London and Sean’s Lament

I love to hear of a local artist taking their work to a wider world so I was genuinely pleased to hear that Sean Vicary’s short film ‘Lament’, is now showing in London at the Standpoint Gallery with several others in  (Un)Natural Narratives. Lament, was originally shown in Cardigan, at the Small World Theatre, and I wrote about it at the time for the Tivyside. Even now two years later I have a clear memory of moments within the film which made me catch my breath, or provoked a yearning for something, perhaps a lost landscape or perhaps simply a vanished youth, a lost part of the self.

The film was made as a collaborative piece with musician Ceri Rhys Matthews, and is an evocative and beautifully crafted animation, lifted to an even more affecting experience by the haunting musical element.  Sean Vicary explains that he was inspired to make it in part to capture how deeply his early years of living on the borders of England and Wales in Shropshire had affected him. His awareness of a far away land beyond the hills clearly coloured his childhood dreams, and though it was later in life that he moved to Wales, his awareness of its proximity and its call had been with him throughout his growing years. An early Welsh poem Canu Heledd, offered him a profound insight into the land where he was brought up.  The poem tells the story of the defeat in the 7th century of the Welsh king Cynddylan, and the fall of Powys. It describes a ruined land, a slaughtered royal house and the rich Powys lowlands lost forever to Wales, and thereafter recognised as a part of Shropshire The film itself has a poetic structure, with a rhythmic thread and repetitive symbolic visual language. Its theme could be likened to Dylan Thomas’s Fern Hill, where the adult poet looks back and both celebrates and grieves his lost youth. The visual impact of Lament lies in its combination of  images of the natural environment, with the use of animation to depict the fragility of life, and the gradual decay that occurs inexorably around us. The lament, is the wail that comes across time from the ancient poet, and equally from the bereaved in any age. The whirling trees, the uplifted totems, the dancing skeleton and the throbbing core, or heart,  all speak of the ‘unbearable lightness of being’ and the inevitable aptness of  the aphorism ‘in the midst of life we are in death’.

The Rhod Annual at Melin Glonc

Small World and the Rhod Show

A talk at the Small World Theatre last Friday evening created a brilliant introduction to  this year’s week long celebration of art by the Rhod Collective at Melin Glonc,  Drefelin, Drefach Felindre.

Speaking at Small World were Sara Rees, curator of this year’s show, and also Maria Rebecca Ballestra the Artist in Residence for the duration of the show, who talked about the work she has been bringing together from around the globe with an ecological significance. All of it having influenced her planned contribution to this year’s Rhod.

The speakers introduced the theme for the show; Future NatureCulture which is the  title and the subject matter of the work being assembled by a number of international and local artists. By Sunday, when the event opened there was an enthusiastic crowd gathered at the site of the show, many having been drawn to the event by the talk at Small World.

Within the grounds of the mill were some wonderfully imaginative installations and sculptural pieces, Johana Hartwig’s Catapult Tree, with its colourful and eye-catching reach, brought a small round of applause from several people seen admiring it; Pascal-Michel Dubois’ Nowhere to Hide your Horsepower’ where the interior of the car with its  black and white freesian style seats sat beside the river, was both witty and interesting and Stefhan Caddick’s Mothmusic which lit up with noises at night, was quite beautiful. The installation by Rebecca Ballestra, the artist in residence, was an important addition to the international work she has been constructing and compiling during her travels round the world and her Gold Bullion and Art Sowing were thought-provoking and imaginative.  In an exciting departure from the material world into the virtual one, local film and animation artists Sean Vicary and Steve Knight created a virtual sculpture which for the exhibition was embedded in the landscape, visible only via the app on screen, and a fabulous surprise to see such a futuristic piece of work in place. There was more, much more, artists like Jo Lathwood, Rawley Clay, Helen Clifford, Fern Thomas and Matthew Smith, all contributed so much to what was a remarkable array of excellent work, and in spite of the weather promising less than fair, spirits were high, and the general atmosphere was one of appreciation that such a strong showing of artists from both Urban and Rural environments should once again feel drawn to display their work at Rhod this year.