The UoG Art Purchase Prize opened on Tuesday at the Welsh Millennium Centre, Cardiff, and runs there until 26th August. 16 artists are showing their work, a selection of paintings, sculpture, photography, video and print all concerned with this year’s theme “Female Wales”.
I have five pieces in the exhibitions, these two drawings are currently being exhibited:
From 6 September to 18 October the exhibition continues at Oriel y Bont, University of Glamorgan, Pontypridd, with different works by the same artists.
Basket with its Doll 2009 acrylic on board 43 x 30 cm
Basket with Pelvis and Doll’s Head 2009 acrylic on board 30 x 43 cm
Self Portrait at Ty Mâd 2009 acrylic on board 58 x 43 cm
“Typical, sometimes uneasy, ‘Female’ imagery such as dolls, knitting and the pelvis, thread themselves through these five works. All can be said to be ‘domestic’, but of Female themes ‘nurture’ and ‘protection’ are most deliberately addressed.
The basket or the tin nicho appear in all but one image and are used either to isolate and protect (as in Self Portrait at Ty Mâd where the subject is separated from her environment) or to cocoon and nurture. In two of the paintings the basket physically protects its contents – being a crib for the doll awaiting mending and preserving the doll’s head and pelvis. The pelvic bone is heavy with obvious female symbolism. At once an image of birth and death it makes a natural and unnatural partner to the doll’s head and is foremost in Self Portrait with Tibbs, Knitting and Pelvis providing the fairlead through which the eternal knitting finds its tension.
In Looking After Snowy the protective quality of the basket goes beyond the physical and the hard, little, Welsh doll is invested with the spirit of Eirlys, an elderly family friend. The doll placed tenderly in the basket portrays the naïve desire that the absent Eirlys might also come to no harm. It is in this drawing that Wales is represented very obviously by the national dress and more subjectively in the same work by the heavy carbon-black of the charcoal drawing which for me evokes the coal fires and black soil of 1960s Maesteg.
Many objects that appear in these images have been handed down to me and will be handed on. The paintings and drawings deal with being part of a continuum which is Welsh. The works are not deliberately about the ‘Female’ nor about ‘Wales’ but because of their subject and content they are necessarily about both.”