A Visit to the Mid Wales Arts Centre

Travelling from Aberystwyth to Llandysul photographing the Welsh Group Artists Heather Eastes and Wendy Earle, I took advantage to stop at a bed and breakfast at the magnificent country house that is The Mid-Wales Arts Centre, at Caersws run by Cathy and John Knapp-Evans. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Centre currently shows work in two gallery spaces. Exhibited in an impressive sculpture barn is a tribute to the life and work of Cathy’s former husband and internationally renowned artist and sculptor Stefan Knapp (1921-1996).

Born in Poland, Stefan, was imprisoned in a labour camp in 1939, was an RAF Spitfire pilot from 1942-1945, after the war he studied at the Central School of Arts and Crafts and at Slade. At the endof a long life he completed his last murals of The Battle of Britain for Heathrow Airport and the Warsaw Metro.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also resident at the Mid-Wales Arts Centre was the film producer Richard Heeley, who was filming the making of ‘Vintage Voltage’ at nearby Newtown. So, I photographed him with John Evan’s own electric car.

 

Bernard Mitchell, 2021

Clive Hicks Jenkins

Clive Hicks-Jenkins was born in Newport, South Wales, in 1951. The early part of his career was as a choreographer and stage director. In the 1990s he turned away from theatre to concentrate on painting. He has been praised by critics in The Independent, Modern Painters and Art Review. Simon Callow has called him ‘one of the most individual and complete artists of our time’ and Nicholas Usherwood in Galleries has described his work as ‘reflective, expressive painting of the highest order.’ Here he is, photographed by myself at his latest exhibition, Adventures in Books at The Martin Tinney Gallery this week, open from the 7th-30th October. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On my travels through Wales from the Mid Wales Arts Centre in Caersws, I called in to visit Clive Hicks Jenkins and Peter Wakelin in their rural retreat near Llanilar where Clive was busy working in his attic studio.

 

 

 

 

 

Obit for Nicolas Mcdowall

It’s difficult to understand that, there will be no more trips to visit Nicolas and Frances at Catchmays Court, Llandogo, no more beautiful volumes from The Old Stile Press. To sit in rooms with every wall covered in wonderful paintings and talk of poets and artists and the next project that Nicolas was planning. I invited Steph Mastoris, Letterpress Printer and Director of the Waterfront Museum in Swansea, to visit the Old Stile Press and meet Nicolas, it was a day to remember and take my last photograph of Nicolas.

Nicolas took great care to choose the right artist for the text or poem, and here are two examples of  how that relationship between artist, writer and publisher grew.

White Voices the story of The Childrens’ Crusade by Marcel Schwab was translated from the French by Malcolm Parr with his friend  Keith Bayliss producing the powerful woodcuts. Glenys Cour was chosen because of her friendship with the poet Vernon Watkins and his wife Gwen for both Taliesin and the Mockers and Black Marigolds, using black and white images collated from cut and torn line blocks. Many other Welsh artists were recruited over the years, including Clive Hicks-Jenkins, Bert Isaac, Roberts Macdonald, Sara Philpott and John Petts whose uninked blocks, were released from the National Library for the printing of The Laugharne Poems by Dylan Thomas.

 

Bernard Mitchell, 2021

A Tribute for Josef, Malcolm and the great R.S.

Josef Janda was a Czech surrealist poet, who I met in Prague over many a beer, and Malcolm taught me English, in Swansea. So here is my tribute to the pair of friends who partied at my home in Craig Cefn Parc. Josef’s book ‘Free Style’ translated into English, by Dada ( Dagmar Stepankova, and edited by the other Welsh surrealist David Greenslade, and to round my tribute off, a print given to me by Malcolm with a poem by him for the late great R.S. Thomas, designed by the wonderful Paul Peter Piech.

Bernard Mitchell 2021

Roger Cecil, A Secret Artist

Roger Cecil, one of the Great Artists of Wales tragically passed away in 2015. As a tribute to his life and work, I would like to share with you a fine book by art historian Peter Wakelin who has recently curated Roger Cecil –  A Secret Artist which is currently open at the Brecon Museum and Gallery until the end of October 2021. 

Roger was a dear friend. Here he his is at his home and studio in Abertillery, where I photographed him on many occasions.

Roger Cecil, A Secret Artist by Peter Wakelin Published in 2017. 

 

Bernard Mitchell, 2021.

 

An Obit for Mel Gooding

I am sad to report the passing of Mel Gooding, art historian, writer and curator.

Mel Gooding

Mel was married to Rhiannon, daughter of Ceri Richards, author of the definitive volume, Ceri Richards, and curator of many exhibitions at the Glynn Vivian Gallery in Swansea.

It was a privilege to visit their home in Barnes, London, which is a treasure trove of the life and work of Ceri, transferred from his Edith Grove home and studio in Chelsea, where I photographed him in 1966. To see these images visit The Swansea Gang, in About Bernard Mitchell. 

Mel with Aeronwy Thomas, daughter of Dylan Thomas at the Glynn Vivian Gallery, Swansea, 2001. 

Cover of the book, Ceri Richards. 

Rhea Seren Phillips, Poet

Dr Rhea Seren Phillips studied for a PhD at Swansea University (2016-2020). Her research centred on the way in which the Welsh metrical tradition could be adapted to reinterpret the cultural identification of modern Wales.

Her debut collection, Grandiloquent Wretches, published by Boiled String and Hafan Books, was released in 2020. She has also published a pamphlet titled SHumbert SHumbert, published by The Literary Pocket Book (2020).

Rhea’s poetry and academic research has recently appeared in Molly Bloom, Tears in the Fence and Blackbox Manifold (2021). Previous publications (2017-2020) include: The Edge of Necessary: Welsh Innovative Poetry 1966 – 2018 published by Boiled String and Aquifer Press (October 2018), Molly Bloom, Poetry Wales , Envoi (Cinnamon Press) The Lonely Crowd, Gogoneddus Ych-a-Fi: an exhibition of work by contemporary Surrealists (Cardiff Metropolitan University, February – April 2018), The Conversation and The Luxembourg Review (2017), among other publications. She has read for Molly Bloom (2020) and Multilingual Poetry – Tears in the Fence Festival 2020. Also, she has read at The Blackbox & CP&P Reading: Welsh Innovative Poetry (2021).

SHumbert SHumbert, Rhea Seren Phillips, published by The Literary Pocket Book, 2020.

Poems by Rhea

 

Hiraeth Turned Salty in the Pharynx

They rolled Hiraeth round their mouth like needles;

earmarked it for an allied nation to

conceal in homesickness, misconstruing

a weight that tears at the ligaments of our tongue.

 

Morgen Soused Sodium Within Muscles

An omniscient voice bellowed from the scud of obscurity.

Pinched, Morgen drank the message through mutinous gills,

saw shadows of paper boats emerge from the pother

and swam up to greet the rickety old things that had soldered

iron upon themselves like starfish; broken under their battle cry,

she whispered to a caustic wind that overwhelmed them.

A smile thick as cream made them into tin-pot diving bells

as the archaic language oxidises them with salt.

 

Visual Art by Mark Sanders

This poem-collage is part of a project conceived and edited by David Greenslade, titled Imagined-Invited.  Writers were invited to compose a poem in which they invite anyone from time and space.  At least one visitor should have a connection to Wales and, ideally, another game should be mentioned.  Many were invited.  In the end twenty-one poets took part.  Participating poets came from Canada (2), Czech Republic (1), Ireland (2), France (1), Romania ((4), Wales (9) and the USA (1). Poem by Rhea Seren Phillips. The poem is a loose Villanelle. The voices are Lynette Roberts (An Argentine poet who settled in Wales and used characteristics of the Welsh metrical tradition in her poetry; Rosie who is known as her peasant friend in her poetry; and, Count Olaf from A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. The poem considers class issues.

You can follow Rhea on Twitter @rhea_seren.

 

Keith Bayliss, Visual Artist

‘Keith Bayliss ‘ work is figurative and expressive – his motif, the human figure in the landscape. He works in a variety of mediums: pencil and ink on paper, oil on canvas, relief printing and more recently, small mixed media sculptural constructions’

“Bernard turned up to take photographs of me again, as in his words “an older artist”

We first met when I was organising the first Ceri Richards Festival, I was then Community Arts Officer at the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery. Bernard was looking for an opportunity to use his photographs of Richards in his studio. The outcome was an opportunity for me to purchase, for the gallery, the photos of Richards and additional photographs of the wonderful small circle of artists and musicians associated with Dylan Thomas, who then became known as the Kardomah Gang.

Bernard’s “obsession” with the making of images of creatives, living and associated with Wales is now legendary. What many do not realise is that in his journeying through the landscape, studio to studio, Bernard has brought together artists and created opportunities.

Here he is again, this time in my kitchen, asking me what I am up to and I explain the drawings I found myself making in response to the troubles we are all sharing. I talk of an “installation” I want to create for a “Field of Souls”. Bernard immediate response was to offer ideas for who to contact and where to show. That’s Bernard.”

Words by Keith Bayliss

Swansea, September 2021

Hortus Conclusus / The Enclosed Garden by Keith Bayliss. 

You can learn more about Keith Bayliss’ practice via www.keithbayliss.co.uk

Ways of Protest, Elysium Gallery Bar, High Street, Swansea.

Ways of Protest earlier this year at the Elysium Gallery and Bar in Swansea, High Street, in partnership Swansea Museum, changemakers and Fusion. Contained artworks from over sixty Welsh and International Artists, archival  artifacts from Swansea museum, as well as memorabilia , interviews, and photographs from the public and protest groups from Swansea and Wales.

This extensive exhibition explores how the arts can be a vehicle for protest and social change. A celebration of people who have fought for social equality in Swansea and Wales.

The gallery have provided a photographic record and 360 Video tour on their website elysiumgallery.com  (exhibitions, archive )

The artworks as always were wonderful and the excellent documentary photography was memorable. Here are just a few examples.

 With over 60 artists both local and national, it was very apt in these current turbulent times. Brilliant documentary photography, including Black Lives Matter and disabled protesters in wheelchairs, marching chairs and a birthday cake for Trump you Bastard.

Bernard Mitchell 2021.

To link to a 360 degree view of the exhibition, click.

http://www.elysiumgallery.com/protest-360/index.htm

Glenys Cour MBE

For her services to the Arts in Wales, the MBE is a well deserved honour for our lovely, elegant Glenys Cour, Colourist, stained Glass Artist, Teacher, Founder member of the Mission Gallery, and Friends of the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery and at 96 years old still working every day, from her home overlooking the sea and Swansea Bay that she loves.

Bernard Mitchell 2020.

David Tress – New Works and Writings 2020

Messum’s 12 Bury Street, St. James’s, London. SW1Y 6AB.

4th to 27th November 2020.

 Because of this damn virus I can not travel to London to the opening of David Tress’s exhibition at Messum’s in St. James, London. I would love to be there. However thanks to David I have the wonderful catalogue which not only includes all the work but also his beautifully written words a must buy at only £18.00. Messum’s have done a truly magnificent effort on the design and printing.

If you live in London, it’s a must go, but if not, here are a few photographs of the catalogue to tempt you!

Roman Wall, Housteads Looking West, 2020. Watercolour and mixed media on paper. 32 by 47 cm. 2019

‘’ Love the sinuous shapes of Hadrian’s Wall as it loops up and around its high ridges of land.’’ 

– David Tress 2020


Land (Fields, Hay Tor, Dartmoor) . Mixed Media on Paper, 52 by 65 cm. 2019

www.messums.com

2020 BEEP Painting Biennial

The BEEP 2020 Biennial, at the Elysium Bar and Gallery overflowed to fill number 211 next door,

Taking some general views I managed to photograph the overall winner Rosalind Faram’s bright and fluorescent painting. Rosalind lives and works in Sussex, and we have her solo exhibition to look forward to at the Elysium Gallery in 2021.

Winner of the Friend’s of the Glynn Vivian for an Artist working in Wales was Aron Kuiper’s original work, Celfie.

My own favourite was Elinor Evan’s Cupid and Minator, I have this fixation with angels. Elinor comes originally from Wales, lives in Spain with her family and horses.

Other Elysium artists who I  photographed at the opening were;

Christy Burdock, ‘ In the Club, acrylic on Canvas.

Enzo Marra, Witch Series, enamel, hamerite, and linen.

Katie Trick, And We’d Laze for Days and Days, acrylic on canvas.

 And lastly Kena Brown with her painting of her mother and father. 

I also took a short break to add a few more Elysium studio portraits, which I shall post shortly.

Glynn Vivian Gallery Sept/Oct 2020

I visited the Glynn Vivian Gallery, last week, lots to see, just book a slot to go, here are a few notes about what’s on. Part of a series of exhibitions programmed in partnership with Swansea Pride.

Charles Atlas, ‘The Tyranny of Consciousness’.

The Tyranny  of consciousness (2017) by pioneering filmmaker and video artist, Charles Atlas, consists of a five- channel installation with a mosaic of 44 simultaneous but different sunsets accompanied by a screen bearing a countdown to darkness. It is accompanied by the legendary New York drag queen Lady Bunny, who talks about peace, life together, and how, when it comes to American politics, ‘’ the right questions are never being asked.’’

Carin Webster and Roy Efrat, ‘Pansy’.

Pansy is a collaborative commission between the two artists, which includes four works of oil painting and video mapping, exploring the complex meanings of the word ‘’Pansy’’.

Based on Franz Kafka’s 1926 novel The Castle, the work references identity, sexuality, gender and perception. Catrin is based in Swansea and Roy in London and Tel Aviv

 

Dafydd Williams, Malum.

Based in the Swansea Valley artist Dafydd Williams is interested in symbolism and technique in renaissance painting, primarily in the work of Michelangelo and Caravaggio.

The series of photographs, naturally lit, or mimicking natural chiaroscuro lighting, which are used to critique contemporary gender and sexuality.

Malum derives from the Latin for ‘apple’ and ‘evil’, refers to the historically discriminatory attitude towards sexual difference and the biblical idea of the forbidden fruit.

 

Pushing Paper, Contemporary drawing from 1970 to today.

A British Museum Touring Exhibition

 

And for something completely different.!!!!

A total of 56 works on paper from the collection of the British Museum reads like a who’s who of British Art  from Hockney to Grayson Perry with a selection from the Glynn Vivian’s own collections such as ‘ Four in a Bed’ Shani Rhys James, 1987.charcoal on paper. Definitely not to be missed.

Shani Rhys James, Four in a Bed, 1967, charcoal on paper.

Davis Nash, Wooden Boulder, 1981. Ash Tree Three clams, Crack, Grin, Chuckle.

  

David Hockney, Peter, San Fransico, 1967,ink.

 

Grayson Perry, Untitled c. 1984.

 

Ceri Richards 1903-1971

   Ceri Richards was born in 1903 in this house, the family home ‘ Preswylfa’, Fairwood Road, Dunvant. On the 16th June 2016 Swansea City Councillor Robert Francis Davies unveiled a blue plaque in honour to Swansea’s greatest artist. Prof Tim Davies of Swansea College of Art gave the speech and also present were Ceri’s daughter Rhiannon and her art historian husband Mel Gooding, author of the wonderful biography ‘Ceri Richards’

Bernard Mitchell 2020

Oriel Q  – Narberth – Jacqueline Janine Jones – Artist – Poet – Inaugural Exhibition

Harriet Addyman,Manager, Oriel Q, 11 Market Street, Narberth.

Oriel Q, 11 Market Street, Narberth.

Oriel Q,  Narberth has moved to a ground floor retail unit at 11 Market Street, Narberth.

No more stairs or lift as in the old Queen’s Hall Gallery. A total refurb to the ground floor area, with new white walls, exterior paintwork and hanging sign and ‘A’ board. The manager is Harriet Addyman. Gallery opening times are Wednesday to Saturday. 10am to 5pm. www.orielqnarberth.com

Exhibition Catalogue ‘The Socially Distanced Woman’.

Exhibition entrance

The Inaugural Exhibition ‘The Socially Distanced Woman’.

A Solo Exhibition by Jacqueline Janine Jones a member of the Welsh Group and of the Stuckist Movement. 4th September to 17th October 2020.

Jacqueline Jones was born in 1967 and grew up in rural West Wales, and went to Carmarthen Art College, Lampeter and Swansea University, recently she exhibited at the Mall Galleries in London. She describes her work as figurative, expressive. It is not without humour, but inspired by the poetry and folklore of her native West Wales. She paints, writes and every day and now lives and works in post industrial Porth in the Rhondda.

Jacqueline and entrance title board.

Jacqueline and general view of Gallery.

My work is primarily figurative, recently more narrative exploring quirky places and legends.

We are living in strange times and this has made me contemplate the role of the artist as outsider in isolation. The title to  this inaugural show at Oriel Q is a response to this.‘ The Self Isolating Woman’. My painting has many layers. The myriad layers of interpretation through both my eyes, and the vision of others.

I am an artist because I believe that artists are not satisfied with the world as they see it. They are like children, bored with the sameness, and they are moved deeply by the things they see and think about. I paint because I am compelled to. It’s like breathing air.

Once in a while we see something startling, someone whose vision, whose way of seeing is shocking and unsettling and compelling.

Jacqueline Jones

The Manor – Acrylic on Canvas

Deceptor – Acrylic on Canvas

Her work is unfiltered, bursting with life in all its obduracy, her voice is unusual and unmistakeably authentic.

Statement: Ffin y Parc Country House and Gallery, Llanrwst.

View of Gallery.

Bran – Acrylic on Canvas and Welsh Lady (right) Acrylic on Canvas.

Jacqueline Janine Jones.

Jacqueline has exhibited widley including the John Moore’s Gallery, Liverpool University and the Whitechapel Gallery, London.

‘By Invitation’ Royal Cambrian Academy,( Curated by Shani Rhys James.)

‘Oil Tanks’, Tate Modern, London.

‘Made at the Museum’ National Museum of Wales. Cardiff.

Quitas Gallery, New York.

Jacqueline Janine Jones.

                                                               The Place.

                                                   This is the place of our birth

                                              Where the clear glass of the porch

                                                Brings caged light into parlours

                                                      And qualifies this worth

 

                                        And this is the photograph on the mantle,

                                                 Celluloides absorbing so much

                                                 Are ours ours to puzzle out names,

                                              Fading and received by the hours

                                                  Ground to dust on the settle,

                                                  While the sun takes reception

                                              Through a blue otherness of panes             .

 

                                                    And this is the carpet, frayed

                                               By the courteous steps of time’s lurch

                                                That hesitates, yet will not be delayed,

                                               And this is the place that holds a furniture

                                               Arranged as a family set in contemplation,

                                          This is the place, and room, design of their nature.

                                                              Jacqueline Janine Jones.

David Tress 2020

Museum’s Fine Art, St James, London. November 7th – November 27th

David Tress in the studio, Haverfordwest, 2001

David Tress, ‘Land and Sea (Winter Spring)’, mixed media on paper, 52x64cm, 2018

David Tress drawings, photographed by Bernard Mitchell.

Brecknock Museum and Art Gallery, September 19th 2003.

Read the full story here.

Found Gallery, Brecon – The Welsh Group 2020. 19th  August – 13th September 2020

2020 Exhibition Card.

Brecon is a lovely town, but did  it rain, but it was all worth while to meet my friends David Moore, writer on the arts in Wales & curator and Sue Hiley Harris artist and chair of the Welsh Group, at the Found Gallery in Brecon.

Punch Maughan owner of The Found Gallery, Brecon.

The Found Gallery, 1 Bulwark,  Brecon, opposite the Town Museum, is hosting a group exhibition of The Welsh Group titled  2020. Works created to a specific size 20 cm by 20cm created during the  lockdown by twenty nine members of the Group.

Sue Hiley Harris – ‘Growth’, Chair of The Welsh Group.

Sue Hiley Harris, ‘Growth’ and view of 2020.

The Gallery is run by ‘Punch’ Maughan and is well worth a visit, with its excellent combination of paintings, sculpture and ceramics.

Jacqueline Alkema

Sue was recording a short talk for the Gallery web site. But was also exhibiting some of her, expressive drawings on the pandemic theme ‘Spaced Apart 1 & 2 ‘ and delicate silver wire sculptures, of the roots of trees suspended in the air. ‘Growth 1, 11, 111 and 1V’.

Heather Eastes.

Gus Payne and Jennifer Allan (left).

The artists taking part were, Heather Eastes, Jennifer Allan, Thomasin Toohie, Jacqueline Alkema, Paul Brewer, Lorna Edmiston, Dilys Jackson, Angela Kingston, Chris Griffin, Karin Mear, Gerda Roper, Anthony Evans, Shirley Anne Owen, Philippine Sowerby, Jacqueline Jones, Lynnne Bebb, Sue Hiley Harris, Kay Keogh, Robert Harding, Wendy Earle, Ken Dukes, Robert Macdonald, Gus Payne, Roy Powell, Sue Roberts, Antonia Spowers, Paul Edwards, Jean Walcot, Veronica Gibson.

Bernard Mitchell 2020

Robert Minhinnick – Poet – Novelist – Translator

Robert Minhinnick was born in Neath in 1952 and graduated from Aberystwyth and Cardiff Universities. Wales’ leading poet, novelist, translator and environmentalist. He has been awarded three ‘Wales Book of the Year’ in 1993,2006, 2018, Two Forward Prizes for individual poems, founded Friends of the Earth Cymru (Wales) and Sustainable Wales.

He is photographed here at the launch of his recent book of poetry, in March 2019,  ‘Dunes’ at Cover to Cover Books in Newton Road, Mumbles with artist Daniel Llewelyn Hall, who made the paintings for the book.

www.serenbooks.com

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.