Friday, 26 February 2010


ROLL UP ROLL UP. I have some exciting news.
Elysium Gallery,  the fantastic artist-led space at 41 High Street, Swansea is moving to bigger and better things. From this weekend the artspace as you know it will be closing down and hopping over to set up a top new creative space in a former brothel on Mansel Street, Swansea.
The two floor space which has entertained high street drinkers and arty thinkers alike with its mix of site-specific installation and out-there performance art alongside more traditional forms is expanding. The new Elysium Gallery will live at 96 – 97 Mansel Street, Swansea, SA1 5UE, and will host 20+ artist studios in the “strange smaller upstairs rooms” as well as exhibitions and an artist hub space with internet access and library resources. Exactly what Swansea needs, especially with the imminent refurbishment of the Glynn Vivian taking their resources out of the picture frame for a while.
As such this week marks your last chance to go along and catch some art at the original Elysium Gallery. Go see Dialogues: A Fake Romance?, the innovative multi-media group show curated by Diana Ali that closes tomorrow. Film, photography and interactive projects ask whether dialogue hinders us or furthers us? Then, suitably inspired, start thinking about what you can enter into the extravaganza of an opening show for Elysium (Take Two). This will be the only time an exhibition uses all three floors of the new space before the top two floors are divided up into artist studios available to let. Exciting, no?
I have been attacked by lurgy so I’m afraid I’m taking the lazy blogger route today and letting the gallery explain what they are after in submissions for the show… Here is their shout out to creative types, word-for-word:
Ten years ago the influential art critic and author Arthur Danto announced that art had ended in the sixties. For Danto, the art that emerged after this had lost its spirit and its purpose. The past was no longer a place from which to react against, art no longer had to pit an agenda or conform to a certain aesthetic. The meta-narrative was over and so was arts’ significance and influence.
Philosophical questions abound! If you listen to some, art is now a post-modern, soul-less shadow of its former modernist self. No longer pushing boundaries and rejecting the past, it now just regurgitates past ideas and movements and relies on irony, cheap laughs, gimmicks and an obsession with trashy celebrity culture to get by… The School of Saatchianyone?

“The end?”
Elysium Gallery is looking for submissions exploring the notion of ‘After the end’
  • What happens to the characters of a film when it has ended?
  • What happens to a house after the lights have gone out and everyone has left?
  • Memories become more distant everyday and so history dies everyday…what happens after the end?
We are looking for national & international artists working in any medium from painting, performance & sculpture to written word, film, song, installation and anything in between.
This will be the first exhibition in the new home of Elysium Gallery and will be the only time we will be using all three floors in this massive building before the top 2 floors are carved up into artists’ studios. The building is currently a maze of large open spaced areas and small rooms with a mixture of flocked wall paper and layers of paint and decoration from over the years covering the walls.
You can download an application form from our website or email Jon at for a form and any further information if you require.
Dates of exhibition: 14th May – 11th June
Deadline for submissions: 30th April
Thanks Elysium! So what are you waiting for? Get involved!
And finally, as I have been knocked out with flu, I also failed to write up the brilliant, heartbreaking, FREE screening of Swansea Love Story at Sin City last Friday. Mike Leigh’s son Leo Leigh is certainly one to watch in future cinema. Alongside Andy Capper he captured the reality between Swansea’s rising heroin problem pretty damn well by asking everyone from users, to drug treatment centres, kids on the streets, working men clubs and male voice choirs. It centres on the love story between Cornelius and Amy, both young alcoholic heroin users. Sensitive, socially aware film-making, it avoids the usual tabloid sensationalist spin. You can watch episodes of the film online
These reviews of the film are pretty decent too, I would have said similar, if I had been able to type:

Monday, 22 February 2010


Tom Pope, The Escapades of the Higher Man, 2009 © The Artist
The Escapades of the Higher Man: Tom Pope
Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea
Until 18 April 2010
Playful, absurd images combine performance and photography to break the shackles of gravity and social convention. Following on from previous work in which Pope is seen jumping tree-high as country strollers go about their usual business.  In this new exhibition Pope takes to the narrow French streets, the work created as part of a photography residency at the Atelier de Visu, Marseilles.
The Escapades of the Higher Man seeks to address Nietzsche’s thoughts about ‘God’s successor’ being a higher man learning to live by a new set of rules. Combining this with the influence of Yves Klein’s photograph Leap into the Void (1960, pictured right). InPope’s work the suited man is not falling but rising, from letting pedestrians walk all over him to scaling walls, throwing a bucket of water to the heavens, capturing the stream frozen mid-air with a hand-held shutter. These works have the immediacy of a snapshot, both in energy, and less fortunately, in print quality which could have been sharper.
From creative contortionist to conjurer, Pope pulls off his most impressive image; a large rug hangs mid- air seemingly by itself. It jars because it is the only image in which the artist cannot be seen. An instance where, at first we are not sure how the artist did it. Pope is in the image and yet invisible leaping from the ground behind this magic carpet masked by the shadow it casts behind him. Defying the Earth’s gravitational pull; free at last.

Friday, 19 February 2010

MS: Boutique-full, Dahling

The Mslexia Blog

Another pretty dress, another glorious party. On Wednesday it was the turn of theWelsh Women’s Press (Honno) to delight me with a bit of a do, launching their new anthology of short stories Cut on the Bias in Cardiff’s Oxfam Boutique.
It was Ladies’ Night alright: A gaggle of the glamorous and their proud others gather in the fashion store together. Glasses clink. Spirits are high. Mannequin heads with marvellous millinery gaze down at us from high pedestals. A party of designer frocks demands trying on at a later date. The star of the show, lady in red, is spread out in paperback glory near the scarlet clothes and vin rouge. In the Oxfam boutique the clothes are arranged according to colour, and the audience seems to gravitate like-to-like. The anthology editor, Stephanie Tillotson, wearing a long, tailored, mint jacket lingers near the green. Yasmin Ali, a contributor, her dark hair skimming the shoulders of a black dress with slash zip detailing, stands by with her back to black. After some time to mill, chat, browse the rails and tuck into the refreshments, the speeches begin.
Editor Stephanie Tillotson’s experience in theatre, radio and TV shows. She oozes no-nonsense confidence and style as she tells her favourite ‘knock-knock’ joke from childhood, ending with the punchline ‘Knickerless girls shouldn’t climb trees.’ ‘Why is it funny?,’ Tillotson asks. ‘Because it is naughty. I think this is why so many people entered stories into this anthology: because our relationship with clothes can be a naughty one, because clothes give shape to something that we know is there but most people don’t get to see.’
The anthology doesn’t just touch on the sensual aspects of clothes, but also on their element of disguise and empowerment. The Secretary of State fears attending an important meeting without her lucky jacket as armour in Yasmin Ali’s ‘The Lucky Jacket.’ Kerry Steed’s contribution is a tale of a first encounter when she is without her usual mask: ‘I am wearing no make-up. My hair needs washing, my clothes too. I am exhausted.’ This is not the case for the writer on the evening though, her strawberry blonde curls shine around an expressive face. She bounces with joy. It is her first short story and her first published work. The brilliantly bold Alys Conran, fellow contributor of mine for the Nu: fiction & stuff anthology last year, takes the idea of not wearing anything a bit further, setting her story – ‘Mr Price’s Summer Holiday’ –  on a nudist beach. The story itself opens with: ‘Whoopeeeeee! Naked!’
Will The Birthday Suit catch on? Former fashion editor of the Western Mail’s WM magazine, Rin Simpson knows about clothes. I spy her listening to Kerry intently, sat on the floor, her back leaning on a clothes rail, her deep red curls long and loose. Afterwards I chat to her about getting published, and working on her first novel – she is trying to master writing in the third not first person. Even after years in journalism, she hates the idea of rejection. She is excited about being a part of Cut on the Bias. Her lovely story ‘In Her Shoes,’ the title deliberately stolen, tells of a woman trying to decide what to wear to meet her birthmother. Rin reveals that she is wearing the same brown boots she describes in the story:‘I realised that much of the clothing I describe in the story is actually from my wardrobe!’ All the more reason to keep indulging in our love of clothes then, just look at the inspiration they bring…
I think I need some new shoes. They rhyme with muse, after all, and that’s close enough for me.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010


Dan Antopolski
Garage Comedy Club, Swansea.
Tue 9 Feb
The comedy night at the Garage, curated by young stand up comic Ben Jenkins (a star opener on the night), has garnered quite a following in the Uplands of Swansea, with students and locals alike. This week’s instalment was no exception. Hosted by Jongleurs Semi Finalist and Garage Comedy’s Fringe Stand Up Comp winner Simon Jones, it saw support acts from So You Think You’re FunnyEdinburgh Performer and Laughing Horse Performer Philip Cooper, Garage Comedy Competition Semi Finalist Ian Jenkins and Garage Comedy Night New Boy Dan Thomas. Of these three, it was the last to appear who shone brightest. Dan Thomas who I had recently seen at Manic Monday in Cardiff entertained again, with jokes hinged on nostalgia for childhood – George and Zippy from Rainbow, and Pac Man. The crowd approves.
The main act Dan Antopolski had a lot to live up to. His Comedy CV goes like this:
  • Winner of the BBC New Comedy Award
  • Winner of the Dave award for best joke @ 2009 Edinburgh Fringe
  • 3 times Perrier Award Nominee
  • Finalist in So You Think You’re Funny & The Daily Telegraph Open Mic Award
  • Harry Hill’s TV Burp (ITV)
  • Live Floor Show (BBC)
  • The World Comedy Tour (Comedy Central)
  • Edinburgh and Beyond (Paramount Comedy)
There is a reason people keep nominating this stand up for more than just getting the next round in at the bar. On stage Antopolski is dark, deadpan and dead daft. The weirdy beardy comic oozes a likeable edginess and confident charisma that allow him to take risks that pay off and risks that don’t and still keep the audience hanging, if occasionally confused by his bizarre twisting trains of thought. Meanders that throw out articulate asides and intelligently subversive rambles; educated and philosophically informed. Plus there are sharp witticisms, imaginative verbal pyrotechnics and quick fire gags. Often he is silly and surreal. He brings out a chart of which body parts people are most likely to laugh off, quipping: “Hitler was quite jolly until he laughed a bollock off… Women are much less likely to laugh off their genitalia, it being internal.” He’s right; instead – giggling at his set – I lose both tits. The person to my right loses their nose and left eye. Next time Antopolski plays, the venue may want to book a medic. Or hand out donor cards.
The comedy lovechild of Harry Hill and Bill Bailey (I dare you not to imagine them creating him) this man is not afraid to rap about things. Things like sandwiches. Things that make us laugh. A twisted original, I left ‘off-my-tits’ (see earlier) but smiling. Uplifted, cerebrally exercised and thoroughly entertained. More like this please.
Garage Comedy Club @ The Garage, Whitez, Uplands Crescent, Swansea happens every Tuesday night. Join the Facebook group herefor money off the door. Admission: £2 members, £3 Gen. Public, (unless specified).