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.

Space and Time – Photography Exhibition by Gemma Pepper – May to October 2012 – Llandudno – North Wales

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The first time Gemma Pepper realized she wanted to become a photographer she was stood on top of a mountain in Zakinthos in Greece.

Born in Hertfordshire and raised in Switzerland, Gemma grew up in a creative family, her Mother is a keen watercolour painter and late Grandfather a photographer and painter, she found herself encouraged to follow her dream of becoming a photographer. In 2010 she moved back to North Wales to study for a HND in photography, now approaching the end of her final year she chose to stage a solo show as part of her assessment, the result is ‘Space and Time’.

Inspired by the likes of Francesca Woodman, Ralph Eugene Meatyard and Duane Michals, Gemma’s work explores ideas of representation and the self, with portraits of young females and self portraits a prevalent theme. For this body of work Gemma sought inspiration from surrealism and traditional darkroom techniques, using a 35mm camera and long exposures she began to question the notions of time and space.

Having used an old Village Hall in Dolgarrog and an empty Hanger in Beaumaris for similar photo-shoots Gemma experimented with both Digital and Film [both 35mm and large format] working through ideas for her final project responding to the buildings features and the models relationship with the space. It was through sheer coincidence that Gemma found her biggest inspiration for the project in the shape of an empty Edwardian Pumping Station in Rhos-on-Sea, thanks to the support of estate agent Richard Baddeley she was able to use the building as the location for the end photo-shoot, using long exposures and blurred movements to evoke the constant changes that affect and shape our lives.

In 2011 Gemma achieved both first and second place in two Focal Press competitions, and is currently shortlisted for the ‘Art, Design and Media Student award 2012’.

‘Space and Time’ will be touring from May atCASC artist studios and project spaceto Zurich, Switzerland in October 2012.

The exhibition is the first public exhibition to be held at ‘casc artist studios and project space’ an artist-run organisation consisting of artist studios and a project space, founded with the mission of supporting and promoting both emerging and established contemporary visual artists from North Wales and beyond, by providing affordable artist-run studios and an exhibition/project space. Key to the groups’ ethos is the development and sustainability of local, regional and international initiatives, promoting research and community outreach projects.

Gemma’s exhibition is the starting point for the group’s mission to help support and nurture upcoming talent, providing them not only with an exhibition space, but invaluable advice, guidance and a kickstart to their burgeoning artistic careers.

More information can be found about Gemma on her Facebook Page and CASC artist studios project here

Written by Badgemakesart

Images copyright Gemma Pepper

Area – North Wales