I’r Stiwdio/ Into the Studio
Half a dozen talented alumni of the Swansea College of Art, UWTSD are the subject of a delightful new show at Swansea’s Mission Gallery. It celebrates the art of making and, in the case of Glenys Cour, almost a century of doing so.
Fishguard-born Cour studied under Ceri Richards and her work shares the same deep love of colour. Still working every day at the age of 98, some of her works on show feature the sea which she can see through her studio windows.
In ‘And it flowed to the sea…’ the land flows like waves, undulating hills of burgundy and cadmium yellow under a tangerine sky, while the sea itself is ultramarine, edging into ink-bottle black.
In other Cour works such as ‘I observed…’ there is the hint of an artist’s hand set amidst a highly abstracted still life of flowers, their petals glowing as if quietly ablaze with nasturtium orange.
With more than a few bright hints of the work of Mark Chagall, these oil paintings are small essays about the intensity of colour and the reimagining of the land.
Mark Eley, one half of the design partnership ELEY KISHIMOTO brings a playful zest to the show with his ‘Flash Gnome.’
The hand-painted ceramic garden ornament sports the sort of clothes the Op art practitioner Bridget Riley might have conjured up while the gnome itself stands on a carpet busy with black and white lines, like crazy paving gone mad.
There’s a gently funny backdrop too, being another animated gnome rocking slowly back and fore.
Meanwhile Eley’s life and work partner Wakoko Kishimoto and he have produced some lovely ‘Vanity Cats’ non-woven wallpaper, which elegantly feature fat cats with fat tails looping into patterns.
It is easy to see how this artistic pairing has led to work in a great range of media and contexts, anything from the world of automotive design through furnishing to the world of electronics.
It’s a playfully modern design double act.
Angela Maddock describes her studio as being ‘often frustratingly messy, but somehow there will always be some small clearing, an oasis of calm, which is the focus of her attention.’
That focus allow her to produce delicate art made of threats and soft materials, often making connections with myth.
By binding scissors and shears she replaces their sharpness with softness and even makes scissors out of cotton and linen threads, ironically unable to cut anything at all, but beautiful in themselves.
Clare Pentlow loves working with paper, exploring both its strength and fragility.
She has pushed her explorations of the versatility of the material sufficiently far to have created her own unique style of paper cutting, giving the paper a soft texture and generating shapes which resemble somewhat fluffy sea urchins or trilobite shaped soft fossils.
The works demonstrate her love of maths and science and show how she finds inspiration in the colours and patterns of nature, especially at a microscopic level.
One of the largest pieces on show is a panel from Cardigan-born Catrin Jones’ panel for the ground floor waiting room of the Grand Hospital in Cwmbran.
This features details from local Ordnance Survey maps and motifs drawn from nature such as sprays of twigs and branches and includes a somewhat exotic great northern diver, or loon which doesn’t seem at all out of place.
The sixth artist whose work is represented here, Rhian Haf, fully realises her basic ambition of ‘capturing light and shadow.’
Her suspended panels of opaque, sandblasted glass reminded me of the scene in Jim Jarmusch’s movie ‘Down by Law’ where some U.S. prisoners, looking at a drawing of a window on their cell wall, debate whether they are looking through the window or at the window.
Rhian Haf’s pieces similarly invite us to ask such questions of the works, at the same time inviting illuminating answers. Which are entirely in keeping with her desire to ‘make glass come alive in the presence of light,’ as the exhibition catalogue has it.
I’r Stiwdio/Into the Studio runs at the Mission Gallery in Swansea’s Maritime Quarter until the 5th November.
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