Oriel Lockdown artworks bought for National Art Collection by the National Library of Wales
Aberystwyth Arts Centre is pleased to announce that three artworks from the ground breaking 'Oriel Lockdown’ exhibition at Aberystwyth Arts Centre in 2021, are new additions to the National Art Collection at the National Library of Wales.
The Oriel Lockdown exhibition launched when the Arts Centre reopened on the 21st June 2021 and celebrated the value that the arts played over the period of the pandemic. With most of us confined to our houses and the local vicinity, a huge amount of people including amateur and professional artists were turning to art and creativity to see them through the pandemic and Aberystwyth Arts Centre wanted to capture a snapshot of this unprecedented time. Over 1,000 submissions on Instagram and email were received. Anthony Shapland, curator at g39 gallery, Cardiff and Ffion Rhys, curator at Aberystwyth Arts Centre spent much time deliberating on how to select from such an enormous number of submissions.
The artworks chosen by the National Library of Wales are Stiwdio Ynysig / Studio Island film by Manon Awst, Cegin / Kitchen by Kim James Williams and Twnnel / Tunnel by Alice Forward.
Manon Awst made the film ‘Studio Island’ during the first lockdown in 2020, when we were all stuck on home turf and trying to make sense of our new daily structure. It was a matter of using what was directly to hand, mainly from her sketchbook and the surrounding landscape. Then Beth Celyn composed the beautiful soundtrack to accompany the visuals. Manon stated: “It was wonderful to show it in Oriel Lockdown next to all the other artworks capturing the essence of that strange period in different ways. I'm honoured that the National Library has purchased my work and that it's now part of our National Collection.”
Kim James Williams ink drawings are about time spent looking, being in the moment becoming a visual diary, celebrating the everyday. Kim said:
“When Ffion (Aberystwyth Arts Centre curator) called me to say that the National Library of Wales had purchased my drawing, ‘Cegin’ to add to Wales’ National Art Collection, I was quite emotional. It’s a domestic scene that I’m sure was being replicated all over the country, even the world, as we hunkered down and found solace and pleasure in simple domestic events.” She continued, “It is a great privilege to be part of a collection which has inspired me over and over again; all artists stand on the shoulders of the makers and creators before us. I’m proud to be represented, as part of Welsh history, in our beautiful National Library.”
Alice Forward’s drawing, The Tunnel drawing was loosely based on some photographs published in Ioan Lord’s book Rich Mountains of Lead. Alice set about drawing Tunnel in 2019, in a state of deep depression about the causes and effects of Brexit, which was completed a few weeks after the first lockdown in March 2020. The drawing can be read on many levels: one interpretation of it being as a metaphor for these troubling times.
Alice said: “When I discovered that Tunnel had been purchased by Morfudd Bevan for the National Library of Wales, at first I couldn’t quite believe it – it is such an amazing honour - as it is such a wonderful and important institution, holding the most exhaustive archive of Welsh history and culture anywhere in the world.”
Ffion Rhys, Exhibitions’ Manager at Aberystwyth Arts Centre stated: “Oriel Lockdown was an unforgettable exhibition, it was something that everybody could relate to and the response from the audience was very emotional. We heard so many visitors sharing their own stories of how they had coped through the exceptional circumstances of lockdown. I am so pleased that the National Library of Wales has chosen to aquire artworks from the exhibition; the artworks chosen are ones that communicate so well that feeling of confinement and anxiety but also the resourcefulness and the way that the community came together to survive. Artists have the ability to show us different viewpoints and commentary of our time, and it is fantastic that the National Library have chosen artworks from this unprecedented period to retain and preserve for the nation”
Dafydd Rhys, Director at Aberystwyth Arts Centre stated: “We are all absolutely delighted that the National Library have bought artworks from our Oriel Lockdown exhibition. This was a very special event reflecting on a very special time in history and it’s wonderful that this will be reflected in Wales’ National Art Collection.”
Morfudd Bevan, Art Curator at the National Library of Wales, said: “We are tremendously proud to add the works ‘Tunnel’ by Alice Forward, ‘Studio Island’ by Manon Awst and ‘Kitchen’ by Kim James-Williams to the Library’s National Art Collection. It is essential that the Library collects works which reflect upon the nation’s experiences during the pandemic, and these emotive and dynamic pieces will be an important addition to our collections.”
Images: Stills from Stiwdio Ynysig / Studio Island film by Manon Awst