Cymhorthdal Cronfa Ymsefydlogi Cyngor Celfeddydau Cymru / Arts Council of Wales Stabilisation Fund grant

July 19th, 2020

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Gorffenaf 19, 2020

Ddiolchar ofnadwy (ac yn hynnod o falch) fod Cyngor Celfeddydau Cymru drwy Gronfa Loteri Cenedlaethol wedi fy ddyfarnuwyd a cymorthdal Cronfa Ymsefydlogi.

Gyda’r pandemig Coronafeirws yn creu adflonyddwch ag ansicrwydd ar draws byd y celfeddydau, mae’n hanfodol i lawer o artistiaid ailystyried arferion gwaith ac, lle mae’n bosib addasu i newid amgylchiadau a paratoi i’r dyfodol. Sefydlwyd y Gronfa Ymsefydlogi i gefnogi sefydliadau a unigolion drwy’r broses hwn.

Drwy weithio gyda Ballet Cymru rwyf yn hynnod o ffodus cael cefnogaeth gan y sefydiad ar dawnswyr, trwy eu positifrwydd a dyfeisgarwch maent yn galluogi i mi gynnal fy swydd fel arlynudd preswyl, hyd yn oed pan fod llawer o’r rhaglen 2020 wedi’w atal ac fod gweithgareddau arall wedi newid yn sylweddol. Yn y blynyddoedd diwethaf rwyf wedi creu lluniau sydd yn ymateb i ymarferion cwmni a perfformiadau, yn ogystal a gwaith wedi’w ddatblygu drwy gydweithrediad uniongyrchol gyda unigolion neu grwpiau bach o ddawnswyr, nawr gan fod dim ymarferion nag perfformiadau yn digwydd a gyda’r dawnswyr gartref – yng Nghymru ac ymhellach i ffwrdd – rwyf wedi gorfod ailassesu natur fy ngwaith yn llwyr. Dwi’n hapus i ddeud, drwy drafodaethau ac arbrofion gyda dawnswyr presennol a cyn-ddawnswyr Ballet Cymru mae syniadau diddorol iawn wedi’w ymddangos.

Dros y misoedd i ddod, bydd cymorth Cyngor Celfeddydau Cymru yn galluogi i mi archwylio dulliau newydd i gydweithio gyda’r dawnswyr, i adeiladu yn uniongyrchol ar fy ngwaith or gorffenol, ond nawr yn symud i mewn i ‘ofodau rhithwir’ drwy Zoom a cyfryngau digidol, fydd y dawswyr yn medry gwithio ynghyd o bell. Fy ngobaith yw fydd y llyniau fyddwn ni yn ei greu yn adlewyrchu ac yn ymateb i’r amgylchiadau rhyfeddol rydem ni i gyd yn byw drwy – yn arbennig y ffenomen chwilfrydig o fobol yn dod ynghyd gan rhannu profiad o fod ar wahân, rwyf yn teimlo sydd yn thema ddiddorol i’w archwylio – drwy ddathlu naws a creadigrwydd y dawnswyr eu hunain, fel mae nw’n rhannu ac yn datblygu syniadau, ac yn gwithio ar eu coreograffeg eu hynnain.

Fydd y cymorthdal hefyd yn galluogi i mi weithio eto gyda Alastair Sill o Word of Mouth, i ailymweld a gweithgareddau a’i datblygwyd flwyddyn diwethaf i gymorth ymgysylltiad y dall a rhannol ddall gyda’r celfeddydau weledol, sydd yn gyffroes iawn i mi.

Diolch y fawr i Cyngor Celfeddydau Cymru, Ballet Cymru, ac y dawnswyr i gyd sydd yn cynorthwyo gyda’r gwith. Fydd y wybodaeth ddiweddaraf yn cael ei bostio yma a drwy cyfrifion cyfryngau digidol. Synniadau, adborth, safbwyntiau ac y y blaen yn groeso.

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Very grateful (and relieved) to have been awarded a Stabilisation Fund grant through the Arts Council of Wales’s National Lottery Fund.

With the Covid-19 pandemic creating such acute disruption and uncertainty across the arts, it has been essential for many artists to reconsider their working practices and, as far as is possible, adapt to changing circumstances and prepare for the future. The Stabilisation Fund was established to support organisations and individuals through this process.

Working with Ballet Cymru I’m extremely fortunate to have the support of an organisation and dancers whose positivity and resourcefulness is enabling me to maintain my role as artist in residence, even as much of their planned 2020 programme is suspended and other activities significantly changed. For the past few years I have created pictures which respond to company rehearsals and performances, as well as pieces developed through more direct collaboration with individuals or small groups of dancers, though with no rehearsals or performances now taking place, and dancers mostly at home – both in Wales and further afield – I’ve had to completely reassess the nature of my work. Happily, through discussions and experiments with current and past Ballet Cymru dancers, some very interesting ideas have begun to emerge.

Over the coming months, Arts Council of Wales funding will enable me to explore new approaches to collaborating with dancers, building directly on my past work, though now moving into ‘virtual spaces’, via Zoom and other digital media, through which dancers may work together remotely. My hope is that the pictures we make will reflect and respond to the extraordinary circumstances we are all living through – particularly the curious phenomenon of people being brought together by the shared experience of being kept apart, which I feel is a fascinating theme to explore – though also celebrate the spirit and creativity of the dancers themselves, as they share and develop ideas, and work to their own choreography.

Funding will also enable me to work again with Alistair Sill of Word of Mouth, revisiting activities developed last year to support blind and partially-sighted people’s engagement with visual art, which I’m very excited about.

Many thanks to Arts Council of Wales, Ballet Cymru, and to all the dancers supporting this work. Updates will be posted here and through my social media accounts. Thoughts, feedback, criticism, etc, very welcome.

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Art on a Postcard fundraiser for the Royal Cambrian Academy of Art

July 9th, 2020

Very happy to support the Royal Cambrian Academy of Art’s forthcoming fundraiser, which will launch on July 18th.

The RCA is Wales’s membership body for painters, sculptors, printmakers and architects, and under normal circumstances hosts a wide variety of exhibitions, lectures, concerts, and other cultural/education events throughout the year – all of which are currently suspended.

Works by Academy members will be auctioned anonymously, with the identities of artists revealed at the conclusion of the event. I’ll be contributing a small oil painting.

For further information about the RCA and future announcements about the fundraiser, please see here.

UPDATE

July 19th. Auction now live, ending August 8th at 2pm. Please see here.

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Art on a Postcard fundraiser for Mind's Coronavirus National Appeal

June 17th, 2020

These little drawings of Erin and Joe (Ballet Cymru rehearsal 219 and 220) were made for the Art on a Postcard project being run by the Josef Herman Art Foundation in aid of the mental health organisation Mind. Many artists will be contributing pieces – drawings, poems, paintings, collages, or whatever else can be presented on an A6/A5 card – and all will be distributed by lottery for £25 (or whatever donation) a pop.

I worked closely with Mind on a number of projects during my earlier career in the UK homelessness sector, and I’m very happy to support the organisation now. They do tremendous work, which has never been more important than it is at this time.

For information about the Joseph Herman Art Foundation, please see here. Information about the fundraiser is here.

For information about Mind and Mind Cymru – including links for accessing support or making donations – please see here.

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Working (and not working) during lockdown

June 3rd, 2020

Revisiting earlier source material, for the first month or so of lockdown I continued to paint and draw, though before long realised my attention was often elsewhere and I was struggling to focus. I made a few pictures I was happy with, but – like everyone – was finding the unfolding situation difficult to adjust to, and after a while realised I needed a break from the studio.

Now (after five weeks of DIY misadventures), I’m happy to be getting back to work and hope to manage things a little better.

As well as returning to the unfinished canvases I found waiting in the studio, I’m very excited to be talking to self-isolating dancers about ways in which we might collaborate remotely, and perhaps find new ways to create pictures together. It’s been uplifting to see the innovations of so many other artists – including Ballet Cymru, with their regular videos and livestreams – as they’ve adapted their practices in response to the restrictions and uncertainties affecting us all, and I’m finding a lot of inspiration in that.

Future exhibitions are all necessarily up in the air. Front of Bicycle was unable to go ahead with its spring show in Basel, and the Albany Gallery and Ffin y Parc Gallery remain closed to visitors (though both are very active online). Other shows previously in the pipeline for later in the year are now uncertain, though I shall update when I can.

That said, I hope everyone is well and keeping safe, and finding their ways through this extraordinary time. I’ll be posting new pictures fairly soon, I expect, and, as always, will welcome any comments.

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With Ballet Cymru at Ysgol Llanllyfni

March 1st, 2020

A great week at the village school Ysgol Llanllyfni, near Caernarfon in North Wales, with Ballet Cymru and Dawns i Bawb working with the children on the Duets dance programme, as I ran figure drawing and painting workshops leading to the creation of some very large canvases.

After first sketching each other and experimenting with the improvisation techniques I use in my own work, each of the school’s three classes moved to the hall to draw their friends in the dance workshops. As well as working from classical ballet positions taught by the dancers, the artists sketched poses exploring themes of trust, joy, betrayal and despair, inspired by the tragic ballet Giselle, and created by the children themselves. Over the course of a day and a half, the entire school took part in these drawing activities, producing some beautifully observed images.

Using these sketches as starting points (and in a few cases creating new ones, with Ballet Cymru dancers modelling), smaller groups of children from each class then worked together to develop ideas for four huge paintings. With canvases laid out across a classroom floor, the groups discussed their ideas and began sketching them out in charcoal before starting work in acrylics. Further details were added as the pictures developed, with the children discussing and agreeing among themselves how they should proceed.

Yrs 1-2 and yrs 3-4 each created paintings five and half meters long – the first a happy dance scene (featuring ballet poses they had learned in their Duets workshops) relating to Act 1 of the tragic ballet, and the second a far sadder and spookier scene, reflecting Act 2, with spirits and sorrowful figures gathered in a forbidding forest. Yrs five and six worked together to create a four-meter-high diptych representing both acts of the story, each full of emotion and interconnected symbolism – for example, falling blossom, blooming tulips and fluttering butterflies in one image, echoed by falling leaves, dead sunflowers and a beady-eyed raven in the other.

I was hugely impressed by the children’s enthusiasm, thoughtfulness and focus. Knowing how big the challenge was, the artists worked long after school hours to make sure we were able to finish in the time we had. It was inspiring to see, and they did a wonderful job.

Many thanks to all the children and staff at Ysgol Llanllyfni – a lovely school, with an extraordinary sense of community – and to Ballet Cymru dancers and staff for all their support. I’d not led a school project on quite this scale before, and everyone’s help throughout the week was much appreciated.

Thanks also to The Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Pontio, and Arts Council of Wales, who funded the work.

The four paintings and a selection of drawings will exhibited from early June at Pontio, Bangor, coinciding with Ballet Cymru’s performance of Giselle later in the month.

An album of images from the project can be found on my personal Facebook page, (linked on my arty Facebook page on March 1st).

Further information about Ballet Cymru’s Duets programme can be found here.

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