A lot has changed since I last updated on this… I’ve moved house, got a new job, curated exhibitions and smiled a lot more, too.
I came back on here with a free afternoon and a want to write something. Not only something, but something worthwhile.
Yesterday seen the opening of the Sculpture Trail at Mid Wales Arts Centre in Caersws, Powys. I work here, as a marketer/curator/poster designer and ocassionally, gardener. I’ve never been involved in putting together a sculpture trail before, and have to say that the idea of having over 100 sculptures to site, catalogue and co-ordinate was a little daunting at first!
First, I met Thomas and Evermore who represented the Tengenenge Sculptors. Tengenenge is a village in the North of Zimbabwae, where all of the residents are artists (a wonderful thought) who make their living by sculpting stone. The village is what they like to call an ‘open-air gallery.’ (another wonderful thought)
Pictured: A Sculptor’s stand // Stephen Chizora amongst his sculptures in Tengenenge Village.
With the downfall of the economy and in turn, the lack of tourism, the Tengenenge’s have suffered with less visitors to the village and therefore selling less work. However, despite these hardships, the community has survived due to the passion and the energy of these people! This passion and energy was plain to see in Thomas and Evermore. They were excited about the prospects of the trail and the expansion on last years trail. They told me stories of how certain sculptures were made and how a lot of the artist’s looked at a certain type of stone, they could already see what it was going to resemble…! I feel humbled that they want to bring work to Mid -Wales for us to enjoy. Further, I’m delighted that we can be a platform for them to sell their work and to make a living in Zimbabwe. The Tengenenge Sculpture’s look beautiful in the Mid-Wales landscape. The Opal, Ruwinka and Springstone they are made out of compliment the back drop of the rolling hills. A lot of the sculptures are abstract in form, and after hearing the context and sheer determination of a tribe that are striving to survive creatively, it translates directly through the gestural way they are carved.
Abstract Form, Moffat , Hard Serpentine, POA
As well as having these wonderful African sculptures, we’re proud to be the home of Sculpture Cymru – an organisation of sculptors living and working in Wales. Sculpture Cymru celebrated the opening of an exciting new ‘Test’ space and Sculpture Trail in 2015 at the Mid Wales Arts Centre. Alison Lochhead of Sculpture Cymru and the Gas Gallery said it was the beginning of an exciting period for Sculpture Cymru who have wanted a ‘Cartref’ , ( welsh translation for home) where they could have a permanent exhibition space to show their work and exchange ideas. So, after a firm foundation and a successful exhibition in 2015, this year has seen the expansion of this ‘cartref.’ The work that began to arrive at Mid Wales Arts Centre from the Sculpture Cymru members really impressed me. Perhaps ignorant in the past, I never truly took the time to appreciate sculpture. I’ve always been a painter so find myself drawn to those instantly when I go to a gallery. Working here has given me a newly-found appreciation of 3D work. I’m particularly fond of the work by sculptor Alison Lochhead, whos practice is based on memories.
Detail of Alison Lochhead’s Mine Map
Through living, we leave our mark on the earth which it retains. Alison works with different materials, all integral from the earth and with their own strengths and reaction to heat and to each other; iron, clay, oxides, wood. In the kiln alchemy takes place as the various materials are drawn together or reject each other, and these forms are the result. There’s an idea that there is no ‘wholeness’ to a memory…parts are fragmented, distorted, forgotten, rejected…this is shown literally through the form that Alison’s work takes. Her pillars of ‘memories’ are erected in the garden and in a field in groups, and you can’t help but feel a sense of fragility and a deeper experience when viewing them.
‘Memories are fragile and transitory; as is much of her work.’
In fact, this ‘experience’ when viewing Alison’s work applies to the whole trail. A bird landed on one of the bird sculptures during the opening yesterday and a few people laughed…that made me think. There’s something refreshing about being outside in the landscape not confined by space, walls, rules or roofs – experiencing art. Mid- Wales is such a beautiful place, and the artwork only reinforces this fact. Yes, Paintings may work best in the white cube format, but this sculpture trail is a living one…in a way it’s a performance – It’s reacting to and with the land.
That’s really quite special.