I’m sure I am not the only one starting to feel slightly worn out and heavy hearted in these baffling and sad political times…..it can only get better in 2019…yes?….right??
Despite all the doom, gloom and uncertainty, for elysium gallery at least, 2018 has been a generous year of exhibitions, residencies, open studios, biennales and mobile galleries. For us the Beep Painting Biennial and Now the Hero/Now for more were undoubted highlights in the overall Swansea culture calendar this past year and 2019 is going to get even better!
During January and February 2019, Swansea artist Hazel Cardew will be artist in residence at elysium gallery followed by her exhibition ‘Of Line & Structure’ which will open on Friday 8th March and continue until 23rd March.
Although our first exhibition of the year, it will then be our last ever event at 16 College Street which has been our home since 2013. The new elysium gallery will open at 210 High Street in April. Our new home will house TWO much larger main galleries, a project space, activities area, artist studios and a front of house performance, bar and Café social area. The new elysium will allow for more ambitious events with more opportunities for artists and better accessibility for our audiences. Keep your eyes peeled for further information on how you can get involved.
As I write this an email has just come through outlining the doom and gloom scenarios for the arts in Wales because of Brexit, it is not looking too good, but whatever may happen in the outside world the future is still looking exciting for elysium and its artists and we look forward to our 12th year.
Here is a round-up of 2018:
The year began with elysium studio artist Tim Warren with his exhibition ‘I have a place in mind’ which bought together a series of beautiful landscape paintings creating dreamlike landscapes linked with memory and emotion.
This followed by another elysium studio artist, Richard Williams who was our first artist in residence of the year and used the gallery space for a month as a studio to create new work for his exhibition ‘Come get it while it’s cold’. Atmosphere, mood & light are important ingredients of Williams slightly surreal paintings which were concerned with the idea of humanity’s disconnection from and exploitation of the ecosystem, specifically with the current massive and increasing depletion of insect populations in Europe.
The second artist in residence of 2018 was Swansea College of Art Graduate Dafydd Williams. Williams took this residency as an opportunity to explore his family archive; more specifically family home video VHS tapes. Through his resulting powerful exhibition ‘Settling to a still pool’ Dafydd explored the deterioration and death of family rituals by impermanence and through trauma. Trauma, in this case, takes its form as alcoholism.
In June selected elysium gallery studio artists travelled up to Wrexham in North Wales for ‘WE’RE FROM FURTHER SOUTH THAN YOU’. This launched the first of a planned series of exhibitions and networking events bringing together Artist Studio networks from across Wales to create a platform for sharing skills, instigating creative conversations and nurturing new projects. In collaboration with Undegun, Wrexham as well as CALL, Llandudno and CARN from Caernarfon, the North Wales artists will exhibit at elysium gallery in 2019.
Our third artist in residence of the year was Carmarthen School of Art graduate Sophie Kumar-Taylor who dominated the gallery with her site-specific installation with her exhibition Mix-Tape. Armed with a bag filled with an assortment of tape and scissors; Sophie Kumar-Taylor’s work explores geometry, distortion and optical illusions whilst experimenting with abstraction and colour relationships.
September exploded with the elysium led Beep Painting Biennial which featured exhibitions and events across various venues in Swansea. The 2018 Beep Painting Prize at Swansea College of Art featured over 100 national and International painters which showed the variation and vibrancy in contemporary painting. The main prize was jointly won by Jason Gregory and Kelly Ewing whilst the Welsh prize sponsored by the Friends of the Glynn Vivian was won by Helen Booth. All three artists will exhibit with elysium in 2019.
子午線 Meridian, featured paintings from contemporary Chinese painters at Volcano Theatre. This beautiful exhibition heralded the beginning of the planned elysium/China cultural exchange which will continue in 2019 and 2020. Also, a part of the Beep Painting Biennial at the Mission Gallery was ‘NightSwimming’ curated by Casper White/Oriel Lle which brought together contemporary works that reach into the darkness, questioning how the lack of light affects the work and what this means to the viewer.
Other highlights of the Beep Painting Biennial were Joy Revision at Galerie Simpson curated by Jane Simpson featuring five important contemporary painters in Angela De LA Cruz, Stephen Snoddy, Andrea Ruthi, Anne Ryan and Sarah Pickstone. ‘Everything Now’ at 211 High Street brought together 31 Swansea College of Art painting alumni from the past 50 years. The exhibition represented different generations, experiences & moments, but most importantly celebrated the present. On the upper floors of the same venue was a solo exhibition of lush new paintings by elysium studio artist Amy Goldring. Finally, at elysium gallery was an exhibition by the elysium three summer artists in residence Kena Brown, Sophie Harding and Dylan Williams with their exhibition of new and raw paintings ‘Paint to the Teethbone’.
Overall, the 2018 Beep Painting Biennial was a magnificent achievement bringing all the Swansea arts and educational organisations together to create a citywide International event.
Things didn’t stop there as in September elysium introduced its new Mobile Art Gallery & Studio. A renovated former showroom trailer was transformed into an arts hub that allowed elysium to take some of its activities around Swansea and further afield. This began with a series of pop up life drawing events in Swansea Castle Square, The Market and Waterfront Museum. This was followed by workshops at Swansea Museum, the beach front, with adults with learning difficulties in Llanelli and dementia patients in Port Talbot and Bridgend. The mobile has become an integral part of what we do and will play an important role in reaching out to different communities in South Wales in 2019..
Another offsite exhibition ‘Some things we forgot to remember’ took place at Swansea Museum from September through to the end of the year. This saw 30 artists creating new artworks to interact with the World War 1 exhibition at the museum and consisted of film, sculpture, painting, photography which all sat among the artefacts on display. This exhibition was a fantastic success and has paved the way for future such events in a wonderful venue.
‘Habitats’ saw elysium studio artists Philip Cheater, Kathryn Anne Trussler, Amy Goldring, Tom Morris and Carmarthen artist Sophie Kumar-Taylor immersing themselves in the lush vegetation and varied habitats depicted in the Swansea Brangwyn Hall panels, creating large and smaller works that were displayed at Swansea Grand Theatre and the National Botanic Gardens. A mixture of painting, collage, textiles were used to highlight these magnificent and hidden away works by Frank Brangwyn whilst original prints by the man himself were on display alongside the contemporary responses at the Grand Theatre.
The Brangwyn theme continued back at elysium gallery with Margea Palser and Frank Brangwyn– ‘NoW the WaR, NoW yer RaW’. Inspired by original Frank Brangwyn drawings that were displayed at the gallery and the expansive number of items and subjects that are included in the mural panels, Palser created a series of humorous and memorable performances unpicking and re-imagining selected images from the panels from a menu format. A meditation on war and empire as literally ‘boy’s toys’ were smashed and mixed with flowers and fauna.
‘Swansea Heaven and Hell’ was a magnificent multi-discipline experience where artists, poets, musicians and performers took us through a journey in a world of absolutes from pure enlightenment to downright dirty and hellish. Taking inspiration for the essay Swansea Village written by Edward Thomas in 1914 where he wrote ‘(Swansea) is a dirty witch. You must love her and hate her, and I both love her and hate her’. For one night the music venue Creature Sound was transformed into an ode to all things Swansea featuring Dinosaurs, mermaids, ranting and raving. You had to be there!
The last artist in residence of the year Marega Palser researched and searched for the heart and centre of Swansea in ‘Framing the Transient NoW’. Describing her process as Deep Mapping, her resulting exhibition was a detailed, multimedia depiction of a place and all that exists within it. Both a process and a product, the gallery became a creative space that was visual, open, multi-layered, and ever changing. Where traditional maps serve as statements, deep maps serve as conversations. Swansea is an open wound where since the town centres destruction in World War 2 that has never healed.
The final exhibition of the year saw elysium gallery present a new body of work by New York based 2017 ESPY International Photography Award winner Kathryn Allen Hurni. Her show ‘Witness’ brought together a series of stunning narratives choregraphing strangers within the landscapes she photographs in a process she describes as ‘part poached, and part cultivated’. An amazing exhibition to cap off a chaotic and successful year.
A big thank you to all who have worked with us and supported us throughout the year. Things are going to get a whole lot bigger and exciting. If you would like to get involved, then drop us a line.
Goodbye 2018 and hello 2019!
From all at elysium gallery X