun with repeated “shhhhs.” Reflecting the stigma that often dogs conversation of mental illness.

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Nevsky Perspective

Finishing, was the atmospheric, complex and full-bodied music of Nevsky Perspective. Pure vocals looped over industrial beats in an intricately layered soundscape that built and built, until its full weight settled into some sort of profound sonic experience. The set acted, not as a song-by-song showcase, but as an experience in its entirety, moving from hauntingly delicate moments to room engulfing sounds. A slow, aural burn that demands, and is truly worth, your investment.

As ever, no Clear Cut event is ever fully complete without the inimitable Will Salter. The vast spectrum of adjectives I could use to describe his performances will always pale in comparison to seeing the man and his extraordinary enunciatory prowess. Acting as the vessel for a DaDa-ist entity, his guttural and phonetic utterances stretched out of his body in a way that seemed improbable, and, despite our human mouths not being nearly as gymnastic, managed to get the audience shouting along before the first act had even started.

Clear Cut OUT is a unique event that manages to be both magnificently curated, yet totally organic. Consistently constructing programmes that offer a diverse range of experimental performance art, Clear Cut is an accessible and entertaining entryway into the fringe of local and national talent.

Find out more about the event here: https://www.facebook.com/CardiffMADE/

Or have a taster here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JeQJ4MaIVtU

Props to Glyn Owen and Sarah Vaughan-Jones for the images.
Special thanks to The Globe, Sarah Vaughan-Jones and all contributors and performers for the organisation of this event.