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Eisteddfod gold medals and scholarships awarded to outstanding artists

30 Jul 2022 4 minute read
The work of Elin Hughes and Natalia Dias

Gold medals and scholarships celebrating craft and design, art, and architecture have been awarded on the first day of the Ceredigion National Eisteddfod.

The Gold Medal for Craft and Design

The Gold Medal for Craft and Design and £5,000 was awarded to Natalia Dias, a sculptor from Cardiff who created the heads of soldiers from mythology and legend.

The selectors, Julia Griffiths Jones, Peter Wakelin and Catrin Webster, said of Natalia’s work: “We were attracted by the originality and presence of the sculptures of the heads of female soldiers from mythology and legend, decorated with geometric forms from nature with a hint of metamorphosis between people, plants and animals.

“Her sculptures manifested themselves as skillfully crafted objects and strong feminist and environmental statements about the power of women and the connection of humanity and nature.”

Originally from Portugal, Natalia explores the woman as a warrior, a figure who exudes power and confidence, adapting to a constantly changing environment, transforming between human, plant and animal.

Discussing her work, Natalia Dias said: “My interest in natural geometric phenomena of repeating patterns in plants and crystals is reflected in the symmetry of line and form that often surrounds my figures.

“I aim to combine the characteristics of the human condition with the meditative and immersive beauty of nature.”

Fine Art Gold Medal

The Gold Medal for Fine Art and £5,000 will be presented to Seán Vicary, an animator from Ceredigion, for his video, Sitelines.

The selectors, Julia Griffiths Jones, Peter Wakelin and Catrin Webster said they were thrilled by his combination of nature, technology, poetry and ambiguity, and added: “Seán’s film conveys the links of a rich past in the valleys of the Welsh highlands.

“He records found objects – a piece of horsehair plaster, handmade nails, a ‘witch bottle’ – and weaves them into a surreal dance, imaginative to deep time music.”

The video responds to Alan Garner’s novel The Owl Service, which in turn responds to the legend of Blodeuwedd, creating a new narrative around her in the Llanymawddwy valley in the 1960s.

Seán said: “I grew up with Garner’s early novels. Looking back, I see how they suggested a framework for mapping the boundaries of my own childhood: defined by ditch, field and hedgerows. But The Owl Service was something else. Too young to the book, my presentation was the 1969 television adaptation. I’m not sure I ever recovered.”

Seán Vicary, Sitelines.

Young Artist Scholarship

Ceramic artist Elin Hughes, who lives and works in Dolgellau, has been awarded The Young Artist Scholarship worth £1500 and will be offered a space to exhibit her work in Y Lle Celf at the National Eisteddfod of Wales, Llyn and Eifionydd 2023.

The selectors, Julia Griffiths Jones, Peter Wakelin and Catrin Webster said: “We were captivated by the sculptural sensitivity, witty and civilized features of her pots, which take traditional forms and turn them into something new.”

Describing her work, Elin said: “The dishes start on the wheel, but they are put together by hand, distorted, broken, torn and put back together, until that they are completely different from their original forms.

“The making is a difficult and perilous battle against gravity, and not one I win every time, so as a result these objects are in a perpetual state of vulnerability.”

Architecture Scholarship

The 2022 National Eisteddfod Architecture Scholarship worth £1500 was won by Sonia Cunningham, a young architect from Machynlleth for her work on two specific projects – the Bee Monastry and a school at Llanidloes.

The selectors, Gethin Jones and Ffion Launchbury, said: “The Bee Monastery project conveyed Sonia’s approach which was based on research, and which resulted in a beautifully illustrated design.

“The Ysgol Llanidloes project shows a calm, mature and playful attitude towards the project. She considers the importance of external spaces and how the thresholds between the internal and external spaces create additional spaces for the occupants to discover.”

It has been revealed that the Gold Medal for Architecture and the Plaque of Merit for Architecture will not be presented this year.

A spokesperson for the National Eisteddfod said that there was no merit in the entries for these competitions. Architecture is a core and important part of the Eisteddfod’s work and the Gold Medal for Architecture was presented for the first time in 1960.

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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 year ago

It is very pleasing to hear that young people from my part of the world, Dolgellau and Machynlleth have been so successful and their talent recognised, the Bee Monastery intrigues the honey lover in me. The piece by sculptor Natalia Dias from Cardiff is quite breathtaking and Sean Vicary of Ceridigion’s choice of Llanymawddwy and the road over Bwlch y Groes is almost a legend in my mind from childhood travels with my father who loved the high country, Ffordd Ddu was another adventure, taking his Vauxhall where a Landrover would have thought twice. The prize money is substantial and… Read more »

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