What is the Artist’s Voice? Art of every form and media is more than capable of speaking for itself. It can stand alone in a museum, or a personal collection, and face scrutiny without any outside knowledge. However, hearing the perspective of the artist can add a new dimension to the work. It can contextualize a piece within the personal experience within which it was created, and add a layer of interpretation which was not there previously. While it doesn’t necessarily change the fundamental experience of the artwork, it can put it under a new light.
The Artist’s Voice series highlights some of Wales’ most accomplished contemporary visual artists. We have addressed each of them with a single question: What is the work that you identify as the moment you found your voice? The diversity of their responses demonstrate the variety of methods with which these different artists view their work. Each perspective offers new insight into the thriving community of Welsh visual art as a whole.
In a brand new series from Wales Arts Review, we ask a selection of Wales’ leading visual artists to present and discuss the work that they identify as the moment they found their ‘voice’. To kick off the series, we speak to one of the most influential and successful Welsh artists of modern times, Shani Rhys James.
In the second in a new series, Iwan Bala discusses the work that he identifies as the moment when he found his ‘voice’ as an artist.
Described on more than occasion as the enfant terriblè of the Welsh arts scene, Neale Howells has exhibited all over the world to much acclaim. Although often seen as an outsider, Neale Howells‘ work is simultaneously welcoming and forbidding. Born in Neath and based in Port Talbot, his work remains that of a distinctive voice in Welsh culture, and one that will continue to be heard by a wider and hungrier audience as time goes by.
Martyn Jones is a contemporary painter who works from his studio based in Cardiff. Jones graduated M.A. Fine Art, at Chelsea School of Art, London and was awarded Junior Fellowship at Bath Academy of Art. Among his tutors were the British artists Patrick Heron and Peter Kinley. Martyn has been widely exhibited, including a solo show at the Robert Steele gallery in New York.
Claudia Williams was born in 1933. A well-known figure on the Welsh arts scene, she has exhibited widely over the last fifty years, and her work features in many important public and private collections. Claudia was elected to the Royal Cambrian Academy in 1979. She is an Honorary Fellow of Bangor University. A hugely popular retrospective was held at the National Library of Wales in 2000. But as well as being cherished and highly accoladed in Wales, Claudia is also lauded in France, where she lived for fifteen years. During this time she was awarded the Silver Medal by the Academy of Arts, Sciences and Letters. Claudia’s paintings and drawings usually reflect the domestic world of children and grandchildren, family gatherings and seaside trips. She has also touched on more controversial issues, notably the drowning of Tryweryn. Her obvious love of the subject matter, allied with a rigorous eye for composition and colour, and the quality of her draughtsmanship combine to produce paintings of great integrity and broad appeal.
Clive Hicks-Jenkins’ paintings are represented in all the main public collections in Wales, as well as others in the United Kingdom, and his artist’s books are found in libraries internationally. A retrospective exhibition comprising some 200 works from across the artist’s career loaned from public and private collections was held by the National Library of Wales in 2011 to coincide with his sixtieth birthday. A substantial multi-author book devoted to his work was published by Lund Humphries in 2011, in which Simon Callow called him ‘one of the most individual and complete artists of our time’.
In the latest in our series looking at the breakthrough work of artists, French-Quebecker artists Valériane Leblond opens up about her attachment to the Welsh landscape, her technique, and her development as an artist.
Karen Ingham is an interdisciplinary artist-designer and filmmaker. She gained an MPhil and a PhD with the University of Wales for her research into historical and contemporary art and science collaborations in the biomedical domain. She is an awardee of a Major Creative Wales Arts Prize and of AHRC and Wellcome Trust awards. Karen Ingham’s work is internationally exhibited and disseminated and has been shown at the ICA London, the Berlin, Sundance, and Edinburgh Film Festivals, Somerset House London, Waag Amsterdam, and The National Museum and Gallery of Wales amongst other venues. She has several publications in distribution with Dewi Lewis Publishing, Ffotogallery Publications, Seren Books and CG Publishing.
Mary Lloyd Jones is an internationally renowned painter and print-maker, and author. As she explains in this revealing article, her work draws on the influence of ancient cultures and languages, and holds a particular preoccupation with the context of her own landscape. Earlier this year Mary Lloyd Jones was the recipient of the Glyn Dwr Award for an outstanding contribution to the Arts in Wales donated by the Lambert family and Y Tabernacl Trust, whose patronage of the Arts is making a difference to West Wales. To this honour she also adds being accepted as a member of Learned Society of Wales in April 2016. In previous years she has received two honorary fellowships to Trinity College Carmarthen and Aberystwyth University and an Honorary Doctorate of the University of Wales, Cardiff.
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Alys Conran is at the forefront of the Welsh literary scene. Her debut novel Pigeon won the Wales Book Award in 2017, as well as numerous other accolades, including the Rhys Davies Trust Fiction Award as well as being shortlisted for the International Dylan Thomas Prize.