Helen Booth and Synapse

The current exhibition showing at Oriel Mwldan is ‘Synapse’ by Helen Booth, an artist who showed previously at Mwldan in 2007, and who was awarded the prestigious Pollock Krasner award in 2012. Her work with installation, drawing and painting is all about interconnectedness, some of  which is explored through works in graphite and oil on gesso, and some with paint, and most interesting in this particular show in an installation titled ‘Strings’. This piece is composed of multi-layers of strings, some hanging in dense cluster, and others drawn out and stretched, capturing something akin to the complexity of the threads of a spider’s web. Periodically a light sweeps across the strings, which highlights the darker corners of it, and illuminates the mass from which the detail is drawn, and the fact that all is connected. The work is inspired by The Nature of Spirit a work written by Alan Turing in the mid-1930s. Turing’s work indicates the idea that there is a direct connection between the internal workings of the brain and the universe as a whole, and the more one looks at the work on display the more one sees the connectedness everywhere. Along with the installation are largely monochrome paintings and drawings the essence of which is the effect of light, in ‘Separation’ the image captured is from the view in the artist’s studio window during the winter, and the presence of snow, and the skeletal landscape are the central theme of the picture. The more geometric pieces as in ‘Hidden Landscape’ bring out once more the idea that beyond everything we see in natural colours and shapes there is a structure which is joining the one to the many, and through the fragile imagery the artist attempts to illuminate those things which might normally be lost in the darkness which is in opposite to the light. This is an experimental work in total, by a conceptual artist who is attempting to encapsulate difficult ideas into a form which will be both enjoyable to the observer and offer them food for thought. In her own words ‘Light makes geometry of landscapes and rock formations and distills everything else – skeletal trees and melancholy weather – to scratches, scuffs and scars.’ Synapse is showing at Oriel Mwldan  until 17 May 2014

A conversation with Helen about the exhibition can be seen on theCul Culture Colony website

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.