What does Wales mean to you? What is ‘Welshness’? These two questions were asked by Cardiff’s Blackwater Gallery in an open call back in June of this year, and following an overwhelming response, more than 20 artists got to exhibit their works when the Ein Cymru exhibition launched at the start of September.
The show includes paintings, sculptures, photography, collages, textiles, and mixed media artworks, all in the spirit of the Welsh. It’s a great way to promote emerging artists, giving them a platform to expose their skills and passion. Certainly, Ein Cymru also features more seasoned artists, names who will ring a bell for many art collectors, alongside the younger artists. Yet, that is not the point – what is important is what the art represents and what values it brings to the world.
David Paul Gould entertains the viewer’s eyes with his View Of Llanhilleth, a watercolour painting portraying the Valleys of south Wales. Karen Pendry depicts global warming and its consequences on the sea levels and Welsh coast via an abstract mixed media piece, while Paul Tatlow explores the “experience of being”: his piece, Have Faith, focuses on the feeling of belonging that moving to Wales brought to him.
The nation’s history speaks through Andy Faulkner’s Derelict Welsh Mill, which deconstructs the idea of old – the transformation from decay to new life – and Adele Giles’ The Girl And Her Furry Friend stares directly at the viewer, urging them to reach deep into their memories and recall experiences of growing up.
The wide array of styles and techniques presented on Blackwater’s walls showcases the individuality and diversity of creators living in Wales, and this opening brought together the artists, proudly standing by their artworks and mingling with the public, eager to soak in the exciting atmosphere. From abstract paintings through realism, impressionism and drawings, Ein Cymru takes us on a journey of creativity and talent spread out across Wales.
Walking alongside the walls and admiring the artworks, one can experience a feeling of melancholy. Here there are snippets from everyday life, captured by careful observance. The nostalgia of the old days sears through the canvases and reminds us about the history and lessons learned. Ein Cymru translates as ‘our Wales’, and its content backs this up: reflecting the nation’s ups and downs, struggles, and moments of happiness.
It is easy for the casual observer to find something for themselves in each of the artworks presented. From sunrise to sunset, there are moments hidden in our everyday life which, in Ein Cymru, shine and speak up, and to see Blackwater’s two question prompts answered with brush strokes and creativity feels moving.
Wales, we may then conclude, means calm, family, love, history, and a fleeting moment of the sunrise lingering on the rooftops. But what does it mean to you?
Ein Cymru, Blackwater Gallery, Cardiff Bay, Fri 1 Sept
On until Fri 13 Oct. Info: here
Words and photos EWA PAŁKA