Posted on 31 Comments

In the Glynn Vivian Open Exhibition

Exhibition - Emma Cownie 2019

The Opening night of an “Open” exhibition is an affair full of nervous energy! This is because 90% of people in the room are artists who are all relieved/happy to have their work included in the exhbition in the first place and secondly have come to see where their painting/s have ended up? Are they in a corner? Can they be seen?

Open Exhibition is where the organisers invite or “call” for artists to submit their work (for a small fee). The best works are then selected to be included in the exhibition. There are massive national exhibitions (like the BP Portrait Prize) that are so massive that they have a preliminary round where digital photos are first sent for consideration. The Glynn Vivian, does it the old fashioned way by requiring artists to bring their paintings to gallery for submission. You can submit up to two works each. As, it’s only open to artists living in the Swansea area, it’s not too onerous to drop in the paintings.

 

All artists fear rejection. We are sensitive souls. So to have to face the prospect of being rejected (one or two paintings) isn’t pleasant. Inclusion isn’t automatic, even if your work has been included before (I was in 2017), especially as the people doing the choosing (or “curating”) change every year. This year’s curators were Richard Billingham and Durre
Shahwar. Richard is a photographer and filmer maker who was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2001. Shahwar is a writer, editor, and creative facilitator. Thankfully they chose both of the works I submitted.

I had deliberately decided to arrive an hour into the Opening party as I remember it being very crowded to last time I came in 2017. It was still very crowded at 3pm and the numbers only really thinned out after 4pm. There were 245 pieces in the exhibition. The two rooms in the gallery were filled to the brim with paintings (and artists). were overwhelmingly 2D art. Paintings, sketches and prints, but there were films and sculptures too.

Crowded Glynn Vivian Open
Crowded Glynn Vivian Open

Of course, the first thing I did was try and find my paintings. They were in the second room. I was initially surprised to see that they were not together but had been arranged separately as part of themed groups of colours. I thought that the arrangement worked well. It’s a funny feeling seeing your paintings in amongst lots of other paintings. It’s like a familiar face amongst a crowd of strangers.

There’s no way I can get a photo of both paintings, I thought. Actually, for a long time, I could not get a photo of each painting as the gallery was so crowded.

Spring Light on Gola (top centre)
Spring Light on Gola (top centre)
Spring Light on Gola (top centre)
Spring Light on Gola (top centre)

For some reason, people stood in front of my second painting, Autumn in the Rosses for the longest time.  Different groups of people too. So I had to wait quite a while to get a photo of it and even then I had a person’s shadow on it!

Spot my painting?
Spot my painting?
Autumn in the Rosses (top left)
Autumn in the Rosses (top left)

It wasn’t just me trying to get a photo of my work. These artists were very excited about being in the exhibition. Their joy was a delight to see.

DSC_0040-001.JPG

"Textile Bouquet" by Eleanor Anne Owens
“Textile Bouquet” by Eleanor Anne Owens

There was so much to look at in the exhibition. There was such a variety of work too. Here are just a few that caught my eye. The most affecting work were the two bird sculptures by Mike Hill. One was made of fishing tackle detritus and the other was in the shape of a cormorant smothered in tar.  In fact, the tar-bird was so affecting that I had to fight back the tears. There were quite a few works that touched up the climate emergency and waste but these two, in my opinion, were the most powerful ones.

What are we Doing? What Have we Done? No.1 and No2.
What are we Doing? What Have We Done? No.1 and No2.
What are we Doing? What Have we Done? No.1 and No2.
What are we Doing? What Have we Done? No.1 and No2.
DSC_0044-001
Dafydd Williams “A Coded Reverie”
Steve Pleydell "Margot"
Steve Pleydell “Margot”
Amanda Puleston "Doolin, Ireland"
Amanda Puleston “Doolin, Ireland” – It’s knitted art!

 

I particularly liked the animal/nature themed wall.

I also really liked Myles Lawrence Mansfield ” Rejections/Acceptance Machine”. I liked it even more when it was explained to me that it moved when you turned to handle! I always like things that do something. Thinking about it now, it may well have been a comment on the life of an artist!

DSC_0082-001
Myles Lawrence Mansfield ” Rejections/ Acceptance Machine”

I had to pleasure of meeting fellow artist Wendy Sheridan in real life (after many online interactions via social media).  She very kindly took my photo!

Emma Cownie Exhibition
Me at the Glynn Vivian

I would highly recommend visiting the Glynn Vivian to see all the works in the Open Exhibition. It’s on until 23rd February (closed on Mondays) and is free!

Find about more about the Open Exhibition here 

Posted on 11 Comments

International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day is a worldwide event that celebrates women’s achievements – from the political to the social – while calling for gender equality. Its roots can be traced to 1908, when 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding voting rights, better pay and shorter working hours. The first time there was an a “Women’s Day” it was a year later, on February 28, 1909 in New York. March 8 was suggested by the 1910 International Woman’s Conference (attended by more than 100 women from 17 countries) to become an “International Woman’s Day.” In 1911, it was celebrated for the first time in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland on March 19. In 1913, it was decided to transfer IWD to March 8, and it has been celebrated on that day ever since.

240px-Frauentag_1914_Heraus_mit_dem_Frauenwahlrecht.jpg
Frauen Tag 1914

After women gained the vote in Soviet Russia in 1917, March 8 became a national holiday there. It was also celebrated by the communists in China from 1922, and after founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. Mao Zedong declared that ‘women hold up half the sky’ and March 8 was made an official holiday and women were given a half-day off. One can help but wonder that if it had been a international Men’s Day they’d have been given a whole day off! IWD  was finally adopted by the United Nations in 1975.

The original aim – to achieve full gender equality for women the world – has still not been realised. A gender pay gap persists across the globe and women are still not present in equal numbers in business or politics. Figures show that globally, women’s education, health and violence towards women is still worse than that of men.

Cricketers.jpg
Former Cricketers

In Swansea there will be an exhibition of Swansea-based female artists’ work at Cinema & Co. It is meant to show case the work of female artists, myself included. My painting “Former Cricketers” (above) is included. It is from my “Hollowed Community” project which focused on theme of declining community and the lack of sustainability (that means families with children) in areas such as Brynmill in Swansea due to (pretty much) unchecked studentification. The exhibitions will run from March 8th to 20th. There is an opening event on Thursday March 8th 6 pm to 8.30 pm. There will be performances, paintings, films and some “extra surprises”.

cINEMA&cO.JPG

 

If you want to read more about the “Hollowed Community” project click here.

Posted on 6 Comments

Glynn Vivian Open Exhibition

Christmas Shows (2 of 2)

In October 2011 the gallery was closed temporarily for a £6 million refurbishment and recladding of the 1974 extension. It wasn’t opened again until 2017. That’s almost 6 years closed.

_90901469_gallery2.jpg
The Glynn Vivian looked like this for over 5 years

Then this  summer it reopened.

So when the gallery announced that it was going to hold an Open Exhibition this December there was a lot of interest from Swansea-based artists. The opening event on Saturday was super packed. We had to queue to get in.

My two paintings were “Round the bend” and “Glamour Glamour”

Seamas, my husband (James Henry Johnston) also had a self portrait in the exhibition. I thought his painting looked really good!

There was lots of really interesting work there. I really enjoyed the fact that there was a lot of variety and the walls were packed with work. The standard was very high. I intend to return when it’s not so packed to have a another look.

“Round The Bend” Oil on Linen Canvas 55 x 46 cm unframed

Posted on Leave a comment

Christmas shows (1 of 2)

A few of my paintings with be showing at the #BrynmillCoffeeHouse over the festive period. The people at the Coffee House have weathered a bit of misfortune recently, their very large beautiful plate window at the front was broken by a thief who made off with two small charity boxes. They stayed open and cheerful throughout the disruption and a new window is in place. You will notice from the photos that I was able to return and  add a third painting in (hence the change of clothes).

IMG_4433

Posted on 11 Comments

Glynn Vivian Open Exhibition

Delighted to say that these two paintings “Glanmor Glamour” and “Round the Bend” have both been selected to the part of the Swansea Open exhibition in December at the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery! Very proud to have my work showing in such a great gallery.

Glamor Glamour
Glamor Glamour
Round the Bend
Round the Bend (Oil on Linen Canvas, 55 x 46 cm unframed) 

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Elysium Studios – #2 Orchard Street Studios

Following on from my last post about Swansea Elysium’s open studio event this weekend,  just gone. Elysium provides affordable studio space for artists. The building which also fronts onto the High Street used to be an Iceland freezer food shop downstairs. Today that’s where Volcano theatre hang out and perform. Upstairs there are two floors of over 50 artists’ studios.

Susan Evans and Lindsey Kent have written, designed, illustrated and are publishing their own storybook with Gomer Press. They have also produced their own merchandising and one-off figurines.

 

Tina Wisby’s Creatory for Crafts (email thecreatorywales@gmail.com)

Nazma Botanica

Unbelievably, the talented Nazma was only two days into a 2-month residency at Elysium. She has clearly relished the chance to make this space her own. I can’t wait to see what it looks like after 2 months.

 

Rhian Wyn Stone (rhianstone@gmail.com) I absolutely love her “wire” pieces. She does great figures but also these wonderful wirehouses. Sadly I didn’t get to met Rhian but I noticed a sign she put up that they are for sale and very reasonably priced too.

 

DSC_0600
Rhian Wyn Stone

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Elysium Studios – #1 Mansel Street

A great way to see art on your doorstep is to visit open studio events. Often these studios are in the artists’ homes. But not always. This weekend saw Swansea’s Elysium gallery’s 10th-anniversary celebrations. Elysium has grown steadily over the past decade and as well as running a Gallery and two international competitions its provides affordable studio space in 3 city-centre locations for up to 100 artists. This weekend there were open studio events throughout the day in the city centre. Today I am going to share photos from the studios in Mansel Street.

DSC_0554
Winnie the lurcher was a very popular vistor

Mansel Street Studios – a set of studios on two floors above a mid-century parade of shops. There was a beautiful wooden staircase. It is home to painters, textile designers, painters and a gnome.

Ann Jordan  – Photographs do not begin to do justice to her work. The wall hanging was fabulous – it was massive and luxurious. Originally made for an installation in a lighthouse at Portishead, the flowers were meant to evoke the flowers cast on waters for a sea burial. Very poignant.

 

Ann Jordan
Wall Hanging by Ann Jordan

The fleece work was also magnificent – the texture and depth of each piece just does not come across in a photo. They were wonderfully thick and woolly; being made up of raw Welsh fleeces from Brecon.

www.annjordan-art.co.uk

DSC_0540
Felted fleece – Evoking the contours and rivers of the Beacons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Words that Burn  

DSC_0545
Still from Words that Burn: “The Crunch” podcast

The Crunch is a multimedia poetry magazine –Each issue features a single poet, who has three of their poems filmed and uploaded to our video archive, and joins us for a short podcast. We chatted with Richard James Jones, a very talented poet. Poets he tells us, need quiet places away from the humdrum cares of the home, to come and think and work.

Carys Evans – has a wonderful large studio with windows that reach from the ceiling to floor. She has an exhibition in Cardiff later this month at the Oriel Kooywood Gallery in Museum Place.

 

DSC_0547
Carys Evans

 

DSC_0549
Carys Evans

Graham Parker – Painter and campaigner. Graham is fascinated by the sea that skirts Swansea Bay but for some reason, it was his paintings of lemons that took my fancy.

DSC_0556
Graham Parker – Still  life with lemons

Amir A Nejad – his studio wasn’t participating, which is a shame but his stunning portraits lined the corridors.

DSC_0552
Portrait by Amir A Nejad

My next blog will be about the High Street Studios.

P.S. Here’s the gnome I mentioned earlier.

DSC_0569
Arty Gnome

 

Posted on 6 Comments

The Sight, Smells and Sound of Art

DSC_0460
Abertawe 2021 Bloc (Outside Swansea Train station)

Back to Cardiff again to see some more art and collect my paintings from the madeinroath festival.

The madeinroath 2017 festival has Art has installations/happenings across almost 80 different locations across the suburb of Roath, Cardiff.  The wonderful thing is that it’s all free to visit. The weather was grey with a cold biting wind. The day before Storm Brian had lashed the streets with rain and all the outdoor events had been cancelled. Seamas and I meandered down the streets of Roath to the “Old Laundry” which was in a ramshackle  courtyard tucked away at the end of of a dead end street.

The first installation was that of Tanya Dower called “Thrill Seeking, Dirty”. The photo only captures a tenth was it was like. The installation filled two small rooms. The air of neglect was palpable. Firstly there was this thumbing, squealing, soundscape which reminded me of  a playful crazy version of BBC Radiophonic Workshop  noise.  There were a series of black and white photos of an industrial landscape and fragments of charred rubbish laid out on the floor but most importantly was the stink. Oh the smell. It repelled some people at the door. I initially thought it was incense being burnt to cover the smell of damp. Tanya and the festival volunteer with her spoke to us enthusiastically about the installation. It turned out that Tanya had “designed” this smell to comprise wood smoke, coal and urine. The whole installation had been inspired by her youth spent playing in the ruins of abandoned pithead building in Merthyr Tydfil.

IMG_1969
Me trying to work out what the smell is!

Upstairs there were several rooms with exhibitions/installations. Seamas found Lynette Margerison’s huge charcoal drawings  very moving.

I was fascinated by Ian Watson’s sound installation  “A Complex and Increasingly Important Announcement from an Extremely Limited Vocabulary”. The row of mini  solar panels drew their energy from the sun (what there was of it that afternoon) and produced a layers of clicks, drones and tones that oscillated and wavered. Ian generous spent time explaining to me and Seamas me how the solar panels generated the sound and how he adjusted the layers of noise.

 

We spent the rest of the afternoon at the Inkspot Centre.

DSC_0496
Flags and my exhibition upstairs in the Inkspot

I finally found out the names of the third year ceramics students we had chatted to last Sunday evening (Morgan Dowdell, Lucy Fielden, Marek Liska and Magda Strydon). They had also added to their work on display in the hall.  Just to warn you that Morgan’s work (at the bottom of these photos) (which is excellent) is also very explicit so look away now if you are of a sensitive nature!

 

I really enjoyed being part of this arts festival and I wish I could have seen more of the art across Roath.  I think you would have to stay in Cardiff for the whole week to explore and to get a good sense of the breadth of what was going on here. There’s always next year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on 2 Comments

Cardiff Festival launch

Cardiff is a city that embraces change and it embraces art. Everywhere you go massive murals are tucked into corners, whether in the city centre or in the terraces of Roath. It gives the city a great feeling of vibrancy.

Not all of the street art was official. Back lanes off City Road were also full of graffiti, which was apparently “tolerated” by the local police (according to a rather shy and sweet graffiti artist who was in the midst of creating a wonderful 6 foot blue skull).

Cutting through a tiny urban park and play area we come across the Plasnewydd Community Garden, which is located on poetic-sounding Shakespeare Street. As you can see from the photos, the sun was out. Which was particularly pleasant as we are in the misdt of a lot of grey and damp autumnal weather in Wales at the moment. There we paused to look in on Tessa Waite and her “Tea Encounter”. We had not arranged for an actual “encounter” but we visited her gazebo. The atmosphere inside was wonderfully calm. Tessa, from Brecon, is a Budhist and she radiated a lot of calm herself. We stood for quite a while listening to the sounds of the breeze and the shouts of the children playing outside.

IMG_1656

 

Then we finally made it to Inkspot Centre for the official opening. There had been a children’s parade through Roath with a whole lot of colourful flags designed by local schools and community groups. This flags had been printed by James Cook who was valiantly hanging them across the hall, with children thundering around at the foot of his stepladder! A massive indoor picnic was taking place with music and singing (and a harpist).  We spent a good hour or so downstairs chatting with the friendly ceramic students who demonstrating their clay working techniques.

The festival ends this Sunday and its well worth a visit.