19 April – 18 June 2011

What do the objects you own mean to you?

Over an eight week period, Oriel Myrddin Gallery invites four artists; Carwyn Evans, Peter Finnemore,

Becky Adams and Jools Johnson to occupy the gallery space with special objects that evoke intruiging stories.

Using objects both personal and particular and a spirit of experiment and happen-stance, each of this artist-led series will develop differently. Visitors and community groups will engage with each of the stages in order to explore the stories, history, memory and associations of objects.


Wednesday, 27 April 2011

The Cultural Biography of Things...

We have chosen this statement as our wall text for the Project Object series:

 "We accept that every person has many biographies...each of which selects some aspect of the life history and discards others. Biographies of things cannot but be similarly partial. In doing the biography of a thing, one would ask questions similar to those one asks about people…where does the thing come from and who made it? What has been its career so far, and what do people consider to be an ideal career for such things? What are the recognized ‘ages’ or periods in a thing’s ‘life’, and what are the cultural markers for them? How does the thing’s use change with its age and what happens to it when it reaches the end of its usefulness?"

"Rydym yn derbyn fod gan bob un lawer o fywgraffiadau ... ac mae pob un ohonynt yn dewis rhyw agwedd ar hanes bywyd ac yn hepgor rhai eraill. Ni all Bywgraffiadau o bethau fod yn ddim byd ond yn rhannol debyg. wneud bywgraffiad o beth,byddai un yn gofyn cwestiynau tebyg i'r rhai hynny sy’n cael eu gofyn am bobl ... o le mae’r peth yn dod o a phwy sydd wedi’i wneud? Beth yw gyrfa’r peth wedi bod hyd yma, a beth mae pobl yn ystyried sy’n yrfa ddelfrydol ar gyfer pethau o'r fath? Beth yw'r 'oedrannau' neu’r cyfnodau sy’n cael eu cydnabod mewn 'bywyd' rhywbeth, a beth yw'r marcwyr diwylliannol ar eu cyfer? Sut mae defnydd y peth yn newid gyda'i oedran, a beth sy'n digwydd iddo pan fydd yn cyrraedd diwedd ei ddefnyddioldeb?"

Igor Kopytoff The Cultural Biography of Things: Commoditization as Process

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Sgwrs yn yr oriel..

Having spent the week with us in the gallery, Carwyn Evans came back this afternoon to talk about the work he has installed in Project Object: Altro.

Carwyn started by telling us a little bit about his practice as an artist. Coming from a Welsh speaking farming family in Newcastle Emlyn in Ceredigion, he sees his work as an extension and a re-interpretation of this farming legacy. Previous work, especially from his first major solo show in Oriel Davies in 2009, Y bore hwnnw, gwyliodd y wawr yn torri/That morning he watched the dawn, began to explore notions of 'cefn gwlad' (rurality) in relation to migration/immigration to/from the city. Alongside an exceptional collection of sculptural installations, a series of dry point etchings Arolwg/Survey showed field plans for ploughing on the land worked by his father. A series of occasional tables Troi/Turn with routed tops, like ploughed fields brought the language and physical actions of the farm into the artist's repertoire.

During his MA studies at The Royal College of Art this year, Carwyn has developed these ideas and begun to find a more open and experimental attitude to making his work. Oriel Myrddin Gallery has become a place where he can test out the relationship the works have to each other and the gallery space.

The main activity that has taken place during Carwyn's time in the gallery is the sieving of clay from the family farm in custom made buckets, the intention is one of 'purification'; an investigation to find out if there may be a way of disinvesting the material of place and identity and its potent associations. The muddy residue of the process has been placed by Carwyn high up on the plates of some quasi-agricultural forms which he calls 'rammers' leaning against the gallery wall. The process elevates the 'stuff', offering it up. 

As you enter the gallery a loosely constructed wall made from slats of wood or louvres runs into the space. It has a function of defining space, but also operates as a screen. Although reluctant to pin down a meaning for this construction, Carwyn suggested that personally, he may have utilised the screen as a way of 'excusing' or obfuscating his activities in the gallery. There is perhaps a reticence or shyness in him to  expose the process he is engaged with, the eradication of culture, the filtering of identity.

Elsewhere in the gallery, a series of bone china forms are placed, made from the off-cut material that his girlfriend, ceramicist Lowri Davies generates from the fine table-ware she produces. They have become sculptural objects in Carwyn's hands. One of the forms, propped on a wooden frame has had clay from the farm forced through the centre. Carwyn alludes to many layers of reference in the work, one of which sees a slightly anthropomorphic shape in the form - perhaps a child in a high chair - the clay becomes a metaphor for the imbibing of the personal and cultural stuff of which we are made. Scatological references lead us to think about the residue of that process. 

Alongside the sculptural works, there are also two projections running in the gallery. The texts, one in Welsh, one in English are a response to Richard Serra's Verb List Compilation: Actions to Refer to Oneself (1967 - 1968). A series of verbs which relate to the actions of farming are brought into the gallery by Carwyn to become an artwork.

The self portrait that Carwyn has created with the use of the OHPs shows an image of him with a bunch of Gypsophila flowers in his mouth - a play on the phrase - giving (people) 'gyp' - whether he is giving gyp or being GIVEN gyp is not necessarily clear! Further projections echo the patterns of the Gypsophila in pin prick circles of light - Carwyn suggested that we hold that image in mind whilst looking at the show - the idea that there are a constellation of ideas and interpretations for the work and that nothing is final or fixed.

It was great to have Carwyn with us to give us this insight into the processes and outcomes of his work. I left feeling he had been very brave to use the gallery in this way to show fledgling work as yet untested out of the studio and to embrace the experimental spirit of the project. I think it is particularly poignant for Carwyn to show this work in Carmarthen, so near to his family home. He respectfully raises many crucial questions for all of us who live in Wales either by birth or by choice and gently opens a platform to begin to question the very nature of identity and belonging.

Thursday, 21 April 2011


Here's Carwyn working in the gallery sieving the clay from his father's farm. 

If the shoe fits...

Shoe basket - courtesy of Carmarthen Museum

We went to Carmarthen Museum yesterday to pick up the items we are borrowing to show in the studio space as part of Project Object: Collect. Anne Dorsett , the Senior Museums Officer had picked us a lovely collection of small items from the archives. I really like this little basket made in the shape of a shoe from Carmarthen in the 18th Century.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Project project

One of the things we got interested in whilst researching the original ideas behind Project Object was the use of an overhead projector as an artistic tool. We have collected together a few OHP's (thanks to all those who have rifled their store cupboards to help us out!) to make available to our artists during the run of the show. Carwyn Evans has made this self portrait on acetate with projections of pin-prick light punctured through Cinefoil overlaid on the image.

Thanks to Louise Bird for the Video clip.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011


Carwyn got going today on sieving the earth he'd brought into the gallery from his father's land in Newcastle Emlyn. In the afternoon he was joined for a while by artist Marged Pendrell who was in town for the day. Marged currently has a show, Custodian in gallery 5 at Mostyn in Llandudno and lives in north Wales although she is originally from west Wales. Her work is also about earth, soil and sand - so she was delighted to be invited to get her hands dirty and help Carwyn with his task. 

Project Object: Collect

As part of Project Object: Collect, we've been inviting people to bring in a special object to the gallery to complement the pieces we will have on loan from Carmarthen Museum in the studio space from 7 May. Please bring your object into the gallery during April - we're interested to hear about the story behind your choice, find out more here

Monday, 18 April 2011

Carwyn Evans - Project Object: Altro

Technician Chris Ozzard with Carwyn Evans this morning

Artist, Carwyn Evans has been with us in the gallery today installing the first of our Project Object shows Altro. Carwyn is originally from the borders of rural Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion, he now lives in Cardiff and has been completing his MA at The Royal College of Art in London this year. The title he has chosen for his contribution to Project Object is Altro; it's a local phrase - slightly Welsh, slightly English - meaning to change or alter. Carwyn also suggests that the word doesn't neccesarily have the flavour of an English or Welsh word, but perhaps sounds more European - or maybe futuristic.

The work Carwyn is undertaking in the gallery space uses "...material unearthed from his father's land in Newcastle Emlyn, he will be 'purifing' it, eradicating any sense of place, identity or culture from the material so that it can only be seen as ‘stuff’, dislocated from notions of culture and mother or fatherland."

The gallery is open to the public tomorrow and Carwyn will be here to begin working with his materials, we're intrigued to see what transpires - if you're near by please come and meet him and find out a bit more about his ideas. You can come and hear Carwyn talking about his work on Saturday 23 April between 2-3pm in gallery - free entry, all welcome.

Carwyn with artsit Louise Bird (who also works at Oriel Myrddin)
 this afternoon - things are progressing...


Project Object begins...

'Materials and process' are of great interest to us here at Oriel Myrddin Gallery, we show fine art, craft and design, but we are particularly focussed on the place where all these disciplines of making and creating outgrow their pigeon-holes and begin to have a conversation. The 'object' is the common outcome of these disciplines, the culmination of an idea materialised. Project Object is something of an adventure in the hands of four artists who have been given the gallery space over an eight week period to experiment with their ideas of the object from their personal perspectives; this blog is a document of their progress.

Whilst things are happening, unfolding and changing in the main gallery, we will be using the upstairs studio space to have a conversation with our visitors about their ideas of objects. We felt that the 'museum' would be an interesting place to begin, a place where the object is venerated and contextualised to encapsulate all sorts of ideas about preciousness, personal narrative and social commentary. Carmarthen Museum have very kindly loaned us a few gems from their collection to kick-start the process and these will be on display in the studio from 7 May. Alongside these pieces, we are asking you to lend us a special object of your own to show in the same space and to tell us a little bit about why that thing is important to you. We'll feature some of them here on the blog as they arrive in the gallery. Here is a link for more information about Project Object: Collect.