Wednesday, 1 January 2014

'The Wolves are Running' at Oriel Wrexham

Here's a few shots of my work in the exhibition 'The wolves are running' in Oriel Wrexham, absolutely thrilled and honoured to be a part of this amazing exhibition, there's still a few days left to see the show, here's a little information from the galleries website below:

“The wolves are running” is a line taken from John Masefield’s The Box of Delights, first published in 1935. Master Kay Harker is coming home for the holidays when he meets an old Punch and Judy man, Cole Hawlings, who gives him a magical box that allows him to shrink, fly, and go swift, and so a series of adventures begins. I first became aware of the story in 1984 when I watched a BBC adaptation of the book. The title music for this, and the 1943 Children’s Hour version, was from The Carol Symphony (1927) by Victor Hely-Hutchinson, a wonderfully festive string version of the First Noel. What I like about the Box of Delights is that it plays with symbols, sacred and profane, resulting in a coming together of forces to bring light to the darkness of winter.

For this exhibition the team at Oriel Wrecsam have invited some of our favourite artists, illustrators, makers & craftspeople to explore a magical mixed-media, multi-art form extravaganza of seasonal delights.

We hope you enjoy our Winter Exhibitions and feel inspired by the magic, the folklore,the stories and imagination. As the classic Welsh children’s book by Moelona, Teulu Bach Nantoer, first published in Wrexham 100 years ago, begins, “It was a cold and wintry night. Outside the wind howled and the rain poured but inside the cosy Nantoer home the fire smiled happily and a warm glow surrounded the family sat beside it.”

While you are visiting the exhibition, which is complemented by the wonderful “and Also” of contemporary illustrators, why not visit the BFI Mediatheque in Wrexham Library and watch Lotte Reiniger’s paper cut animated Father Christmas advert for the GPO (General Post Office) from the 1930s, Angela Carter’s dark and mysterious Magic Toyshop from 1987, or The Grey Rabbit Bournville film from 1921. BFI Mediatheque is the place to make new discoveries and get reacquainted with old favourites. Simply log on at a viewing station and enjoy highlights from the BFI National Archive,the world’s greatest and most diverse collection of film and television, free of charge.

The Artists:

Rosemary Sharman’s work features a group of inherited Beatrix Potter figurines. These small ceramic models take on a sinister air, a foxy looking gentleman is all charm and sophistication but beware! Melanie Tomlinson’s piece, Cunning Little Vixen, reminds me of vintage tin toys. Her stunning and stealthy fox sneaks around, looking shiftily to see who’s observing her.

There is theatre in Ann McKay’s paintings, as though the characters are acting out some kind of drama. The fairy tale lightness of touch could equally have a dark magic. The Queen of the Night may at any moment appear. Paul Bommer’s work is graphic, like posters for a circus or fair. His tattooed man is strong, like a sideshow attraction. His work is reminiscent of the hand drawn and rendered designs associated with Pollock’s Toy Theatres, which were popular in the Victorian era. His unique style is joyful and exuberant.

Barry Morris and Louise Payne both present works that contain birds, as does Julia Jowett. In Morris’ work the thief of the bird world, the Magpie, appears. He is, like the fox, a scoundrel,but beautifully drawn. One for Sorrow, Two for Joy, Three for a girl, Four fora boy, Five for silver, Six for gold, Seven for a Secret never to be told. This rhyme, dating from the 1790s, also features in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novel Carpe Jugulum. The magpie is considered a symbol of ill omen, there is one in Piero della Francesca’s Nativity in London’s National Gallery, perhaps representing the sorrow of the Virgin Mary, but magpies are also renowned for their incessant chattering call so it could be that the occasion has silenced him. Louise Payne’s birds are incredibly well-observed, she says “I love nature. Just by being in nature and listening and loving I experience realisations and guidance”. What can animals teach us? Of course they can teach us so much. There is an animal inside us all. We might eat like a bird, or a pig, be loyal like a puppy or wild like a tiger. So often we make these links and connections. Julia Jowett mixes childhood storytelling and imagination in her work, which uses wire, pencil and stitch inspired by folktales. 

Willie Carter and Ian Gregory both make ceramic animals. Carter’s life story is a tale in itself. Originally from Wick in the far north of Scotland, he went on to become a chef with Anton Mosimann in London, before reading about ceramics in a copy of Time Out. He began a pottery evening class in and has never looked back. Both artists’ free flowing representations of animals capture a spontaneous spirit. 

Sally Weatherill’s textile birds draw on a rich folk tradition. Her owls remind me of the designs on the plates in Alan Garner’s The Owl Service, which itself draws on The Mabinogion in which the mythical Blodeuwedd is created from flowers by Math and Gwydion, for a man cursed to take no human wife. She betrays that husband Lleu in favour of another man, Gronw, and is turned into an owl as punishment for inducing Gronw to kill Lleu. This perhaps links to Vanessa Conyers work which features themagical beauty of flowers and butterflies.

Jessie Chorley, Jennifer Collier and Becky Adams’ work looks to the past,to a homespun telling of tales by the fireside. They are nostalgic. Chorley’s work feels like the pages of her books have come to life. She creates beautiful objects that have a warmth and homemade quality to them. Collier’s work is literally made from the folk stories of Wales, stitched from pages of old books. Adams creates delicate objects utilising the idea of make do and mend.

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