Cath Fairgrieve, lecturer at Coleg Sir Gar, was one of fifty UK artists selected to re-work a book for The Library of Lost Books. She received a letterpress catalogue of a 19th century gentleman’s collection of proverbs, which she combined with images of a contemporary collection of ‘stuff’ belonging to her partner Andrew Griffiths.
Griffiths’ wunderkammer is on display in a new exhibition along with a selection of altered books from the Library of Lost Books.
These are accompanied by a selection of Coleg Sir Gar BA2 Painting students enamel concertina books, and by artworks made by lecturers whose work is influenced by the nature of collecting, hoarding and reconfiguring found objects.
Referencing conventions of museum display, Catherine Roche’s collection of porcelain teacups offers subjective stories rather than objective fact. Her mixed media ‘object’ drawings reiterate this sense of narrative fluidity as traces of artefacts emerge and recede.
The tradition of Victorian Welsh ceramics informs the motifs on Pete Bodenham’s contemporary plate and badge ephemera. Badges themselves have inspired paintings by BA3 student Tony Hicks, whilst real coins serve as the material for Robert Harding’s wall hung sculptures.
Original postcards similarly provide a substrate for drawings by Catrin Webster, and a lump of industrial slag, a waste product from the Welsh steel industry, is inspiration for an investigative and on-going series of ‘painterly portraits’ by Peter Spriggs.
Carol Gwizdak collects natural detritus to transform ordinary materials into extraordinary pieces of art-jewellery that make visible the overlooked and thereby challenge and inform ideas of preciousness.
A similar theme is echoed in the plant label installation by BA2 painting students, created as a response to the collection of plant medicines at the Apothercaries’ Hall in the National Botanic Garden of Wales.
Discarded objects also provide forms for casting into alternative materials through the work of Andrew Griffiths, Robert Harding and Cath Fairgrieve.
Robert Harding melts coins to create a metaphor about our financial climate and Griffiths uses disposable objects of no value such as plastic toys or a stale roll to create reliquaries that are both contemplative and humorous.
Cath Fairgrieve’s cast-iron first-aid-kit represents part of her own e-bay collection of Welsh mining memorabilia, providing a source material for political commentary.
Beate Gegenwart’s artists books are inspired by Walter Benjamin’s ‘Arcades Project’ which is itself a vast and meticulous collection of notes, images, quotes and citations. This information provides Gegenwart with endlessly differing configurations of imagery and text that crisscross throughout the paper pages to create 3D objects that are enhanced by laser cut forms.
Osi Osmond’s sketchbooks demonstrate how artists amass and collate their own images such as his sunsets on Carmarthen Bay painted from the same bench every day throughout a year (come rain or shine!), and collections of places and people seen on journeys to Israel, Sudan and Amsterdam.
Ciara Healey and Tijibbe Hooghiemstra similarly use the book format to document, contain and extend their breadth of practice by publishing editions to communicate to a wider audience through an affordable means.
This show is intended to inspire students to consider what they collect and how the process of collecting might direct their artistic practice with infinite diversity. It also illustrates the commitment of lecturers to develop their own work alongside teaching as a pedagogical means to share and communicate ideas, processes and techniques.