Emrys Parry – Artist – Great Yarmouth.
Emrys Parry is photographed in his Great Yarmouth studio and with fellow artists in the studio of Greek Cypriot John Kiki, at a weekly event over a glass of Scottish malt, where I was joined by my son Evan, who took the photograph. John Kiki lived for some time in Cardiff, where he has family were. So I will post an entry later.
Emrys Parry was born in 1941 and lived in Nefyn on the llyn, Peninsular, he went to Pwllheli Grammar school where he was inspired and influenced by the teacher of art Elis Gwyn Jones, he graduated from Leicester college of Art before leaving to teach in Norfolk.
I first discovered the work of Emrys Parry during a visit to the Plas Glyn y Weddw Gallery at Llanbedrog on the Llyn Peninular in North Wales, a series of beautifully crafted expressive landscapes drawn in charcoal. To my surprise I discovered after talking to the curator, that this most Welsh of Artists lived in Norfolk. On a subsequent visit to his studio in Great Yarmouth, it was manifest to me that Parry was one of Wales’s most gifted iconographic painters. It is perhaps his isolation in exile away from his beloved homeland that gives hid narrative pictures their power. They echo the longing of his historically suppressed language, culture and community with a patriotic desire for nationhood. These are not the icons degraded by commerce like the red dragon. Twisted and caricatured on travel brochures and T-shirts, Parry has created his own language of signs drawn from our Celtic inheritance. These thickly painted canvases transcend and evolve across the boundaries of Wales being equally effective in his adopted Norfolk home.
Many artists that I meet and photograph become friends, so the fact that my son lived in Great Yarmouth was a reason to visit Emrys. He often said how he would like his work to be better known in Wales, Sir Kyffin Williams had already put his name forward to become a member of the Royal Cambrian Academy. So I suggested that he send a couple of drawings to the National Library of Wales. The newly appointed National librarian Andrew Green, saw the drawings and asked if they had held an exhibition of the work of Emrys Parry. So Emrys had his one-man show in the beautiful Gregynog Gallery, The Library acquired some work, and a television programme followed on, and my friend had achieved his ambition
Bernard Mitchell. 2020.
Ron McCormick – ‘How Green Was My Valley’.
Newport Museum and Art Gallery. September 2019.
They were hanging the exhibition the day before it opened. So I took the opportunity to meet and Photograph Ron McCormick before the crowds made it impossible, and he kindly gave me the time in his busy schedule.
Ron McCormick was born in Liverpool, and first studied art at The Liverpool College of Art and The Royal Academy Schools, London, before switching to photography. After a long career in photography he came to the University of Wales College Newport as Senior Lecturer in Documentary Photography with the founder of the first degree course David Hurn, in 1966. I wish now that I had waited a year, because I started a general course in Photography at the Berkshire College of Art in Reading in 1965.
Bernard Mitchell 2020
Anja Stenina – G.S.Artists Gallery. – ‘You Know What I Mean’.
Anja Stenina is from Riga Latvia, she is Conceptual Artist who has been studying for a Research Masters at the Swansea College of Art.
‘You Know What I Mean’
Her exhibition at the G.S. Artists Gallery in High Street, Swansea ,needs more than a few still photographs to do it justice.
The gallery was lit in a low blue light that echoed its nautical theme, two flat screens played on opposite walls, on one a lady danced in the surf on the other a sailor in a fish mask danced across a flat roof to the song ‘ What should we do to the Drunken Sailor’ on a loop. On the end wall were script messages for example. ‘There is no such thing as justifiable violence’ and ‘ Informed consent is an uncrossable barrier’ which brought a strangely serious message to what had begun as just ironic humour.
Glynn Vivian Gallery – Frances Richards – An Artist Apart.
It is very unusual for me to visit an exhibition three times, but that is what happened when I saw for the first time the work of Frances Richards who was married to Ceri. I visited their home in Edith Grove, London, in 1966. I know now what I had missed, for she was not around, and I was only too pleased to be spending time and photographing the artist I most admired.
Frances was born in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent in 1901, studied at the Burslem School of Art and won a scholarship to the Royal College of Art where she met Ceri Richards.
She became Head of Design at Camberwell and taught at Chelsea School of Art. She lived in London until her death in 1985.
Her beautiful intricately embroidered pictures were both lyrical and symbolic in their mood. Shortly before Ceri’s death she worked on a series of unique images of elongated female forms and children set in a dream-like landscape of solitude. She had many friends who were artists and poets, one remarked, “ Ceri is a major talent, but you are a minor genius”, but like Ceri she was a quiet, modest and self confident lady.
the mother stands
the child also
the flowers with them
the same. Flowers
children and mothers;
appearing and remaining
returning and standing
waiting. What for?
it is a mystery
and will remain so.
I would like to thank Mel and Rhiannon Gooding for the extracts from their lovely catalogue.
Bernard Mitchell. 2020.
Glynn Vivian Gallery – Karen MacKinnon – Swansea Stories.
The best Swansea Story, is that we have a brand new fully functioning, modern and as beautiful as ever Glynn Vivian Art Gallery. It’s like a breath of fresh air, not only do we have our new curator Karen Mackinnon, a staff who are proud and only to willing to help, social events of an evening, and a café where I am seen meeting my friends for a rather nice coffee. I visited the Frances Richards exhibition three times, it was a joy to see her delicate work, I made a Christmas card of her Angels. So thank you Mel Gooding for letting us see the work of the lady I never met, when visiting Edith Grove to photograph her husband Ceri Richards. An artist whose work I admired and discovered as a young man in the Glynn Vivian Gallery.
The exhibition ‘Swansea Stories’ perhaps one of the largest ever put on in the Glynn, was a very clever way of showing the wealth of the permanent collection, as well increasing the footfall. Many the pictures from the storerooms, that had not been seen for some time, and so many new discoveries and old favourites. One, almost monochrome oil high up on the wall in the main gallery, made me take to the photocopied list. Yes, as I suspected it was an early Glenys Cour (The Pool, Cefn Bryn, 1963) and what a complete change from the colours we expect to see in a Glenys Cour. The exhibition included to my surprise, tucked away in an alcove in the atrium, two of my early portraits of those two friends from Neath and Ystradgynlais, Will Roberts and Josef Herman.
Let us hope that we can see it once more when this lock down, virus thing has gone and I can go again to meet my friends for a coffee and see an exhibition at the Glynn.
Bernard Mitchell. June 2020.
Elysium Gallery and Bar.
Those were the days when you could rest your arms on your favourite bar the only one in town with its own art gallery. I only wish this Corvid 19 virus would go away and we could all return and join Elysium Gallery Director Jonathan Powell. It’s your round Johnathan!
G.S. Artists Gallery – Dragon’s Revenge – Jamie Reid
This was my first visit to the G.S. Artists Gallery in High Street, in Swansea, the home for progressive artist and I wish I had found it before.
The first time I took a photograph off a television screen, was on the editors television, the only one in the office ‘The First Steps For Mankind’ was the headline, half of the front page, a blurry pic, but I was there! As Max Boyce once said.
The second time that I took a televised portrait, was of the punk pop-art, artist and anarchist Jamie Reid, he was not in the gallery at the moment.
Jamie Reid was born in London in 1947 and one of his best known works is the Sex Pistols Album ‘Never mind the Bollocks, Here are the Sex Pistols’, (words: Tate Modern). He now lives in Liverpool, the second capital of Wales, so that might explain ‘Dragon’s Revenge’. Looking after the exhibition was G.S. Artist Abigail Fraser.
Refuge and Renewal – Royal West of England Academy – Peter Wakelin
A day return on the train from Swansea to Temple Meads, was an excuse to visit for the first time The Royal West of England Academy (RWA) in Bristol, and what a treat it was. I could not help but photograph this elegant building, how galleries used to look, but with a modern twist.
I had travelled to see ‘Refuge and Renewal’, curated by Peter Wakelin. The most interesting exhibition I have seen this year and certainly my book of the year. Peter Wakelin has used his wealth of knowledge to share with us the neglected history of the refugee artists who where given shelter in Britain and in particular Wales, in the periods during and after the First and Second world War, and the Russian occupation of the Eastern European Countries.
Of special interest to me, Peter talked of a painting by Josef Herman, of his family home in Warsaw, soon after he had learned of their death. Josef, sat at his easel, mother washing the cloths, father cobbling and his grand father at prayer (Peter’s words) What struck me were the colours just brown, blue and white, such emotion, one of Josef’s finest pictures.
After Bristol, the exhibition went to MOMA Wales, in Machynlleth, however the gallery closed due to the tragic Corvid 19 virus epidemic, but all is not lost we have the book and Culture Colony, Wales made a film of Peter’s talk at the RWA, which you can see on their website
Bernard Mitchell January 2020.
Welsh and Romanian Surrealism at the Senedd, Cardiff Bay.
You could say that it was a Surreal Event at the Sennedd in November 2019.
Artist John Welson from Fishguard in Pembrokeshire and George Ostafi, the Romanian Surrealist who sadly passed away before the exhibition. In the picture are John Welson, left, and the Welsh Surrealist poet David Greenslade, wrote a poem as a tribute to George, in the background Artist Ivor Davies.
Paul Peter Piech Exhibition
Here is a small treat for those of you that missed one of the smallest but most important exhibitions that has been held at the National Library of Wales for a long time, The original Linocuts and prints and in some cases the relevant text by the artist Paul Peter Piech. Bravo NLW! And just before the terrible virus closed us all down.
Photography Season, National Museum of Wales, Cardiff – November 2019.
Bronwen Colquhoun Senior Curator of Photography has not just achieved one exhibition, but has created three galleries full of photographs, sadly cut short by the arrival of Corvid 19. This must be a first for the National, things were looking good when we had one designated gallery to the photographers art.
Martin Parr in Wales, August Sander and Industrial Visions by Bern and Hilla Becher. We arrived in time to hear Bronwen Colquhoun’s talk on the Martin Parr in Wales.
Martin Parr is based in Bristol, but now travels to a holiday home in Tenby, just the place for a man who excels in beach photography. Two things were apparent, the miners in the pithead baths, have been a subject of photographers from the days of tin baths in the kitchen and the display of still life photographs of food, neglected to show the fine cuisine and local produce that make up the Principality today.
Industrial Visions, showed the dedicated vision of Bern and Hilla Becher to document the Winding Towers of the coal mines which were part of the every village in the South Wales Valleys. Each one of a slightly different construction, now saved for posterity, after the devastation of the demolition carried out a plan destroy the Coal Industry by Margaret Thatcher and her government.
Sadly time passes and we could not give justice to August Sander.
Rest in Peace Dear Malcolm , Poet, Translator and Teacher!
Malcolm Parr was one of the original core members of a group of Artists and Writers etc who met at the Westbourne Hotel in Swansea every Tuesday evening without fail . We talked of art and poetry and putting Wales on the map of the World, exhibitions were organised in Prague and the Czech Republic, Bruges, and Swansea, but the last one was at the Queens Hall Gallery in Narberth. My last trip with Malcolm, Keith Bayliss and Jeff Towns, was to London, to celebrate the life of Alfred Janes at the Royal Institution, but first it was to Malcolm’s favourite seller bar for a glass of candle lit dry sherry. Many will remember his readings at the Dylan Thomas Centre, packed with his wit and humour. At his wake at the No Sign Bar, poems were read by some of his fellow poets, David Greenslade, David Woolley and David Thomas, January 2020.