Helfa Gelf: Open Studios Art Trail

A diverse and talented group of artists based in Llandudno are preparing to throw open their doors to the public and invite visitors into the secret world of their art studio. They exhibit as part of Helf Gelf/Art Trail, North Wales’s largest open studios project.  A range of artists and craft makers will be allowing visitors to see where they work and how they work, over the Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays throughout September.

The six artists, based at ‘c.a.s.c artist studios and project space‘ on Garage Street behind MOSTYN Gallery, are a fantastic example of the diverse range of artists taking part in Helfa Gelf this year.  The ‘c.a.s.c’ collective has been going since 2009, when it first came to the public’s attention in its original location in Llandudno, they moved to their current studio – complete with a project/exhibition space in 2011 and have continued to thrive,  It has included a variety of artists over the years , all with a shared interest in contemporary art and crafts.

“Working at the ‘c.a.s.c’ studios has allowed us the opportunity to network with other like-minded artists and to seek peer group support. It is surprising how many artists live and work in North Wales and how much talent there is.,” says Wendy Couling mixed media artist and one of the founder members of ‘c.a.s.c’

“This is the third year I have taken part in Helfa Gelf and it has been a really rewarding experience for me. I exhibited as part of a different studio last year and we did well with sales, which is an added incentive!” said Barry Morris, a figurative painter.

“It is good to meet people who are interested in art and get feedback about your work. It is also interesting when you have people visit you every year, who can then comment on how your work has developed.”

All six artists will open their workshop spaces to visitors during the Helfa Gelf event in September. They will exhibit paintings, ceramics, sculpture, mixed media work and present installation pieces, the other members include Antonia Dewhurst, who this summer completed a successful exhibition and installation at Oriel Davies (New Town), Gerallt Hughes an illustrator, Jane Tudor who works in mixed media and sculptural ceramicist Wendy Dykes.

The local artists in the area are in the Conwy Coastal Cluster part of the Helfa Gelf /Art Trail.

Artists who open their studios share the inner workings of their creative world. Studios in the Conwy coastal Cluster  are hugely diverse and interesting, with over 22 artists all living and working in a 17 mile radius of each other. A full range of art forms is available to visitors including: contemporary wood work, ceramics, drawing, felting, jewellery making, painting, photography, printmaking, textiles, sculpture, fractual art and  illustration. In total there are over 300 artists across Gwynedd, Conwy, Flintshire, Denbighshire and Wrexham opening their studios to allow visitors to experience their creative processes.

A Helfa Gelf Art Trail guide book is widely available from local libraries, schools, tourist information centres, hotels, shops, galleries and Helfa Gelf Information Points. To help to plan your free artistic adventure, ‘The Art Trail Map’, an online interactive guide, is available at www.helfagelf.co.uk. This includes information on studio locations, artist profiles, a gallery of images, directions to the studios, satellite map, access information and opening times. It also contains information about free drop-in workshops and free community bus-tours run during the event.

Sabine Cockrill, project coordinator for Helfa Gelf says:

““The range of art is very diverse. It is exciting to start on the Art Trail and be recommended other artists to go and see and spend an interesting day exploring creative spaces.. You never know where the Trail might lead you. ‘c.a.s.c’ is a fantastic example of a group studio, where are you are able to see very different types of artworks.  The studios are in all sorts of locations from beautiful rural cottages, to garden sheds, to purpose built spaces in towns and villages.”

The  ‘c.a.s.c’ studio has been divided into different working spaces for each artist. As you move through the building, you can see how the artists have renovated the interior to meet their needs. Some areas have bright white boards, easels and workbenches, and all the artists have adapted the flooring, lighting and storage to enable them to work in their different materials and artistic media.

Barry Morris, whose work includes skull linocut print bunting and painted dolls, adds:” It really motivates you when you know other artists, curators , buyers, visitors and members of the community will be looking at your work. “

Pick up a booklet locally or use ‘The Art Trail Map’ online at www.helfagelf.co.uk. The HelfaGelfArtTrail project has received funding through the Rural Development Plan for Wales 2007–2013, which is funded by the Welsh Government and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.

Gwyl Arall (Another Festival) Art Exhibition – Wales

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Last year I took part in a local arts festival calledGwyl Arall [which translates as ‘Another Festival’] with my series of doll artwork displayed in an old toy shop window, so I was thrilled to be invited to submit work again for this years exhibition organized by the husband and wife team Morgan Griffith and Rebecca.F.Hardy [who also run the brilliant DyfalDonc].

Aided byBocs, a non-profit co-op of artists based in Caernarfon andGwead.com‘ the exhibition aims to help provide a platform for and to help promote emerging Welsh talent. The role call of artists taking part is impressive with 3 winners from this years “Welsh Artist of the Year”: Gareth Griffith and Iwan Lewis who shared the prize for Painting, and Wendy Leah Dawson who took home the student prize. It also boasts former “Welsh Photographer of the Year” Llinos Lanini and Gethin Wyn Jones who in 2006 won the Nationwide Mercury Art competition and is currently exhibiting at Wales flagship contemporary art gallery Mostyn. Others exhibiting include myself Barry Morris [Badge], Gerallt.D.Hughes, Jaime Kelly, Gethin Wavell, Alana Tyson, Osian Efnisien, Morgan Griffith [Sonomano], Buddug Humphreys, Rebecca.F.Hardy, Jessie Chorley, Ioan Griffith, Siân Green, Sarah McEachran, Richard Cynan-Jones, Nerys Jones, Alan Whitfield, and Rebecca Gould.

Formed after the closure of Oriel Dafydd Hardy in Caernarfon, ‘Bocs’ filled the void left by the gallery by becoming a champion for emerging young Welsh talent encompassing visual arts, music and performance, and helping to nurture up-and-coming artists, this is the first year that ‘Bocs’ has been involved with ‘Gwyl Arall’, but organizer Rebecca.F.Hardy hopes that it will be the start of a fruitful relationship. Rebecca is already working with her colleagues at ‘Bocs’ in securing a new permanent venue for the co-op and approaching artists to develop a programme of exhibitions and workshops for the coming year.

The aim of gwead.com is to introduce the work of contemporary photographers from Europe’s oldest cultures at the moment; Wales, Brittany, the Basque Country and Catalonia. Their mission statement elaborates on this idea: “By submitting visual work and sharing of cultures that are either similar in language, culture and history or a historical or linguistic we hope to strengthen the relationship between them. We may add more countries in the future. In addition to delivering work on the web, we will display the work in exhibitions, festivals and galleries over the coming months and years. This websites is Rhodri Owen idea of Ysbyty Ifan in Wales. “

By Badge

badgemakesart@yahoo.co.uk

Area: Wales

Introducing A New Creatabot Contributor – Badge – Artist

Badge is a unique artist from North Wales who has just joined us as a contributor. Badge will be interviewing creatives and talking about what is going on in his area. He was christened ‘Badge’ back in school for reasons unknown and adopted it as an alias for his artwork when he started college. We posed some questions to him so you can all get to know him better…

Badge, tell us more about your creative background…

Art was always by far my favourite subject in school, even in Primary School every project I did revolved around art. Towards the end of High School I’d become a bit disenchanted with it as a subject, it’d become very prescriptive so I never did an A-Level in it, and I almost went to university to study English Lit instead, fortunately I was convinced by friends to check out the art courses at the local college, and that’s where I ended up.

My time in Llandrillo College was amazing, I loved every second of it, and thankfully they prepared us well for the big bad world of art! I completed my Foundation Diploma in Art & Design at Llandrillo and then nearly went onto uni to study something else I wasn’t sure about, so I took two years out from art education again, all the time filling up sketchbooks!

I then ended up back in the same college on the FdA in Art & Design – taking Fine Art as a major, loving every second of my time on the course and made some amazing friends and contacts! I topped that up with a nightmare final year at a university to give me the full BA hons.

What made you start making art?

I’ve always drawn/painted/coloured/made things ever since I can remember, I used to draw a family of teapots when I first started Primary School, and it quickly became second nature to draw and make things, I can remember begging for Skeletor’s Snake Mountain and the Thundercats Lair and never getting them so I built my own versions using cardboard boxes and papier-mache.  Fortunately my folks were both very encouraging of my creative side and approved of my ‘Art Attack’ approach to toy related dilemmas!

I also used to spend hours poring over encyclopaedias’ – usually reading up on things like natural disasters, cannibals and apocalypses – normal kid stuff! But it was also there I first realized that people actually made art for a living – and it was there the idea of becoming an artist set in.

As I got older I started to use art as a way of dealing with all the things floating around in my head, I used to have really bad nightmares as a child [no wonder considering the things I used to read!] and I’ve suffered with insomnia since I was little too, so dream and reality blur – art has been a great way to channel that and has proved a rich source of inspiration!

What career paths have you taken?

I’ve had ordinary ho-hum day jobs since I was 14 [cleaning hotels, retail, gardening etc] when I graduated I was fortunate to be invited to be part of an artist co-operative on the North Wales coast [Oriel Scala Artists Co-operative] complete with an artist run gallery. It quickly became a crash-course and very steep learning curve in maintaining a commercial gallery and community arts projects, I took on the marketing and online publicity – which having no real previous experience of was a true baptism of fire, but we banded together and I came out of it with far more confidence about myself and my artwork, and having a regular space to show/sell my work was a huge boost especially just after coming out of art school!

That experience helped me to secure a temporary position in the Mostyn Gallery in Llandudno working in the craft shop, and then to a permanent position as a gallery assistant, I’m still there as front of house and assisting on exhibition changeovers, and my studio which I share with 3 others from work and two from college is right next door – which comes in very handy! The studio [casc artist studios and project space] has a project space in the front which we use to stage exhibitions and workshops for ourselves and other artists, we’re hoping to develop its profile and make it a hub for the artistic community.

Who inspires you both locally and internationally?

We’ve got some amazingly talented folks in North Wales; I met an illustrator called Karen Cheung last year on the annual open studios trail and fell in love with her drawings of specimens in jar drawn in science museums and her quirky semi-autobiographical rabbit cartoons.

Bedwyr Williams is also a big favourite of mine; he mixes self-deprecating humour and observations of Welsh culture with installations and performances, I was lucky enough to be taught by him as a visiting lecturer in college.

Also…Glenn Brown, Jake & Dinos Chapman, Conor Harrington, Audrey Kawasaki, Frida Kahlo, Goya, Antony Micallef, Jenny Saville, Eelus, Mark Titchner, Derek Riggs, Ian Francis, Egon Schiele, Edvard Munch, the list is endless!

I tend to draw inspiration from a lot of places, music is big one for me I’ve always got music on in the studio, headphones on the bus home, and for each project I’ll make a soundtrack that I’ll listen along to whilst working and more often than not lyrics end up being used as titles. Popular culture, literature, fears and science also inform my work.

What would you like to achieve in the future?

The dream for me is to be in the financial situation where I can just be in the studio 7 days a week painting and making, but at the moment I need the day job, however I’m very lucky to work within the arts so it’s not too bad – I can network and get inspired/sketch whilst in work so it could be worse!

I’ve always said I want to help encourage the art scene in North Wales, we have a real variety of media and styles here it needs showcasing to a wider audience! So if I can somehow aid that I’d be very happy with myself

Can you recommend a creative website you love?

www.juxtapoz.com is a must! The magazine is also somewhat of a Bible to me!

www.myloveforyou.com is also great for finding quirky and unusual creative’s!

We are really glad Badge is working with us and we really look forward to hearing more about the creative scene in North Wales!

To find out more about Badge please visit :

www.badgemakesart.co.uk

Badge on Facebook

Badge on Twitter

Area – Wales