I love the National Museum in Cardiff. It has a fantastic collection of Impressionist and early twentieth century Art. I used to visit it a lot when I was a student there in the 1980s. We visited it yesterday afternoon.
We started in a contemporary exhibition called “Who Decides?” . It didn’t particularly engage me although there were some excellent etchings by Paula Rego. But my attention wandered. I think it tells you a lot when I decided that I was more interested in the Assistants who spend all day here, than the work in this particular gallery. Perhaps, it because I have recently done at stint as an exam invigilator that I paid them more attention than I usually do. I was intrigued. So I started taking photos…
I got caught up in the idea of looking at the people that were meant to be invisible. I looked at these “invisible people” even in the galleries where I was interested in the work on the walls. They are not really invisible as they are certainly a presence in the gallery. Especially when they tell off the visitors for touching the sculptures. One man was caressing a Henry Moore piece, in the way the rest of us long to, and got a swift reprimand. Another was clearly drunk, he was humoured by the assistants, but asked to be quieter. He did a lot of pantomime hissing in response to that and veered out of the gallery! I pretended not to see.
The colour that I seem to looking for yesterday was red. The assistants had red ties. My favourite paintings had red in them. I think its this long winter – looking for visual and psychological warmth.
Armand Seguin, Christopher Williams and the wondeful Peter Blake.
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.
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.
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!
This is the first of a series of urbanscapes in which I paint cities other than my home city of Swansea. Here we start with a city close to me, Cardiff. There will be urban cityscapes to follow of London and New York, among others. This is a painting of Bute Terrace in Cardiff with two imposing hotels, including Radisson Blu, in the distance.
I love how the mingling glare of white car headlights and the blaring red of brake lights evokes a sense of busy movement and traffic jams. One of the most common signature sights of the city.