Flora at Oriel Myrddin Gallery examines Flowers as a contemporary motif. The exhibition presents new and existing work by key national and international artists, which offer a refreshed perspective on the subject of the flower in art.

The use of botanical imagery in painting was widely utilised in fifteenth and sixteenth century paintings; painters became interested in the realistic depiction of objects from the natural world. Plants and flowers usually had a symbolic meaning that related to the subject of the painting. At this time particularly exotic plants and species represented money, affluence and foreign travel and graced stately homes, particularly in the Netherlands.

Emma Bennet’s piece is strikingly similar to that of Dutch renaissance paintings. The black background places the flowers in a ‘non-space’, offering us no clue into the context of the flowers. The technique of painting also echoes this style.

As viewers of the exhibition we were invited to write a memory of a flower on a piece of card, (Clare Twomey) and take with you your own ceramic flower. Flowers can be deeply embedded in memory, often recurring as gifts in our home, or decorative displays. Flowers might be seen as having feminine connotations; they often recur in Ritualistic acts. Flowers are also utilised as a symbol of sympathy at funerals, and similarly are held in the hands of a bride, and thrown to a bridesmaid as a wish for herself to be married. The piece held a compassionate relationship with all those who wrote their memory on the card; resurfacing old memories and how a flower can be couched in such emotions.

The act of writing a memory on card was emotive and delicate, and manifested itself in the form of cards and small ceramic flowers strewn around the gallery floor. It was enjoyable to walk in and see this social experiment, and to take home a memory from this.

After visiting the exhibition, we not only question the flower’s powerful representation in art, but in everyday life. Flora delves deeper into both these ideas.

 

Eleni Foundoukis – October 2015

Eleni is a volunteer with Oriel Myrddin Gallery contributing to the critical discourse of the gallery.

Richard Slee’s postmodern artworks in the exhibition Work and Play at Oriel Myrddin are tactile, humorous and Disney-like. I can imagine these in a comic YouTube video, a man playing a prank trying to use one of these hammers in a DIY home experiment and then the hammer smashing into thousands of pieces. However, there is also an inherent sadness to the works; a Tatlin and Malevich-esque plane that will not fly, functional objects not operating as they should which challenges us to view the scooters, spades and other objects as works of art.

The exhibits are displayed in a seductive way. We are able to see them close up but at the same time there is the frustration of not being able to touch. Could they be smooth, could they be coarse, or could they bounce out of your hands off the table and smash into cubes?

The works share similar concerns with Jeff Koon’s sculptural structures, and how both Slee and Koons mirror a consumerist landscape through these somehow distorted pieces, that re contextualise everyday manufactured objects. During Slee’s talk at Oriel Myrddin I recall him mentioning the ‘real value’ of things, after which he talked about the golden spade with diamante, Dust 2010, then quickly onto highlighting the current economical situation in Greece.

Whilst studying at Central School (now Central Saint Martin’s) Slee mentioned that there was a great interest in 18th century English traditions amongst staff and senior lecturers. Slee harks back to the period of the 1740’s when many of the major factories were at the zenith of their production, such as Wedgewood, Weldon and Spode. He was interested in re-visiting and re-interpreting the original techniques used in production, some of which are still used in Stoke-on-Trent, but are slowly dying out altogether.

Much of Slee’s interest in objects and ornamentation developed from growing up in the 1950’s and his mother’s interest in Danish furniture design and utility furniture. At this time design was heavily influenced by developments in science, space travel and the atomic bomb. The bright primary palette of the objects in the exhibition echoes the homeware and ceramics from that time. Emily King states in the book, Mass Production “There is a cultural relationship with the products Slee makes, working with and against traditional objects.”

Slee’s artworks in Work and Play are not only engaging but visually delightful, comic objects that embody a history of British culture.

 

Eleni Foundoukis 2015

Eleni is a volunteer with Oriel Myrddin Gallery contributing to the critical discourse of the gallery.

After visiting the recent ‘Drawing 2015’ exhibition at Oriel Myrddin, I was left questioning the act of drawing and the relationship it has with our senses. When I was a child, drawing was an impulsive yet meditative activity; impulsive as a direct response to my surroundings, circumstances and interests and what I sensed from these elements. I often sat at the kitchen table quietly drawing alone or with my brother during evenings after school. In many respects this could have been termed a collaborative process as the resulting dialogue between us would spark ideas and thoughts for even more comic and wild imaginings that manifested themselves onto paper.

The artist Jane Grisewood, in her essay ‘The Sense of Drawing’, discusses performance drawing and its relationship to time and how this could further our understanding of the notion of time and drawing. From what I observed in the exhibition the works seemed to have a running narrative thread of drawing and its relationship to time, landscape and youth. ‘I am attracted by the ambiguity of this unexpected and inappropriate line, by the longing and aggression in the words’ as the writer and film-maker Patrick Keiller states in ‘The View from the Train – Cities and Other Landscapes’ (2013). I am interested in these connections.

I noticed this in Abigail Sidebotham’s video piece ‘Brother’, where she re-enacts a scene from her youth in which she and her brother engaged in an apparently comical activity of drawing on the sole of her foot. She directly examines the paradoxes of intimacy, pain, aggression, sibling relationships and drawing via a historic and current collaborative process. Jane Grisewood also addresses how the dynamics of artists collaboratively working together could further our understanding of drawing.

‘The duration and experience of time through the act of drawing provided a sense of movement alongside time, always embodying an action, absent from a past or future, or a beginning or an end.’ – ARC: I Draw for You (2010)

The act of drawing can trigger nostalgia and takes us to imaginary realms full of potential and possibility. It’s relationship with time remains ambiguous, a concept to be explored.

‘Drawing // Lluniadau 2015’ at Oriel Myrddin Gallery is running until 20th June 2015.

 

Eleni Foundoukis 2015

Eleni is a new volunteer with Oriel Myrddin Gallery contributing to the critical discourse of the gallery.

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