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Carmarthen School of Art student wins Osi Rhys Osmond Art Prize

27 Jul 2022 4 minute read
Left Hilary Rhys Osmond, and Chelsea Reilly and Chelsea’s prize winning artwork. Photo Siân Lewis

The third Osi Rhys Osmond (ORO) Art Prize was recently awarded at an emotional evening celebrating the life of the Welsh artist who died in 2015.

Osi’s relatives and friends, the shortlisted artists, and members of the public filled Llansteffan Memorial Hall, just yards from the house and studio that was Osi’s home, for an evening of wine and food, music and words, and of course appreciation of Osi’s artistic legacy, and the promising talent being nurtured and recognised by the award in his name.

As well as being one of Wales’s foremost painters, Osi was a polymath: a writer, teacher, broadcaster, actor and activist, and an honorary member of the Gorsedd of Bards.

He went on to teach at rom 1988 to 1986 he was a highly regarded lecturer on the Foundation Course at Carmarthen School of Art, and it is to a student at that institution that the ORO Art Prize, established
in 2019, is awarded.

New volume

The event, movingly compèred by Osi’s sons, Luke and Che, also saw the launch of a new volume of writing by and about Osi, Cultural Alzheimer’s and other essays, published by the H’mm Foundation. Ali Anwar, CEO of the foundation, and a friend of Osi, introduced the book, and handed over the
handsome trophy, commissioned from glass artist Rodney Bender, to be presented to the award winner.

Osi’s family members, Jobe and Olivia Bruzas, delivered wonderful musical interludes with songs in both Welsh and English, while the family connection was completed by Osi’s wife, Hilary, drawing the winning raffle ticket for a print of one of Osi’s paintings, specially chosen by the patron of this year’s event,
Dr Chris John.

Luke Osmond, himself an artist and art teacher now living in Oxford, had judged the entries along with textile artist Julia Griffiths Jones, and he spoke about each of the shortlisted entries which had been produced in response to the theme “We talk, think, dream and stare”, a line from a poem written by Osi.

The winning entry was by Chelsea Reilly, and entitled “My mind map, a neurological underpinning.” At first approach the work looks something like a torn fragment of a paper doily, pinned loosely within an open-fronted frame.

Luke noted that at first the piece is unassuming, yet as you draw closer the paper-lacework resolves into words that draw the viewer in and demand close and focussed attention.

Calm thoughts

Chelsea has meticulously cut out holes in the paper leaving a tightly woven mesh of text as part of what she describes as “investigating cerebral and physical spaces and places, encouraging calm thoughts through artistic manifestations.

“I have been exploring the meaning of places that I find significant to me, the relevance of their calming aspects and their impact on my resilience.”

The piece appears in one sense like a fragment of old manuscript that could fall apart at any moment, yet the pristine whiteness of the paper and the meticulous neatness of the cuts that form the letters counter that fragility with strength of purpose and aesthetic beauty.

Chelsea was later presented personally with the award at Oriel Osi Gallery in Llansteffan, where the work all eight shortlisted artists can be viewed until the end of July.

The ORO Art Prize 2022 Catalogue, is downloadable from the Osi Rhys Osmond website, here. Cultural Alzheimer’s and other essays is available by emailing [email protected]

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