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Attic Gallery, 14 Cambrian Place, Swansea
Until Sat 18 Oct / Sat 25 Oct-Sat 15 Nov
This month, Swansea’s Attic Gallery showcases two exhibitions by artists whose work presents contrasting visions of
the Welsh landscape: one rural, the other urban and industrial.
Nick Holly was brought up in the St. Thomas’s district of Swansea, where he still lives. His work explores the everyday
comings and goings of this dockside community, from children kicking footballs in the streets, to housewives gossiping
on the doorsteps of their tidy terraced homes.
It is a nostalgic vision of Swansea: one which is distinctly out-of-step with the modern reality of the city, which has
experienced massive redevelopment of late, coupled with a shifting economic base that has eroded its traditional
working-class communities and brought a new wave of residents, many settling from overseas. Nevertheless, these
colourful paintings, with their blue-grey wash and occasional flashes of yellow and red, have a naïve charm, reminis-
cent of Lowry or the early work of Rhondda painter Ernest Zobole.
The second exhibition at the Attic features work by the Anglesey-based artist Wilf Roberts. His main subject is y Cefn
Gwlad or the Welsh countryside, notably the rocky grandeur of Mynydd Bodafon or the farms and villages around
Llanerchymedd. Working in oils and acrylics, his dark, thick-set landscapes draw obvious comparisons with painters
like Kyffin Williams or John Elwyn of Cardiganshire who formed part of the Welsh Environmentalist School of the 1950s.
But again, these scenes are devoid of modern influences, such as tractors, pylons or plastic silo bags.
So, while exploring two different sides of the country, both Holly and Roberts present an essentially romantic image
of Wales. This may have strong appeal, particularly from a commercial point of view. But it ignores the complex, and
often fractious, reality of the present.
Wales is changing, and if Welsh painting is to keep pace with contemporary shifts in the social and cultural make-up of
the nation, it must change too. Holly and Roberts are both good painters, but their vision is distorted by harking back to
the Wales of the past – a Wales that no longer exists, if ever it did in such settled forms as these. Admission: free. Info:
01792 653387 / HUW DAVID JONES
Martin Tinney Gallery, Cardiff
The Riverfront, Newport
BayArt, Cardiff Bay
Thurs 2-Sat 25 Oct
Until Sat 25 Oct
Sat 18-Fri 1 Oct
Evelyn Williams’ paintings explore the
Washington Gallery, Penarth
Capturing the opposite poles of various
This October, three of Cardiff’s excep-
subtleties and complexities of relation-
relationships in life, from masculinity and
tional artists, all of whom graduated in
ships and human predicament. They are
Tues 7-Fri 1 Oct
femininity to nature and industry, this
the last five years (the latter pair also
very personal images which chronicle the
During the Second World War, the Ministry
members of band The Aviary), will be ex-
life of the artist as a child, lover, mother or
of Labour funded a project called ‘Record-
month-long art exhibition displays insights
hibiting at BayArt, confirming the gallery’s
ing Britain’ that commissioned artists to
into the everyday contradictions we are
commitment to emerging talent.
Born in 1929, Williams studied at St.
document important buildings and land-
surrounded by, echoed by the conflicting
Tim Freeman works in the Romantic (and
Martin’s School of Art, then the Royal
scapes before they were destroyed by en-
clauses in its title. Using the diversity of
neo-Romantic) tradition of landscape,
College of Art, before attracting the atten-
emy bombardment. I was reminded of this
Newport as a cause for celebration, artists
finding his sources on walks around
tion of the art world for winning the John
when I heard about Shirley Anne Owen’s
Dan Romer and Stephanie Roberts show
their works at the Riverfront Gallery until
Maesteg and Cardiff. Overlaying digital im-
Moore Prize for Sculpture in 1961. She
plans to make a visual survey of National
the end of the month.
ages to create a new, emotive landscape,
held her first major retrospective at the
Trust sites along the Welsh coastline. But
Cardiff-taught ceramic artist Stephanie
his work is dreamlike, largely black and
Whitechapel Art Gallery in 1972, and today
instead of the German Luftwaffe being the
Roberts was born in Northern Ireland.
white, showing rifts in the sky, strange
her work is held in numerous public and
threat this time, it is global warming; this
Known for extracting her influences from
symmetries and placed obelisks.
private collections, including the National
is a landscape at risk due to rising sea
ordinary objects and places, Roberts acts
Liam O’Connor’s art is darkly intimate,
Museum of Wales. This is her second solo
levels over the next century.
as a feminine Gaudi to create dreamy,
often portraying female faces and forms,
exhibition at the Martin Tinney Gallery,
The resulting exhibition, Changing Coast-
naturalistic tiled masterpieces. In recent
veiled and exposed. Working from films of
and includes 20 new paintings.
lines, features 14 large-scale paintings
years she has played a key role in bringing
his sitters, he also creates layers, painting
Young women with pale white faces
and over 60 drawings, as well as a series
mosaics and ceramic art into the community
on several surfaces to produce a 3D space.
and long, straight hair feature in many
of further dry point etchings and colla-
by working on projects with local groups
“This exhibition represents the culmina-
of Williams’ images. With their elegant
graphs of associated subjects. As could be
and schools. Her work has tiled the points of
tion of ideas and techniques which I’ve
pose, detailed complexion and sense of
expected, the work has a melancholic feel,
Newport’s Industrial Compass to mark the
been exploring for years now,” he explains.
religiosity, they recall the work of the Pre-
reminding viewers of the beauty which
city’s industrial regeneration, helped create
“The work is delicate, pretty even, because
Raphaelites. Elsewhere, she has produced
stands to be lost, as well as the transitory
a mini mosaic Mecca in a Cardiff mosque
making a painting beautiful lets me ask
a series of Gothic forest scenes which pos-
nature of our coastline. Many of the paint-
and celebrated the environment and history
uneasy, even uncanny questions of my
ses an ominous mood of fear and danger.
ings recall the work of Neo-Romantics
of Brynmawr by incorporating art into the
sitters, in the completed image.”
These suggest a darker side to the artist’s
like John Piper or Kenneth Rowntree, who
town centre walkways.
Chris Holloway’s latest paintings, bright
worked in Wales as part of the Recording
Dan Romer has a broad creative background
and clean yet sumptuously colourful, and
Williams’ work is still little known in her
Britain project.
from studying art in Newport and printmak-
often depicting rural scenes, represent a
native Wales. This is perhaps because she
Also included in the exhibition is a series
ing in London. The part-time printmaker
new direction in terms of subject matter.
eschews popular themes like community,
of landscape-inspired sculptures by cera-
and part-time teacher’s works are vivid and
Moving further away from previous abstract
landscape or national identity. However,
mist Becky Foster. These focus on jagged
futuristic, with computer-generated lines of
paintings, his work will concentrate on the
the current exhibition, together with an
rock forms and exposed flora, but have a
graphics slicing and dividing the digital art.
representational along with the abstract,
accompanying illustrated catalogue writ-
smooth, almost buttery feel about them.
Two different artists then, displaying two
producing a more varied body of work.
ten by Nicholas Usherwood, should attract
They perhaps detract from the solemnity
widely different mediums in an exhibition
Visually arresting and formally inventive,
many new admirers.
of the main work, although they’re attrac-
concerned with that very notion – the
these are artists to watch. Admission:
Admission: free. Info: 029 2064 1441
tive pieces nonetheless.
dissimilarities of life. Admission: free. Info:
free. Info: 029 2065 0016 / www.bayart.
Admission: free. Info: 029 2071 2100 / (HDJ)
01633 656675 / (AP) (RG)
OCTOBER2008.indd 40 25/9/08 3:24:00 pm
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