National Eisteddfod of Wales’ Visual Arts Exhibition

The application form for the National Eisteddfod of Wales’ Visual Arts Exhibition (competition) 2013 landed on my desk this week.

I’m gob-smacked that there is still no online application process for the open submission exhibition. To apply artists must:

“send their £20.00 fee, a completed application form, the Jpeg images or DVD works, together with a clear statement concerning the work to the visual arts officer at the following address: Eisteddfod Office, 40 Parc Ty Glas, Llanishen, Cardiff CF14 5DU”

I’m not suggesting they completely replace this real world process with a digital process. There are plenty of ancient artists across this country who would no doubt have a heart attack at the prospect of having to complete an online form. But, I’m a millennial. I don’t have a chequebook, I don’t have a writable CD drive on my computer in order to burn jpeg images to a disk, and a certainly can’t remember the last time I sent anything by snail mail.

The thing is, this postal application process is typical of Wales’ national art events. The Welsh Artist of the Year organisers offered no digital submission process either this year, instead opting for their usual expensive hard copy application forms.

I do wonder if it’s an age thing. I know the key organisers behind both of these events and they are not exactly young whippersnappers! I get the impression that these open submission events in Wales are organised in this way because that’s the way they’ve always done things. For example, I never get an invite to the Welsh Artist of the Year exhibition via email. It always arrives through my letterbox.

The expense of continuing to issue hard copy only literature must be phenomenal. There’s the cost of having the fancy leaflets and application forms printed, and then there’s cost of posting these papers out. In addition to this there is of course the man hours needed to stuff and label hundreds of envelopes.

Using a digital submission process alongside the traditional postal method would not only make these open submission exhibitions more widely accessible, but also help to reduce the administrative costs.

Of course I’d like to think that any costs that are made would be passed on to the artists and the organisers would reduce their submission fees.

This years Eisteddfod is charging a £20.00 submission fee for their Visual Arts Exhibition and that doesn’t guarantee you anything but a quick glance across photographs of your work by the judges.

That in itself is enough to put me off. I occasionally pay £1.00 for a lottery ticket with ambitions of winning a million pounds or two, or a large fraction thereof. Why would I pay £20.00 for the chance to win five thousand pounds and risk the feeling of dejection that comes with not winning the Eisteddfod’s grand prize – or worse still not being selected for the exhibition?

After all it is just pot luck. The organisers will receive hundreds of submissions no doubt from across length and breadth of the country. Whether or not one gets selected is ultimately going to come down the mood of the judges on the day of selection and possibly whether or not they recognise your work.

Between the expensive submission fee and hassle of having to prepare a hard copy submission there is no way I’ll be submitting anything for this year’s National Eisteddfod of Wales Visual Arts Exhibition, and in my humble opinion that’s their loss.

I always have the feeling that these exhibitions are incestuous, introverted; constantly looking inward on our country ignoring the bigger picture. Open submission events such as the Eisteddfod and the Welsh Artist of the Year need shaking up from top to bottom.

Lets get some new blood in and bring them all kicking and screaming into the twenty first century. The country needs some national exhibitions by Welsh artists that we can shout about and be proud of.

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Welcome to Roath

We ventured back into the heart of the big city today to visit Milkwood Gallery in Roath, Cardiff, to view their current exhibition, Welcome to Roath (Croeso I’r Rhath), curated by Bob Gelsthorpe.

“Shwmae a croeso i’r rhath, welcome to five responses to the locale of Roath. Welcome to observations of the overlooked, celebrations of the community, the old, the new, the cracks in the pavement and the spaces in between. Welcome to outside perspectives and insider explorations, welcome to an exhibition of CF24 and welcome to Roath” – (via www.woic.co.uk)

The exhibition features work by Laura Cooper, Carwyn Evans, Mark Houghton, Tiff Oben & Helene Roberts and Becky Williams. Some of these names are more familiar to us than others with Carwyn Evans having been awarded the Gold Medal for Fine Art in 2011.

There was a mixture of work on display including fabricated steel, wood and glass sculptures by Carwyn Evans, a old table top painted with bands of colour by Mark Houghton and a video ‘installation’ by Tiff Oben and Helene Roberts.

Interestingly the signage on the wall as we entered through into the gallery gave the Curator, Bob Gelsthorpe, equal billing as the artists. We weren’t familiar with his name prior to this exhibition but having done a little online digging we have discovered that he is a recent Fine Art graduate.

Apparently this exhibition was brought together, at least in part, via an open call online:

“Artists/ Makers of any level making work that is critically engaged but also ideally involves the geography, community or idiosyncrasies of Roath. We are currently looking for expressions of interest from artists/makers of any level from Cardiff or further afield in using the Milkwood Gallery as part of a group exhibition, Croeso I’r Rhath/Welcome to Roath” – (via www.isendyouthis.com)

Whilst the work that was exhibited maybe “critically engaged” at some level there was no apparent engagement between one work and the next in the context of the show. Any concepts revolving around the exhibition’s “Welcome to Roath” theme were also rather lacking which was a shame given that the exhibition purported to present a “celebration of the community“.

Tiff Oben and Helene Roberts’ did presented a video of someone (presumably one of the artists) wrapping bunting around a lamp-post in Roath but we found it rather uninspiring and any ideas that it might have been trying to convey were lost to the deafening silence screaming out from the void between the works.

Becky Williams also presented a locally inspired work entitled the Roath Exploration Experiment. This was a participatory piece that was sloppily represented by a wall of grainy postcard prints curling from all corners. This didn’t do much to encourage us to participate.

Milkwood Gallery is not a large exhibition space and the nooks and crannies resulting from the old architecture of the building would present a challenge for any Curator. In this instance however, there was a sense that the Curator had selected work for the show without any real consideration of how the works would work not only with one another but with space in which they were being exhibited.

The exhibition appeared not to have been curated but roughly assembled.

To suggest that the exhibition had been curated would imply that there was a dialogue between the works on display with regard to the overarching exhibition themes. Unfortunately we found the show lacking in dialogue and any engagement, critical or otherwise, with the exhibition’s central themes that were alluded to in the press release.

That’s not to say we didn’t enjoy some of the work. Mark Houghton’s painted tabletop, for example, was appealing but in the context of this exhibition it was difficult to get a handle on the work at a conceptual level. The work would appear to be a part of a wider practice which say nothing to us of the “geography, community or idiosyncrasies of Roath“.

We’ve complained before on this blog about the all to free and easy use of the word “Curator” and derivations thereof and this exhibition was a prime example of the way in which the term has been dumbed down to be nothing more than a fanciful word for an “organiser”, “administrator” or on occasion “collector”.

Whilst we’d certainly look out for an opportunity to view work by these artists in a different context, on this occasion we were left a little cold as a result of the (lack of) presentation and curatorial nous.

The show continues until the end of the month so there’s still time for you to visit the gallery and make your own mind up.

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The Lumen Art Prize

I discovered this week that Cardiff city is the proud supporter of the Lumen Prize. In their words:

“The Lumen Prize is an international award that celebrates the very best fine art created digitally. Our goal is to focus the world’s attention on this exciting, emerging genre of fine art through a curated competition that will find the very best examples of digitally-created art and then take this work on a global tour in 2013.”

It sounds like an ambitious project although I’m not quite sure what a “curated competition” is. The word “curate” and various derivations thereof seem to be bang on trend at the moment and so I guess the Lumen Art Prize organisers thought they’d better slip it in there.

Yes I know I’m being pedantic but there was a time in the not so distant future when to curate something meant more than to organise or simply compile a collection of things. There was once the understanding that a Curator is an expert in their field, normally following a considerable period of study and research which would enable them to orchestrate exhibitions (for example) with a degree of intellectual rigour.

These days it seems one can curate a competition or even a blog. It won’t be long before we start referring to our accountants as ‘Curators of Finance’.

Anyhow, that’s my carefully curated rant over. Back to the Lumen Prize.

Is digital fine art really an “exciting, emerging genre”? Digital art has been around for well over a decade if not for the best part of two. There are hundreds if not thousands of online galleries which house millions of digitally created artworks. Behance, Cargo Collective and Deviantart, for example, are three big online portfolio sites where artists from all around the world share their work.

Perhaps it’s the idea that the selected entries are works of “Fine Art” rather than just “Art” that is of importance. After all, the literature produce consistently refers to “Digital Fine Art”. But having looked through the short-listed artists artworks I cannot see anything special that would indicate that these are works of Fine Art. Then the Lumen Prize organisers muddy things even further:

“The Lumen definition of digital fine art: Exceptional Artistic talent expressed through the use of a digital app or software. It may include elements of graphic design, animation, illustration, photography and film as part of the creative process.”

So entries must be works of Fine Art but can incorporate graphic design, illustration and so on? Like the use of the word ‘curated’ that irked me above. The more I explore the remit of the Lumen Prize the more I think that the term “Fine Art” has been inserted into the literature under the assumption that it adds some intangible level of credibility to the project.

It certainly seems to have led to a certain type of digital art being selected for the short-list. Whether this is reflective of all the work that was submitted I guess we’ll never know but I for one certainly don’t find these images inspiring or engaging. Many of them look like amateur attempts at chocolate box art.

Despite the fact that this genre of art is apparently “exciting” and “emerging” the selectors seem to have short-listed work that looks like it is trying to replicate traditional methods such as painting and drawing.

Excuse me for a moment whilst I just bang my head against my desk…

I think that this project suffers from the same problem as the Cardiff Open I mentioned in an earlier post. The Cardiff Open suffered from restrictions that were too loose as it was bound only by geographical location. Similarly this competition suffers from only being bound by media. To suggest that the competition is curated as the organisers do is ludicrous when the subject matter of the works is so wide ranging.

I do like the Lumen Prize concept but like many such projects it seems to be lacking from any serious pre-planning which has resulted in a rather flaccid selection of work.

As I understand it they received nearly 500 entries to the competition and almost 1000 votes for the public vote. For an international project with such apparently grand ambitions this is a minuscule number of submissions and barely two votes per submission. If I’d submitted work myself I wouldn’t have been happy unless I’d received a couple of hundreds votes for my work alone.

I hope that artists aren’t discouraged from applying from future iteration of the Lumen Prize by the “Fine Art” tag or by the work that has been submitted so far.

The idea of creating digital displays of art in non-traditional locations is in interesting idea. I hope the Lumen Prize organisers are able to take a more open stance in future to encourage participation from a breadth of artists and not just those who consider themselves Fine Artists.

The three Lumen Prize winners will be announced at Cardiff City Hall on Friday 19 October 2012.

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Chapter Staff Tee Shirts

I popped over to Chapter Art Centre last month to enjoy a film and a couple of pints. It seems they’ve issued their staff with a new uniform since I was last there. Well half a uniform at least… staff tee shirts.

God only knows who designed them. They are black, the front is plain with no design or embellishments whatsoever whilst the reverse has the Chapter title cut out from a rectangle that graduates from red to yellow reminiscent of a sunset.

From a practical point of view they’re completely ineffective as you’re only be able to identify a member of staff from them if they have their back to you.

And from a design point of view they’re horrific. With all the talent available in Cardiff alone you think they would have commissioned a designer or illustrator to produce something snappy. I’m guessing that they either asked one of their fine artist (who from my own experience often lack any design sensibilities whatsoever) friends to come up with the design or else the staff team themselves all came up with a design each and they selected one to use by drawing lots.

Ok so I know this is only a small matter and yes I do have bigger gripes about Chapter. The thing is this sort of thing is indicative of the arts in Cardiff. Putting a little more time and thought into the production of these t-shirts wouldn’t haven’t been a big ask and everyone would have benefited; Chapter would have a better image and their guests would be able to identify their staff from any direction and not just as they’re walking away.

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The Cardiff Open

So I missed out on the opportunity to submit something for the Cardiff Open exhibition. Unfortunately I didn’t find out about it until the submission deadline had passed. It’s a little bit of a shame because it’s not often that geographically restricted shows include the Vale of Glamorgan within their boundaries.

However, hindsight is not a bad thing at all and after a little further inspection I’m not really that bothered to have missed out since the project seems to be lacking in intellectual rigour.

The remit of the Cardiff Open is as follows:

Cardiff Open will act as a platform for showcasing the best contemporary art practice from an open call of submissions.

Whilst the submission guidelines were as follows:

  • max. 3 images [jpeg 72 dpi or pdf. no more than 5mb in total]
  • details of all images [title, medium, size [cm], wall price]
  • current CV including contact details

How can the selectors for an exhibition that purports to act as a showcase for the best contemporary art in the region make their choices from nothing more than a handful of low resolution digital images without any context?

You’ll notice that instead of asking for an artist statement which contextualises the work the Cardiff Arts Collective asked artists to submit their CV.

I can only conclude that the selectors have chosen work by artists with a good track record (based upon the request for a CV) and/or artists whose work makes for a pretty picture at 72 dots per inch. Of course a pretty picture makes for a potential sale which is no doubt why artists were also asked to submit a wall price.

It’s a sad state of affairs but unfortunately symptomatic of many open call ‘art’ exhibitions that I’ve come across lately.

What really irritates me though is that this project has the support of the Arts Council of Wales. At least this is the assumption I making since the ACW logo is plastered all over the Cardiff Arts Collective website.

The Arts Council of Wales exists to “support the creation of the best in great art”.

I would argue that ill considered projects like this Cardiff Open exhibition do not present the best in great art. Instead we will be presented with a selection of works that are linked only by geography and by the fact that they satisfy the aesthetic tastes of the selection panel (who I assume were the Cardiff Arts Collective committee members).

It’s exhibitions like this that give the visual arts a bad name. They give the general public the idea that visual art is simply the creation of an image by relegating the intellectual values of the work

Without context visual art exhibitions are meaningless collections of images.

I’m all for regional exhibitions to highlight the strength and depth of work that is being produced but curators need to put more thought into these projects. Simply grouping all of the work together under one roof just because artists all live within the same county boundary is lazy at best.

Organisers of exhibitions like this should take the time to get to know the artists in their region and develop and understanding of the work produced. By doing so they’ll better place themselves in a position to produce an exhibition which works with the artist and their work to produce an exhibition that shows all involved in the best light.

Whilst I must applaud the organisers of the Cardiff Open for not charging a submission fee I fear that they will present us with a jumble of un-curated work.

I’ve no doubt that some, if not all of the work on display will be of a high calibre but it will be difficult to fully appreciate such work if careful consideration is not given to the presentation of the work in the context of the exhibition as a whole.

I suppose part of the responsibility should lie with the artists in as much as they should give some thought to the exhibitions they want to take part in and not exhibit for the sake of exhibiting.

Having said that I can understand that artists just want to see their art out there in the world.

Although I have concerns about the Cardiff Open exhibition I’ll reserve my final judgment until the show opens for us all to see.

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Art & Design Masters Exhibition 2012

We took the opportunity to sneak into Cardiff School of Art & Design at Howard Gardens earlier this week in order to have a look around their 2012 Masters exhibition. With smaller numbers of students studying at this postgraduate level Masters courses are held up as the flagships for their parent institutions. With this in mind we were looking forward to seeing whether this latest crop of students had produced any memorable masterpieces.

Those familiar with Howard Gardens will know that visitors are welcomed into the main gallery. This is a dedicated gallery space that hosts a programme of monthly exhibitions by both established and emerging artists. As with school’s undergraduate degree show earlier this summer this gallery space was given up to the exhibiting students for the duration of the Masters exhibition. In fact the main gallery housed an exhibition of work solely by MA Ceramics students.

We’ll come back to this exhibition space later though and instead start with a look at the work in the exhibition space behind the gallery. After all it’s better to finish on a high isn’t?

The exhibition space behind the gallery accommodated a mixed exhibition from students studying MA Fine Art, Masters of Fine Art, Masters of Design and MA Art and Design – no we don’t know quite exactly how all these courses differ from one another either.

With there only being nine students exhibiting across all four of these courses students work was scattered around the exhibition space making use of spaces that was most suitable for their work rather than being clustered together by course title as is sometime the case with the more jam packed undergraduate exhibitions.

The first body of work we encountered, by Jan Williams, was perhaps the highlight of this second exhibition space. We’ve come across Jan’s work once before but the work here was quite a departure from the traditional painting I’d experienced last time. One large wall was painted with geometric forms all in shades of white and the back wall was lime-washed. In the middle of the space hung a white painted wooden frame which could well have been the stretcher for a painting.

According the blurb accompanying Jan’s work she is interested in architectural forms and their relationship to memory and identity. This is quite apparent in the beautifully subtle work presented and in fact we found that the most engaging piece of work that she presented was a video documenting the lime-washing. Seeing the time spent working to repetitively wash the wall gave a good understanding of how the process could help the artist to contemplate her own identity.

The rest of the work on display in this second gallery space unfortunately left us a little cold.

Donna Lee Downe presented an MFA archive to which visitors were invited to contribute. This appeared to be cut up slices of paperwork and notes that she had collected throughout the course of her studies. The archive as presented was clearly a document of Donna’s MFA experience.

There was however, no direction for visitors; we were simply asked to make a contribution. As outsiders to the work we couldn’t really get our heads around the way in which shoe-horning visitor’s contributions into this archive was of any value to the project without any form of guidance. It seemed ill thought out and simply an act of audience engagement for the sake of it.

Paul Appleby presented a collection of photographs printed from glass negatives he found at the bottom of a cupboard full of junk. The act of presenting recently re-discovered images like this is hardly new and this presentation certainly wasn’t very inspiring. Of course there is a Romantic quality to old images like these but presenting them as the work of art themselves is tiresome. It’s a shame that Paul didn’t feel inspired to create some new work of his own as a result of this discovery.

Shaun Featherstone had created an installation based upon his Great Frock ‘n’ Robe Swindle newspaper which was an anti-Queen’s Jubilee publication. Obviously this exhibition was several months too late as the Queen’s Jubilee has been and gone and the work would have no doubt had more of an impact if exhibited at the height of the celebrations..The installation relied on a punk aesthetic to convey Shaun’s stance. This might have been effective in the late nineteen seventies but with the aesthetic having been popularised and made palatable by the fashion industry the impact of the work was questionable. We left the exhibition still undecided as to whether Shaun’s work was a serious stab at the monarchy or whether it was a tongue in cheek dig at those voicing their anti-monarchy opinions.

In addition to these art installations there were a number of other works by students who took a more design based approach to their practices. Unfortunately these were all let down by atrocious presentation.

Steven Coleman’s poster was slapped loosely across the wall whilst his panels of text were horribly mounted with grotesque bubbles of air between them and their foamcore support. Bobby Alkady’s name was hand written on his information plaque: clearly the student had forgotten to include this (some would say reasonable important) piece of information on his exhibition literature. Chris Moebus’s printouts were also horribly mounted.

There was also one sculpture constructed from magazines standing in the middle of two exhibition spaces that we were unable to attribute any credit to.

Fortunately our spirits were lifted as we headed back into the main Howard Gardens gallery. The MA Ceramics course in Cardiff is well regarded and it’s not hard to see why.

When recalling the show Sharon James’ ceramic sculptures are the first to jump into my mind. The sculptures were developed using 3D CAD software which produced the vividly coloured organic looking objects presented to us here. They were fair sized and somewhat surreal looking objects which gave us the feeling of entering into a strange world akin to Alice wandering through Wonderland.

Conor Maguire’s large black installation also made a lasting impression. It was great to see some work in this exhibition that really went some way to explode the idea that ceramics is ‘merely’ craft. The jet black sculpture was as far removed from the traditional pottery that the uninitiated may have expected to see as one could get. The work was comprised of elements including what appeared to be a brain alongside what could be read as a laden crucifix or even a pyre. This allegorical work provided a lot of fuel for thought.

The rest of the work on display fitted more closely with our preconceived idea of what a ceramics exhibition might look like but was totally engaging throughout from Alaa Abdullah’s Arabian influenced spheres to Laura Lillie’s objects exploring the processes involved in the creation and development of her work.

The exhibition of ceramics in the Howard Gardens gallery was produced to an exceptionally high standard as was the work on show. One can understand why the gallery was given over to an exhibition of work solely from this one course.

When the other courses involved in this postgraduate exhibition start to aspire to achieve the standards set by their Ceramics counterparts Cardiff School of Art will have surely have a Masters exhibition to be reckoned with.

Until then…


Cardiff School of Art & Design
Masters Exhibition
7 – 14 September 2012

You can view a digital copy of the exhibition catalogue as a pdf by clicking here.

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Contemporary Art Cardiff

I popped into the new contemporary art galleries at the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff this week.It’s the first time I’ve been back since they opened last year. Nothing has improved since then to be honest. If anything things in these galleries have gotten worse what with the current The Exhibitionists displays.

My main gripe with the ‘Contemporary Art Galleries’ at the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff is the lack of contemporary art in these spaces. One of the exhibitions is entitled “New Perspectives: “Landscape Art in Wales since the 1970s” and another is “Expressive Bodies: Art and the Body since 1950“.

Works from 1950-something or 1960-something are not contemporary. They are works from a period of recent history.

How can you justify displaying a painting from 1963 by Francis Bacon in a contemporary art space?

Admittedly there is a fine line to be drawn as I will accept the display of David Hockney’s 1964 painting ‘The Actor‘ in the same space. My argument for this would be based upon the fact the David Hockney is a contemporary artist; that is, he exists in our time.

The contemporary art galleries at the National Museum actually include works by Francis Bacon as mentioned above (died 1992), Ivon Hitchens (died 1979), Martin Bloch (died 1954) Evan Walters (died 1951) and even Gwen John (died 1939) – amongst others.

Things get older still when you walk through into the Derek Williams Gallery. Why is this included within the museum’s contemporary art space? I’m not sure that it includes by any living artists at all. In fact last year when I popped in to have a look at these galleries the Derek Williams Gallery included a work by Lowri as did the museum’s historic art galleries.

That’s a sure fire way to confuse the general public.

Of course there is some contemporary art in these galleries. There are some wonderful paintings by the likes of Brendan Burns and Terry Setch and fantastic sculptural work by Laura Ford.

These ‘Contemporary Art Galleries’ were opened last year as a part of a £6.5 million overhaul of the museum’s art galleries. What really irks me about these galleries is the use of the space relative to the fact that Cardiff has no real contemporary art spaces of national standing.

Of course there are one or two spaces like G39 who do an admiral job in supporting artists and their development. But Cardiff doesn’t have a contemporary art gallery that can compete with the likes of The Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh, Baltic in Durham or Ikon in Birmingham for example.

If used properly the museum’s galleries could be used to put Cardiff on the Art map with a bang.

When it was announced that the new contemporary galleries would be opening in the museum I had a hoped for so much more. Clearly the attitude to curating these galleries is that of a museum curator and not of a contemporary art gallery curator. Only a handful of the works on display have changed since I visited last year and this doesn’t encourage me to make a return visit to these galleries in the near future.

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Wales Blog Awards

The search is on for Wales’ Best Blogger… amateur blogger that is. Yes, the Wales Blog Awards are back. The categories this year include:

  • Best Blog (people’s choice – voted for by the public)
  • Best Writing on a Blog
  • Best Political Blog
  • Best Community Blog
  • Best Lifestyle Blog
  • Best Technology Blog
  • Best Sports Blog
  • Best Multimedia Blog (New category for 2012)
  • Best New Blog (New category for 2012)
  • Best Music and Entertainment Blog
  • Best Food & Drink Blog

That’s right, there’s no arts category as was spotted by @WeAreCardiff. Apparently arts blogs might be eligible for the Multimedia or Lifestyle categories. Having read the remit of the multimedia category I find myself rather disgusted by this suggestion. It would indicate that the organisers of the Wales Blog Awards think that an arts blog would be nothing more than a stream of pictures.

*deep breath*

There is a glimmer of hope though in that there is a possibility that an Arts category might be included in future if enough entries are received. However, with there being no clear category for the Arts I can’t imagine that many entries will be received at all. The current format doesn’t exactly encourage participation from those interested or involved in the arts now does it? Even a Miscellaneous category would have been better than none at all. I’m sure there are many other bloggers writing outside the remit of this list that will feel that they have been excluded.

It’s shocking really given the reach of the arts in Wales.We have renowned galleries dotted up the length of the country (G39, Oriel Davies, Mostyn, et al) and our capital city hosts the largest contemporary art prize in the UK; Artes Mundi. And that’s Just the visual arts.

The interest and participation in the arts in Wales is huge.

Having said all that it will not stop me entering this blog into the awards. I think ‘Best New Blog‘ might be the category for me.

Of course there’s not a kittens chance in hell of me getting a look in as the Wales Blog Awards are organised by Media Wales and their PR company friends. It’s just wouldn’t be good PR to support such a negative and vitriolic blog like this.

But, if you don’t ask you don’t get and so it is into the mouth of hell I march.

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Creative Cardiff

Actually it’s not just “Creative Cardiff” it’s “@CreativeCardiff“. Yes they are so bang on trend that they have adopted the ‘@’ from their Twitter handle as a part of their branding (I say branding but you must understand that I mean this in the loosest sense of the word). Unfortunately those folk behind @CreativeCardiff seem to have neglected to consider that there is more to contemporary society and the creative insutries than Twitter. Their narrow-mindedness is reinforced on their Get Involved page where they link to their Twitter account but none of their other online platforms.

For those of you who might not have come across this ugly monster @CreativeCardiff is “a showcase of the creative economy in Cardiff“. It’s “a myriad of different festivals, events and performances“. Yes that’s right, it’s not a myriad of the same festivals and performances but “different” ones.

ooooh!

Are you enraptured yet by this creative showcase yet?

Anyhow, back to the branding. @CreativeCardiff say of this “Creativity knows no bounds. That’s why the @CreativeCardiff brandmark has several incarnations, colours and fonts!”.

What a pile of shit!

What this actually says to me is that rather than waste money paying one of the local design companies that they’re looking to promote through this initiative why not use some of the shitty free fonts that were pre-installed on my computer to design a logo? After all designing stuff is easy right? Anyone with access to Microsoft Word and Paint can do it.

You’ll also notice that the @CreativeCardiff website is built upon the free WordPress Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha. The bosses clearly didn’t want to waste a penny in launching this project and yet again rather than approaching the city’s design community they thought they’d cobble together something on the hoof.

Creativity may know no bounds but @CreativeCardiff clearly knows no creativity.

Seriously! How can they expect anyone to take them seriously as a showcase for the creative industries in Cardiff if they themselves don’t employ any creativity in their appearance?

The fact of the matter is that the “myriad of different festivals, events and performances” which they purport to be bringing together would go ahead regardless of @CreativeCardiff’s existence. Cardiff City Council however cannot let such wonderful activities as SWN and the Cardiff Design Festival be so successful without trying to cream off a sliver of the accolades for themselves can they?

It really is rather disgusting.

If the Council really are interested in supporting the creative industries in Cardiff then they’re going to need to put their money where their mouth is.

The final line on their Get Involved pages reads “let’s not keep it a secret, let’s join together to get the message out about our creative city.”

Yes! Lets do that. But lets not do it through the ugly monster that is @CreativeCardiff. It really is a monster. The “several incarnations, colours and fonts” that @CreativeCardiff have put to use bring to mind the Hydra. The Hydra was a reptilian beast from Greek mythology that had many heads and breath so virulently poisonous that if breathed in by a man he would die in the greatest torment.

Where is Cardiff’s Heracles to slay this beast?

Step forth.


UPDATE (11 September 2012):Since writing this piece a few weeks ago Creative Cardiff have had themselves a re-brand. They’ve dropped some of the horrors that offended me as noted above but it still truly dull and uninspiring. Go have a look for yourselves.

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Mostyn Open Again

So Oriel Mostyn has announced it’s open call for 2013.

You’d think they’d have done a little research following last year’s show and garnered a little feedback from artists and makers outside of their own contemporary fine art bubble. They clearly didn’t come across this piece on the Cathedral of Shit (which shouldn’t have been hard to find) since they’ve upped the submission fee to a whopping £25.00 this year.

Given the austere times in which we live I can understand this. After all funding streams are dwindling and so it must be tough for a gallery in the back end of nowhere. Where better to scrape a few extra pennies together from than the pockets of artists struggling to keep their heads above water?

Perhaps the hike in submission fee is actually because they’re not expecting so many submissions this year after only making their application form available digitally as an Adobe Reader document.

As per Mostyn’s own instructions on their blog:

“YOU MUST FILL IN THE REGISTRATION FORM USING ADOBE READER ONLY”

This doesn’t really do much for widening participation in the project now does it?

If you have a butchers at the comments on the blog you’ll also discover that the only way to find out what the maximum size and age of the works that are eligible for this open call are is by emailing the gallery.

It’s a clear as muck then.

Nonetheless it’ll be interesting to discover which works they pull out of the lucky dip for the exhibition this time around.


Update 12 July 2012

clearly the lack of accessibility to the registration form as a result of it only being in an clunky Adobe Reader .pdf is showing as Mostyn have updated their blog to announce that the registration deadline has been extended by a week.

I guess they’re concerned that they’re not going to make enough money from the Mostyn Open enterprise this year.

Interestingly the .pdf information sheet that they distributed via email with an update about this extended deadline doesn’t include the registration form nor a direct link to the registration form on their finger out. Someone’s not doing their job properly are they?

These sort of failings wouldn’t fill me with the confidence to apply if I was an artist interested in this “opportunity”. If they can’t organise an effect open call what assurances is one going to get for their £25.00 that they are going to be able to organise an effective exhibition?

#Fail

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