A Man of Magic Imagining

When I heard some weeks ago that Ossie Rhys Osmond, one of the most dynamic champions of the arts in Wales, was suffering from cancer, I found it hard to imagine that it could happen. On the Welsh scene he is such a powerhouse of energy, a larger than life character, who pops up on radio, tv, and public events, and always adds something to the occasion. The idea of him being ill was alien and unthinkable. But then I heard something else, and on the arts grapevine in Wales you too may have heard this. He is not only undergoing standard treatment for his condition, but he is helping it along by drawing his tumour(s) and then he is rubbing them out. Rubbing them out, erasing them! What a fantastic way to do it, using the power of art to overcome.

My heart lurched when I was told, because I genuinely believe he will succeed, with all due respect to the hospital, the chemo, the doctors and so on, I do believe that the power in his own shamanistic method, so typical of the man, will do the job. And he will be back amongst us, championing the arts and playing the fool. Long may he shaman on.

On a Raft with Emrys Williams

The artist now showing at Oriel Mwldan is Emrys Williams whose installation of a Raft on the Mwldan is a thought-provoking piece, based on the idea of the artist’s studio as a raft. When the artist is truly involved with his work he leaves the external space and floats in a timeless space. I recently interviewed Emrys, and what he said rang bells  for me as a writer. The way that time disappears when completely absorbed in the process of creation, is an extraordinary raft-like journey. The creative process is the exquisite marriage of yin and yang. to make a taoist observation. The yin is the rising of the ‘idea’ from the inner self, the yang is the lifting of the brush or the pen, to translate it from the inner into the outer. The following is the review I did for the Tivyside Advertiser.

Emrys Williams : Raft Afon Mwldan

 

In the latest exhibition at the Oriel Mwldan, enormous canvases twelve foot by eight foot, bearing images and glyphs mysterious and mundane, adorn the walls and create the surrounding  edges of a world in which the raft makes its epic journey. In the centre lies the raft itself and upon its surface are all those items the artist deems to be necessary to make his journey into the unknown, each of which is symbolic to an aspect of his life, his creativity and the elemental quality of its gift.

Its maker Emrys Williams talks fluently on the subject of this original mixed media installation which is based on the idea of the artist’s studio as a location set free from the confines of its surroundings, moving into territory hitherto unknown, as it lives in the mind of the artist until conveyed into the world.

The images on the raft and the paintings are drawn from many sources, and also, the artist himself explains in interview, directly from the collected images lying in the sub-conscious.

‘At times when I am painting I am taken with an impulse to place something, or put a stroke, just so, and I know it is a part of the topography I am seeking,’ he says.

Here and there on the canvases are words  which are taken from the ‘Six words of advice’ from Tilopa an early Buddhist Monk. These words relate to being in the present and not continually referring back, or trying to look forward. For the creative artist this meditative state of ‘here and now’ has always been a prized state of being and one which produces extraordinary work.

This is an unusual piece, thought-provoking and contemporary, though its modernity does not neglect its inspiration, which contributes a timeless quality. The artist acknowledges that he has been stimulated and inspired by the ancient Buddhist teachings and also by the Egyptian artefacts in the British Museum, where the precious objects were packed in boxes and loaded on to boats for the afterlife, symbolic and awe-inspiring enough to cause him to begin to record his own journey.

The installation runs at Oriel Mwldan until 23rd February.