Wednesday, 29 September 2010

BUZZ: FEMALE WALES | ART REVIEW



FEMALE WALES: University of Glamorgan Art Purchase Prize 2010
Until 18 October 2010 – Oriel y Bont, Ty Crawshay, University of Glamorgan, Pontypridd
★★★★☆
This University of Glamorgan’s 2010 touring exhibition has been selected by top arty in-the-know sorts including Brendan Burns, Professor Tony Curtis, Dr Anne Price-Owen, Dr Ceri Thomas and Frances Woodley. The show, curated by Dr Ceri Thomas, is based upon the theme of ‘Female Wales’ however the interpretations of this theme are varied and many.
The exhibition showcases work by the shortlisted artists eligible for the £3,000 Art Purchase Prize 2010 and those shortlisted for the £750 student prize. As such the range of the show is large. The exhibition encompasses instantly recognisable pieces by Iwan Bala – the mixed media works Hon V, Hon III and Hon XXXX in which the land mass of Wales takes centre stage as leading lady. His work draws inspiration from the 19th Century engraver Hugh Hughes Dame Wales and the sculpted maps of Bala’s late friend, Paul Davies.
Wendy Mayer’s autobiographical wax and papier-mâché sculptures consider the ageing process. Little Dancer, an 84-year-old homage to Degas, is a waist-height wizened ballerina, grey hair scraped back, hands held behind her back, lifelike eyes staring up at you. In contrast, Sarah Hope’s Cakeholic portrait (pictured) is a deliciously cheekier take on the Female Wales theme featuring the artist’s daughter having her cakes and eating them, ‘in an act of gluttony … of wanting to have it all, a compulsion to consume without discrimination.’
Of the newer recruits Tiffany Oben’s Blue Wallpaper (Tredegar House) impresses, a mixed media piece in which the sage green organza dress flows out of the photograph covered in trinkets and oddities – dolls’ heads, bottles, dried flowers, hair, moths, knife, keys and more. The things that weigh women down, or perhaps, rather than trapped in the frame, the figure is leaving the image, thus reflecting ‘the current status of woman in contemporary society faced with the potential to “have it all” in conflict with the expectations that determine her social roles.’ Elizabeth Brickell’s photographs of objects and buildings also take on new lives. She focuses on ‘the way time, dereliction and beauty can be woven together … [and] explores the disorderly aesthetics of the ruin and the relationship between object, place and person.’ Brickell captures site-specific interventions, in which she creates latex and wax casts of parts of a door, peeling wallpaper and old bottles, leaving the viewer haunted.
The 10 professionals shortlisted for the £3000 prize are Susan Adams (Brecon), Iwan Bala (Cardiff), Colin Barfoot (Swansea), Ivor Davies (Penarth), Sarah Hope (Newport, Pembrokeshire), Kunte Howell-Ojidade (Bristol), Robert Alwyn Hughes (Cheltenham), Wendy Mayer (Bangor), Paul Rees (Neath) and Philippa Robbins (Penarth).
The six students shortlisted for the £750 prize are Elizabeth Brickell (Swansea Metropolitan University), Ella Edwards (University of Wales Newport), Sian Leung (University of Glamorgan), Susan Morris (University of Glamorgan), Tiffany Oben (University of Glamorgan) and Julia Rowlands (University of Glamorgan).

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