Dan Rees - Nomas Foundation - Road Back To Relevance 2016

Let's See What Happens...

Let's See What Happens...

It takes place in six venues across Swansea city centre and will demonstrate a variety of working methods, including painting, performance, video installation and socially engaged practice. Each space is distinct from the other, but the work of each artist is connected by their shared experience of spending time together in Swansea, Xiamen and Shanghai. The exhibition revolves around the conversations they shared about their work, their lives, the places they live in, their diverse artistic methods and their exchange of ideas.

During his time in China, Tim Davies became perturbed by the rapid growth of the changing city of Xiamen, and the discord between the buildings at ground level and the aspirational vertical structures of the city. Davies has made two new contemplative video pieces: Chase (Xiamen) and Market 8, which both stem from his interest in how architectural spaces are negotiated and experienced in everyday life. Davies has for some time been fascinated by architecture as a symbol of power, representing political, social and cultural institutions, as seen in his recent work for the Venice Biennale. Owen Griffiths became inspired by the busy market in Xiamen which sells local produce, mainly food and animals, as this is an important hub for the bustling community there; he then began to use Swansea Market to explore the similarities and differences in these cultures. Griffiths’ work will be located in Swansea Market amongst the local Gower produce and the Welsh trinkets which are made in China; he will be constructing a work entitled, Market Place, in which to continue the conversation. He is also working with Swan Gardens home for the elderly Chinese community in 2

Swansea. Additional activities include poetry, objects relating to the Glynn Vivian’s collection and a volunteer programme. Paul Emmanuel also considers the importance of place, developing themes about land management, influenced by his home in amongst the farming community of the Swansea Valley, and the time he spent at Zeng Huanguang’s studio in Xiamen, where he made watercolour sketches of the plants he saw there. Emmanuel will show a series of paintings using Chinese inks, alongside a series of object- based work made using rubbish and recycled materials found in Xiamen and transformed into "flies" by a local expert Gethin Williams for fly fishing. In other works, such as Black Narcissus, Emmanuel refers to darker themes in his practice such as exoticism, alienation and sexuality, as suggested by the title Black Narcissus taken from the Powell and Pressburger film of the same name.

Other artists use performance to convey their ideas, such as Yingmei Duan, who recently exhibited at the Hayward Gallery as part of Art of Change: New Directions from China. Duan’s work revolves around ideas about communication and love, and making direct contact with the viewer. Her work Happy Yingmei is inspired by Oscar Wilde’s The Happy Prince, and in her performance she creates a dreamscape, an atmospheric forest glade in which she meets each person who enters. It is an intimate experience in which she communicates by handing out "wishes" through sound, writing and movement. Fern Thomas also includes performance in her exhibition at the Ragged School. During her stay in Xiamen she spent time at a small Buddhist convent there. This intimate and precious experience has inspired a series of personal rituals which she enacts to camera, drawing on collected objects, dreams and memory to create a narrative and soundscape on a series of screens. The two ‘mountains’ erected in the space, reference the location of the Buddhist convent and Huanguang’s studio, and will act as an arena for a number of actions during the exhibition. These actions will coincide with the nuns’ prayers over six thousand miles away in Xiamen, in an attempt to communicate with them and convey her experiences to the audience.

Shanghai-based artist Maleonn will be continuing an ongoing project, Studio Mobile, where he travelled to 25 Chinese provinces, photographing 200,000 people in a mobile photo studio. Maleonn was inspired to create this work by his desire to collaborate with the people he photographs, attempting to create a dialogue. Rather than create works in his studio, he takes the studio out, where ideas, props, stage sets become part of a collaborative act. He will be photographing selected people in costumes borrowed from local museums along with props he brings with him from China. His surreal photographs bring together different worlds, both imagined and real, and convey the contemporary global condition. 3 Zeng Huanguang, like many of the artists in this exhibition, will be communicating directly with visitors to these shows. Huanguang’s past works include sculptural installations using found objects and socially engaged works, where different communities become part of the artworks. During his time in Swansea, he began to explore ideas of peaceful protest and spent time at the Occupy site in London outside St. Paul’s Cathedral. His re-enactment of Occupy as an art installation, involves participation and conversation in the form of tents, graffiti, posters and flyers. It also asks questions about the relationship between activism and art, and the power to shape our own lives.

All of the artists, using their own practice as a starting point, have explored ideas and produced work influenced by their unique responses to this experience. Ritual, spirituality, sustainability, political protest, in both China and the UK, merge and collide creating a unique and engaging series of installations across the city centre. However, above all, this is a conversation.

Karen MacKinnon, curator of the exhibition says:

"The title

Let’s see what happens... began as a working title, reflecting the deliberate openness and calculated risk at the heart of this project to allow something to grow slowly over time. It is deliberately open-ended, a question about how to work internationally, cross-culturally and collaboratively in a way which grows organically and enables a more meaningful interaction between not only the artists, but also local and international partnerships, organisations, audiences and communities who may be involved and touched by this project in some way". A Glynn Vivian Offsite exhibition in partnership with Coastal Housing, Elysium Gallery, Mission Gallery, Ragged School, Swansea Market and YMCA Swansea.

Let’s see what happens…

has been supported by The Arts Council of Wales, British Council - Connections through Culture, British Council Wales, Confucius Institute, Swansea Metropolitan University and Wales Arts International.

We are grateful to Monkey Bar, National Waterfront Museum, Swan Gardens, Swansea Museum and Swansea Little Theatre for their support. Visit www.glynnviviangallery.org a full programme of talks, events and activities for Let’s see what happens…

All events are free, everyone welcome.


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