OPENING EVENT JUNE 28th 6pm RUNNING UNTIL JUNE 29th
The culmination of some weeks hard work sees its fruition on June 26th when GS Artists intern Scott Mackenzie debuts his Artist at Work show NOTHING HAS CHANGED featuring digital art, installation and photography.
Subtitled “From Aberfan to Grenfell”, the work provides a cross-section of the zeitgeist, exposing raw nerves and shattered attention bearing on our personal and political stasis at a time of great – or is it apparent? – change.
Part of GS Artists’ “Artist at Work” scheme that has already featured estimable talents such as Tim Davies, Tomos Sparnon and Sarah Poland, Scott’s show is a fine addition to this series of shows highlighting contrasting techniques and perspectives across a wide spectrum.
Scott Mackenzie is an artist based in Swansea, who graduated from Swansea college of Art in 2016 with a degree in Fine Art. His work is primarily concerned with issues of inequality and identity politics in the U.K. Using a range of mixed media from photography to sculpture and text that incorporates symbols and motifs that playfully construct a sense of ‘who we are’ and where we may be going.
“Treasure in Stillness” is a dynamic, dramatic exploration of natural colour and movement, lines collide and dance making new tones where they cross, as with all relationships, where energies meet, something greater than the sum of its parts is created. Elements of tribal art are celebrated using paints and inks created from natures own pallet, Sarah makes them herself using oak gall, and iron rust and in this sense the whole process is part of the final works. The space lends itself perfectly with an abundance of light and has allowed Sarah to be unintimidated by size, some canvases are huge. Natural geometry vibrates throughout, tree rings, ripples in ponds, falling rain and snow and in this sense one feels enveloped in something fundamentally close to the Earth, something ancient, almost hieroglyphic at times. The moon is given a platform via a unique photographic technique and is exploited making erratic blurred lines from capturing the heavenly body, aesthetically akin to capturing a ghost in motion, the camera allows the moon to draw. Sarah won the Glynn Vivian Open in 2018 and it’s easy to see why with this bold, kinetic glorious collection.
Call Centre, Myles Mansfield’s new show,opened on May 31st at 211 High Street Swansea. A highly original and inventive show curated by Myles and Benesek Monk, featuring kinetic, interactive and steel sculptures and painting, its “analogue art” approach is at once retro-futuristic and removed from time, a peculiar amalgam of very human concerns and primitivist alien resonances. Evoking the existential challenges of high technology via low technology making, it is funny and fascinating in equal measure.
Myles, an alumni of Swansea College of Art, has exhibited with and been a significant part of GS Artists. Recently he did residency at Elysium Gallery. Known for his meshing of masterpieces with mixed media, Call Centre continues this work in the form of old telephone books overpainted with features of Old Masters’ major works.
Elsewhere, an automaton merrily smashes a keyboard, kept company by an ungainly but elegant sculpture constructed from diverse bicycle parts and other mechanical elements. Strangely but perhaps inevitably, the automaton’s robotic actions, triggered by pressure pads, assumes a meditative quality, its repetitive stress-less self-absorption a contrast to the often angsty tech’ engagements of the human beings.
GS Artists asked Myles about Call Centre, its background and propitious inventiveness.
1. What was the genesis of Call Centre?
Call Centre came about because of the residency that was offered to me by Elysium. I felt that the residency should be used to step away from my normal practice and explore something new. Site-responsive work interests me and I thought that the fact that the studios were a call centre in the past, was a good starting point.
2. To me, Call Centre could be called “analogue” art. As with your paintings, it seems to play with but also honours the canon. Yet it has a very serious subtext?
As in all of my work, I try to ensure that it is accessible, but has a deeper level of meaning, that has cultural significance and can be seen to fit the contemporary zeitgeist.
3. The performative aspects of the show are especially compelling. What gave you the motivation to create these?
I believe that contemporary art has issues with accessibility and it is important to me that whatever I create can be appreciated by the layman. I felt when setting up the show that theatre was needed. The Deleuzian concept of the “encounter” is of particular importance to me when creating work, a priority for me in the design stage of my work.
4. Call Centre is a tough act to follow? What do you have in mind to make next?
Not sure, but I am blessed with ideas every day, so I’m hopeful that something significantly interesting for me to pursue will come up.
5. What has your involvement with GS Artists been? You’ve exhibited at the gallery. In this and any other way, how has your involvement with GS Artists been part of your practice?
During the planning for our first group show at Galerie Simpson, Jane Simpson said she wanted me to work within the space and make new stuff. This scared the hell out of me at first, but has completely changed the way I view my practice: I love the challenge of coming into a space and stepping away from my usual work. It’s scary but invigorating and often feeds back into my main practice. We did two group shows like this and both were really fun and made me grow and mature quite rapidly as an artist.
6. As with much work embedded in and drawing heavily on the past, yours is retro-futuristic, equally calling to the future?
I have a theory that when we appropriate objects and art from the past, and make new work with them, it becomes a way of assimilating past culture with contemporary culture, by keeping it relevant. I think recontextualisation of historical art is a critical part of accepting and coming to terms with the fast changing world that we now inhabit.
GS Artists is pleased to welcome as interns the Axe Head Collective, four postgraduate Swansea College artists.
Axe Head Collective was founded in 2017 by four UWTSD Swansea College of Art Fine Art undergraduates, Alina Skorohoda, Demian Johnston, Jeremy Gluck, and Melissa Rodrigues, who, having become friends and discovered an ease in communication and collaboration, determined to curate a self-directed group show at Volcano Theatre.
Named after a quip from Alina, to considerable aplomb the first Axe Head to Everything show took place in March 2018 at Volcano, featuring nine UWTSD undergrad fine artists. The following November the four curated a show of their work exclusively for Creative Bubble, Studio 95 – Promote Harder. And in March 2019, the second Axe Head to Everything show, subtitled Cut & Run, took place at Volcano.
work spanning painting, installation, video, sound art, and digital art, the
Collective aspires to collaborate with and celebrate Swansea’s thriving art
community, curating further shows and soon seeking funding to this end.
at GS Artists is a fantastic step forward for the Collective, and for GS
Artists will bring to the table diverse skills including exhibition curation
and planning, public relations and social media expertise, energetic engagement
with the UWTSD and wider local artist community.
Axe Head Collective looks forward to learning requisite skills and following in the footsteps of UWTSD postgraduates now co-directing the gallery and, of course, benefiting from working closely with Jane Simpson, whose experience and initiative inspires and motivates them to grow under the GS umbrella into a Collective with a future in the local and larger art community.
An Axe Head exhibition at GS Artists is opened October 18th, 2019, running until October 31st.
Axe Head Collective Artist Statements
artwork explores the notion of woman’s duty to the world. She responds to the
feelings of obligation that haunt women everywhere. Alina uses domestic objects
in her work. Through altering these objects, she questions attitudes, fears and
unwritten rules which have formed a hostile environment for women and their behaviour
Demian Johnston @demonstuff
practice looks to develop internal mindscapes involving multiple symbols and
thoughts to bridge the physical process and mental or spiritual state, and
individual and collective consciousness. Building on a growing body of
work featuring dynamic installations with energy concentrated by their
confinement, his work is rarely figurative, encompassing dimensions of
unpredictability and naturalness.
Jeremy Gluck @nonceptualism
Working as a fine artist in
digital art, film, installation and mixed media, Jeremy Gluck’s uncompromising
works confront the viewer, encouraging a physical, sensitive, or conceptual
experience of each. Radical artistic engagement is the mission statement.
Rejoicing in subverting the artist’s
self-concept and corrupting the canon in ways playful and perverse, undermining
previous hierarchies and perceptions of what is ‘art’ and is not, Gluck’s work
reflects the powerful dichotomy, which exists between the narcissism of the
digital age and the need for a stark, political commentary on the
Through the utilisation of a raw typography and
a monochromatic palette, Gluck invites the audience to consume less and engage
more, therefore negating the idea of art having a literal presence.
Melissa Rodrigues @missbalencantefineart
Rodrigues’ work uses a variety of materials to explore issues of displacement, belonging, and cultural identity. Addressing issues concerning the movement of people across the world, immigration, sense of belonging, cultural identity and the rhetoric of otherness are the bases from which Rodrigues’ work blossoms. Rodrigues’ work has developed with the notion of cultural identity and aims to explore the influential factors in the construction of a cultural being. Lately Rodrigues’ work has a new element added to it, recognising textile as a piece that plays an important role in collectiveness and collective identity, Rodrigues has been exploring and researching the routes of these pieces of cloth throughout history, their importance in our understanding of self as members of social groups, and the misconceptions about them. For this piece, Rodrigues proposes a destruction of labels, symbols, preconceptions and expectations we place in and on “others”, based in our understanding of “them”, instead seeking similarities.
Axe Head to Everything II: Photography by Mitja Zupanc
Sarah Poland has been GS Artist‘s latest resident, using the space to create new works. Supported by the Galerie Simpson Artists team and very generously by a Research and Development grant from Arts Council Wales. On Sunday May 26th, at 2pm she will be quizzed by Artist Alex Duncan about her activities.
She says of the time, `This opportunity has enabled intense work and playful development through use of the gallery space. Having the extensive space to lay out works and view them all together has helped create surprising relationships and unexpected collaborations. Endlessly moving work around the room, I create situations where I observe the changes in surface, the magic of the oak gall and its ability to change on differing supports. There is a fascinating ‘coming and going’ of the colour and in different moments, colours flicker and come to the surface or recede within the overall structure.
Making larger work I can engage physically and spatially, hoping to build relationships between the materials and the abstract, between nature and transformation, The presence of landscape and being in it is the source. The project title Treasure In Stillness relates to the wisdom found when one is still and also to the duality of combining an art practice with the challenges of motherhood”
Owen Griffiths is the latest in our program of professional artists that use the gallery as their studio. Owen will use the space to explore alternative ways of mapping. In the gallery, he will be drawing large-scale works that connect to the wider mapping theme of Owen’s practice. This 3 week residency prepares the ground for a future large scale workshop and continued conversation later in the year.
Owen Griffiths’ social practice and research is connected to land use, urbanism, community food systems and ideas of challenging normative urban design practices. Developing democratic and equitable processes is central to his work with people and communities. He sees community land projects and alternative models of ownership as vital in our work to re-imagine the future of our cities and environments.
Griffiths studied for his MFA with Nils Norman at the radical alternative pedagogic space The School of Walls and Space at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen.
He is a Creative Wales Ambassador to the Arts Council of Wales and a British Council USA Fellow, both of which have enabled him to research land use and community growing networks across USA and Europe.
Griffiths has worked with Cultural Olympiad Wales, Common Ground, National Museum Wales, Gentle/Radical, Artes Mundi, Swansea Asylum Seekers Group, Trevallis Homes, Valleys Kids, British Council USA, Natural Resources Wales, National Trust, PEAK Cymru, HMP Prisons Services, Arts Council Wales, Social Sculpture Research Unit, Engage Cymru, Design Commission for Wales, Wales Arts International.
Griffiths also works as a consultant and as a workshop leader/facilitator for culture/heritage organisations across the UK.
He is a member of Scandinavian based research collectives ATB and Office in Bed.
Next up at GS Artists, is our very own Director Tomos Sparnon, the next Artist at Work for a short residency.
He says “I am really looking forward to making new artwork in GS Artists Swansea over the coming weeks.
I wish to experiment with materials and play with ideas that have been on my mind recently. In particular, I want to consider the possibilities of turning a small sketch in my sketchbook into 3D.
I am excited about using the gallery space as a studio and about creating work in a different location. I do not know what the end result will be or whether there will be a ‘finished’ work, but this I find inspiring”