Preview: Friday November 22nd, 7pm
Artist talks Saturday 23rd November, 3pm
Exhibition continues until 28th December
Gallery open: Tues – Sat 12 – 7pm
Gallery Bar open: Tues, Weds 12 – 7pm, Thurs 12 – 11pm, Friday and Saturday 12 – 1am
Kathryn Ashill | Stefan Bottenberg | Geraint Ross Evans | Peter Finnemore | Christine Laquet | Anne-Mie Melis | Pascal Michel-Dubois | Janire Najera | Sarah Poland | Sean Vicary
elysium gallery brings together five artists from Wales and five European artists from across the channel to create a ‘positivist’ exhibition that demonstrates unity in these divided times.
‘The Closer we are’ wants to create a bond from the diverse, by creating a rest-bite and sense of ‘normalness’ out of the chaos. Brexit will not divide us!
About the artists:
Swansea born Kathryn Ashill uses live performance, video and installation to present personal experiences of high culture and lived working class identity. This clash sits in the disjointed narratives within her work. Ashill pursues the theatricality in the everyday whilst sharing fragments of autobiography, observations on people, history and site.
Previous work has focused on Cliff Richard’s 1996 portrayal of Wuthering Heights’ ‘Heathcliff’; Butlins redcoats/ knobbly knees and performance art; the history of the Principal boy in Pantomime; psychics; Take a Break Magazine; medicinal leeches; regression and a cat who killed someone in a past life.
Theatre flats and the DIY aesthetic of amateur dramatics articulate the materiality of these themes.
Stefan Bottenberg was born in Germany but raised in Belgium. He studied Printmaking in Brussels at Ecole Nationale Superieure de la Cambre, before moving to London and graduated from Central Saint Martins in 1992. His interests were optical illusions and the notion of the recurring loop.
Bottenberg started painting in the late 1990s, initially inspired by images of garden sheds in the Argos catalogue. He followed this with a series of paintings of suburban Belgian detached houses (Villas) using photos taken when visiting family in Belgium. These paintings aimed to reflect the somewhat stark ‘ruler-drawn’ nature of these house and street scenes.
In about 2009, the artist came across a large pile of woodworking magazines dating from the 80s and 90s, left behind by a neighbour. ‘I was instantly attracted by the images in these magazines; people using power tools or some other piece of equipment to help them complete a given task’.
These images inspired a series of ‘People at Work’ pictures, which are collage and spray-painted stencil on paper. In fact, the overall effect is like the Belgian Villa series, but the spray-painting gives them a less sharp-edged and more fluid appearance.
Throughout this time, Bottenberg have also been exploring the house, garden and shed themes through small 3d objects, mostly made from blocks of wood or corrugated cardboard. More recently the work has included depictions of British suburbia (with its rows of identical houses) and is currently exploring this both as pencil drawings on paper and in the form of 3d models.
Geraint Ross Evans
From small sketches through to accomplished large-scale drawings, drawing from observation has always been central to Geraint’s practice. Often combining artistic disciplines, his themes are built around the central concern of the individual’s experience, in both the visual, political and physical geography of place. His focus has included the edgeland worlds of our city outskirts, where he celebrates the sensations and memories conjured by these landscapes, to the inner city retail meccas of Cardiff and London, searching for meaning and grounding amongst the myth of the individual. Through drawing, painting, installation and soundscapes, Geraint reimagines these experiences in the studio. Bio Geraint Ross Evans was born in 1988 in Caerphilly and grew up in Cardiff, Wales. Following graduation from Swansea Metropolitan University in 2009 with a BA (Hons) in Fine Art; Geraint became closely involved with the South Wales art scene, most notably with the former TactileBosch gallery and studios in Cardiff. Following his first solo exhibition, Geraint relocated to London where he was awarded a scholarship to study at The Royal Drawing School, on their postgraduate program The Drawing Year (2014-15). On completion he was awarded the Directors Prize and shortly after, The Richard Ford Award from the Richard Ford Fund (Royal Academy of Arts) to study the paintings at the Prado Museum in Madrid. Geraint’s studio is now based in Cardiff; he continues to work and teach between Cardiff and London.
Peter Finnemore is an artist working within the broad practice of photographic art, including artists’ books, multi-media installation, performance and video. He represented Wales at the Venice Biennale in 2005 and was included in a major book anthology of contemporary photography, Photography Today: A History of Contemporary Photography, published by Phaidon
Embracing creative experimentation and the flexible language of photography, he simultaneously works a number of projects which overlap ideas of biography, culture, generational memory and history. The starting point of this series of work, entitled ‘It’s Me, Not You’, explores self-portraiture, time and materiality through his archive of photo booth portraits.
“My multiform production questions our relationship to history and it traces and unravels the configurations of power that inhere within our contemporary culture. Thanks to a poetic process, I like to deconstruct the conventional oppositions between Nature and Culture, while focusing on animal figures, the non-human and the invisible. The question of fear is a recurrence in my research, revisiting this feeling in order to better understand its aspect both fantastical and cultural, anchored in our minds and bodies. Therefore, my work is at the intersection of natural, anthropological and political sciences.”
Based in Nantes (France), Christine Laquet obtained herdegree in Fine Art from the ESBAL (National Fine Art School of Lyon, FR) and the ECAL (Ecole Cantonale d’Art of Lausane, CH). Her work has been widely exhibited internationally and is included in public collections such as the FNAC or FRAC
Belgian born Anne-Mie Melis is a visual artist and educator, based in Pontypridd. Her artwork takes inspiration from evolutionary biology, science and our contemporary urban and natural environment. Her work is diverse, multidisciplinary and has included sculptures of new organisms in synthetic fabrics, resins and natural materials, stop motion animations of future plant hybrids as well as drawing, photography and sculptural installations. She invites the public to share her naïve attempts to establish change to our behaviour, thus exploring art as a possible tool to instigate social and environmental change. The work considers human impact, past and present, on the natural environment and our responsibilities as citizens of the planet we live on
Melis has been the recipient of a Leverhulme Trust residency award and has been supported in the development of her work by ACE and ACW and the Flemish Community. She completed several residencies and commissions in the UK and in Belgium. Present and past projects and exhibitions include Coventry Biennial 2019, Y Lle Celf, National Eisteddfod of Wales 2019, Manor Park Playground Project Penarth (with Rhôd and EMP Projects), Lead Creative School Projects (with Roger Lougher at Alaw PS, Ystruth PS, Llwnderw PS), Slow Landscape (Campfa//Arcade Cardiff), Silent Stage (Kukiskes, Lithuania), UNIT(e) G39 (Cardiff, with Roger Lougher), Oriel Myrddin (Carmarthen), Oriel Davies (Newtown), Oriel Mwldan (Cardigan), the Jerwood Space (London), Lokaal01 (Antwerp, Belgium) and the Weizzmann Institute of Science (Rehovot, Israel).
Pascal-Michel Dubois’ art practice is a device inviting the spectator to experience from multiple perspectives our familiar fields of knowledge and imagination. The material of the everyday initiates his curiosity. Dubois is enthralled by the capacity that art owns to take you from that space in that moment, to another space. He sees his work as an idle observation of life like a doodle. Therefore, it is always in the making, constantly re-interpreting the fabric of reality.
Dubois has used a large variety of media over the years, ranging from painting, drawing, site-specific installation, to animation and live performance. The artist appropriates, modifies and reassembles existing materials – such as maps, texts, diagrams and charts, photos, manufactured objects of all kind with the aim of generating incisive and intriguing moments that emulate in the spectator’s mind a desire to see our world with new eyes. Ultimately, Dubois’ art practice is an attempt in documenting the art/life inherent correlation…
Pascal-Michel Dubois is a French visual artist who has been living and working in the UK for over twenty-eight years. He studied Visual Art at the School of Fine Art of Lyon (France) and at Goldsmith’s College Art Department (London) and obtained his BA Degree with Honours in 1990 in Lyon. The following year, Dubois returned to London. He gradually developed his art and got involved in solo & group exhibitions in the UK and abroad. In 2005, Dubois moved out of the East End of London to start a new life in the Valleys of South Wales where he continues to develop his art to this day.
Janire Najera is a photojournalist based in Cardiff, UK. She studied Journalism in Madrid and Documentary Photography at the University of Wales, Newport. Since graduating Janire has undertaken artistic residencies and exhibited internationally. In 2015, she published her first book ‘Moving forward, looking back’ and in 2019 the photobook Atomic Ed with Editorial RM
‘Sarah Poland makes and uses her own oak gall ink, which itself is a material with antique histories. The presence of landscape and being in it a source for her work, drawing upon natural elements and materials. Large works engage physically and spatially as well as conceptually, building relationships between the materials and the abstract, between nature and transformation.
She uses the ink to create a coming and going of the colour and colour experience. In different moments, different colours come to the surface or recede (within the overall structure) and can create a flicker. When making work she looks for surprising relationships and unexpected collaborations between the pieces and in some pieces, combines the oak gall work with photographic ‘Moon Drawings’. There are elements of reduction to the work, but these are not abstract works in search of the absolute.
For this exhibition Poland’s paintings have been developed around the title ‘Meditations on Planet Earth.’
Sarah Poland grew up in the Scottish Highlands, gained her BA at Edinburgh College of Art and moved to rural Wales in 2010. In 2015 she attended Aberystwyth School of Art to learn under the tutelage of master lithographer Paul Croft T.M.P. She has exhibited nationally and internationally, won the Glynn Vivian Open in 2018.
Cardigan based artist Seán Vicary works across animation, moving image and printmaking.
His practice explores ideas at the heart of our relationship with the ‘natural’ world, place and landscape; investigating links between the subjective, scientific and historical aspects, especially those that are obscure or concealed.
Active research is integral to his creative process, frequently working with primary sources to shape his understanding and inform explorations of contemporary mythos. Seán often works place-sensitively; observing and collecting found objects and fragments of detritus, then manipulating these elements in a virtual space to create animated assemblages. These act as triggers for the viewer, sometimes suggestive of a wider narrative or hidden process at play behind the visible.
Seán was a recipient of a 2017 Creative Wales Award from the Arts Council of Wales and has been developing work that examines contemporary manifestations of Genii Loci.
For this exhibition, his film ‘Chain Home West’ explores an abandoned wartime radar station in rural Pembrokeshire. Layers of place are woven together with semi-fictive and autobiographical elements to create echoes of the uncanny and reflections of impending climate change. There are wider suggestions of a symbiosis out of balance and the dark ecology of an ecological awakening.