Welsh painter Caitlin Flood-Molyneux’s (a Buzz Culture graduate) recent solo exhibition Suspended In Time, a solo presentation of recent work, offers a personal reflection on how we resonate with memories, in particular with regard to trauma, loss and love. Now showing more work at Cardiff’s Blackwater Gallery, Megan Evans was keen to find out more.
You recently had an art show in London: how did you approach the process of collating work and getting the space to exhibit it?
Caitlin Flood-Molyneux: I did a recent big body of work entitled Suspended In Time, which I created for a solo show in London. I work and live in the Valleys, within the Welsh countryside, and the contrast is very interesting, especially as people ask if I live in London, as I do so much work there.
I had a goal to make a new body of work this year, and I wanted to focus on my life and things I have gone through, and then express it within my work. I wanted to make and create the pieces about a year ago, where I did my first show in the Valleys – this is a sequel to that.
Did you enjoy studying in Cardiff, as you are Welsh yourself?
Caitlin: I’m originally from Pembrokeshire, and started in Pembrokeshire College doing an Art Foundation degree. It was my mum that pushed me into doing art, as I disliked school. I always wanted to be creative, and knew I wanted to stay within Wales.
I didn’t do Fine Art originally, I started a BA in the Artist Designer: Maker course, where I made tables and ceramics, and tried to connect that to abstract painting, as that was what I used to do mainly. I just loved painting, as that was my main method of art practice, so I changed over. When I did an Erasmus year in Norway, things started to shift in my practice, when I focused on collages and painting. I did my Masters thereafter, and kept making work and doing shows.
Your work contains a lot of references to past experiences and is extremely intimate and personal. What has influenced you the most from your past?
Caitlin: Storytelling through my life, using imagery of grief and loss, was a good way for me to channel that energy and the things that come through those emotions. My work reflects those emotions and is reflective through landscapes and experiences. I wanted to focus on me as a person, and my life experiences, to help me – but also keep things vague, for people to forge their own stories from it.
I find it interesting that people find things to reflect on through looking at my work, and can see things differently to me – there’s no right or wrong. Art is a great release, and that’s why I do work in hospitals and community centres in the Valleys and other areas.
We’re speaking during Pride month: do you feel your art resonates strongly with audiences in the LGBTQ+ community?
Caitlin: I was commissioned to create a mural in London, a photo backdrop for their Pride event. It had imagery from the Stonewall riots, and from posters. The storytelling and history is important – a catalyst for everything starting, and how we came to have rights – and I wanted to draw that importance in a public way.
You’ve exhibited internationally, including New York, Japan, Norway and Venice – is there a favourite place your art has been shown?
Caitlin: Growing up in Pembrokeshire, in a small town, I never thought I would live out my dream. I am extremely lucky to have exhibited internationally. I absolutely love London: there’s a great scene there and lots of close friends, and it was the first place I exhibited, which was a milestone. The first weekend I exhibited there, I also exhibited in New York, and it was so surreal. I loved Norway as well. I just love putting my work out there for everyone to see.
Who are your contemporary art influences and inspirations for your work?
Caitlin: Different people for different reasons. Robert Rauschenberg for how he combines his mediums together, and Julian Stanczak, who’s a more abstract influence to my work.
Do you have a favourite piece of work you’ve produced?
Caitlin: It changes. A piece called Ambush was shown in my solo exhibit in London; that painting was the first in a collection of work, which I worked on for a long time, and which gave me the elevation for the future work. I started it, didn’t look at it for a month – I wasn’t sure what direction it was going in – left it for a bit and came back to it. That process allowed it to grow and become better.
I love your collage work: I’ve used that method myself, and I think it helped me to strengthen my relationship with creativity and the media.
Caitlin: I did it from a young age, such as from Argos catalogues! I actually kept it separate from my practice – I wanted to start painting, as it was a nice composition, and found that I had 100 unused collages stacked up.
I love doing collage workshops with people – it’s fun to see the creativity, and it’s so accessible. I can do it from my home, and you can tell a story with the work. I love that feeling that people can relate to the work, through different images.
Do you have any advice for emerging Welsh artists who want to succeed in the arts and culture field?
Caitlin: Keep going, and don’t feel disheartened by not getting into certain shows. Just apply for everything. You sometimes feel like it’s not going to work out, but if you are truly passionate about what you create and do, that should keep your mentality going. I recently started artist mentoring, to help emerging young artists, because when I started, I had to do everything on my own. Go to art shows, and talk with artists, but don’t stop making, keep it going, and remember why you love it so much.
Any future exhibits or workshops in Wales?
Caitlin: There is an exhibition in Blackwater Gallery in Cardiff Bay which opened on 23rd June, with two other Welsh artists [Eleri Haf Davies and Ian Mackenzie]. It includes work from my solo show, also some older large pieces that haven’t been shown. There are three shows coming up in London too, which is great. I’m so happy to be doing that.
Suspended In Time, Caitlin Flood-Molyneux, Blackwater Gallery, Cardiff Bay, until Fri 4 Aug.
Admission: FREE. Info: here
words MEGAN EVANS
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