Friday, 16 December 2011

Student Interviews

Aberyswyth University student Gemma Meek has helped document Richard Ibghy's time at Aberystwyth Arts Centre by interviewing him prior to his departure. Follow the link below to read the interview in full:

Richard Ibghy on his research process:

"One of the things I like about looking at photographs is that you can take your time; you can look at one image for a long time, as opposed to getting caught up in something that is happening in front of you. Also, I’m not so concerned with trying to understand precisely what is going on in a photograph; which is something I don’t even think is possible. Rather, I am interested in using signs in photographs as springboards to think about other things, things that I am currently researching. I’m very aware, and very comfortable with the fact, that I’m using historical images as a means of stimulating thought and then writing those thoughts down. So I end up writing observations which are more a function of my own concerns than what it is that I am actually seeing."


Sunday, 11 December 2011

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Open Studios and Goodbyes

So the second half of the residency at Aberystwyth disappeared even quicker than the first half did. The last few weeks fell through the hourglass at breakneck speed as I tried to get all the things that I had started to a completed state. 

We had an open studios on the 24 November, which was a nice way to catch up with a lot of people that I have met over the last three months, and to show some of the things I have been working on. This included a set of portraits, some costumes, some masks entitled 'three quack doctor's masks for the purposes of self diagnosis - the coroner, the psychologist & the surgeon', and a chair banner/costume that I just finished. [also we had a chance to finish off the packet of fireworks I had left over from making a film].

There are three projects that I have been working on mainly….

A series of portraits based on an image that I found at the Ceredigion Museum
I was interested in the history of the Welsh folk costume, an image that you know as the ubiquitous dress of women on postcards of Wales. I was lucky to discover that Michael Freeman, the curator at the Ceredigion Museum is an expert in the history of the Welsh women's folk costume. How this dress came to be associated with a national identity is a curious process in itself, but I wanted to look a little beyond this history. Through the process of going through some victorian examples of people wearing this costume we came across a very curious image indeed…

This photograph provides no immediate clues about its origin or its intention, but this is what I like the most about it. Why had this bearded man gone to the trouble of being photographed in a welsh folk costume, and who was the photograph intended for?

Perhaps this image was intended simply as a joke, but it led me to discover more about the Rebecca Riots, a series of protests by farmers and agricultural workers in Wales in the 1840s over unfair taxation. The protesters dressed as women for disguise and invoked a short verse from the bible. The image is also familiar to me as the man/woman character in European folk drama and ritual, a figure that plays with the topsy turvy nature of folk celebration, and a distant relative of the modern pantomime dame.

Working with Stuart Evans at the musuem, I created a series of portraits of men wearing traditional women's folk costume, using the image above for a starting point.

Straw Devils
There are many examples of straw costumes for folk rituals across Europe and the rest of the world, but I was curious about the possibility of constructing some costumes from drinking straws. These costumes became two devil characters after I had been reading Edmund Jones' accounts of appearances and sightings of the devil accross Wales during the 1700s. After his his admission that he never really bothered to come to Cardigonshire and his firm belief that had he made it to these parts then he would have "received many accounts" of devilish activity and appearance, I decided that my characters would be a kind of example of a devilish occurrence in these parts.

I made two straw devils, one a mainly white one, with a dash of colour, that I decided was a 'devil of the daytime', and partnered this with a black devil, the 'devil of the nighttime'. I ordered 10,000 drinking straws to make these suits, and started by sewing them into strings, and then sewing these strings onto an undersuit. Like some of the ritual devils that you see in folk processions in eastern Europe, each costume has a long red tongue hanging down from its head. 

I got the chance to use the costumes to film a short ritual involving a couple of other costumes I have made, and the University Cheerleaders.  I am still editing this piece, but will post it when I have finished.

The Sheep Stealer
One part of the residency at the Art Centre was to make an artwork with a group of people in the area. In the first few days that I was in Aberystwyth I came across the films of William Haggar in the Screen & Sound Archives at the National Library of Wales. I thought these films were amazing, and the humour and life in the stories he was telling seemed like a great point to start work with a group of people in the area. The same day that I had been looking at the Haggar films in the library, I had come across a photographic exhibition on the top floor of the library celebrating the history and the 70th anniversary  of the Young Farmers Clubs in Ceredigion. The YFC seemed to be an amazing combination of rural skills and amateur dramatics taking place in fairgrounds and fields across the county. 

The film that stood out to me initially had been 'The Sheep Stealer" made by Haggar in 1908, and after a few weeks of trying I managed to make contact with a group of YFC in Tregaron, not too far from Aberystwyth. After a few meetings we set a date and filmed a new version of the film on the farm belonging to the dad of one of the girls in the group. I shot both a digital and a super8 version of the film, and next year the both the original William Haggar film, and the new one we have worked on will be shown at the National Library.

And so an amazing three months in Aberystwyth comes to an end. 

Thanks to Eve, Carys, Cath, Tim, Carol & Paul at the Art Centre, to Michael, Stuart & Jill at the Ceredigion Musuem, Petri & Richard my fellow resident artists and housemates, and a special thanks to Pete Stephenson & Ali Matthews for all their help.

Matthew Cowan

Tuesday, 29 November 2011


Hello! Again! I am still in California but still editing all the material gathered during my residency at Aberystwyth last can see for yourself in the videos posted below!

have fun...ciao for now




Hanging Landscapes


From Petri Virtanen

From Petri Virtanen - Nov.2011

The past weeks have raced like a Finnish rally driver through the woods pushing the pedal, and soon it is time to return back to Helsinki. But everything looks pretty good now, I do believe, after tomorrows´ last shoot at the pier, that I should have about 9-11 good shots, which would make an exhibition by itself!

Somehow when you finally settle down in a place, and get couple of shootings after another under your belt, it feels like you can’t stop.

Yesterday was the open studio, and a nice number of people arrived, and the atmosphere was very jolly. It’s always interesting to hear comments of your work, of course you make it purely for yourself, but still secretly you hope that somebody likes at least something, and that the pictures, drawings and music would have as wide audience as possible. And when asked, what is the favourite picture, the answers were very different, sometimes even surprising!

Also I would like to thank before leaving this great Welsh town, all the people of the Arts Centre, who helped and supported me, they made all this possible, and gave new spark to my a little bit jaded steps that I had before coming here, and being able to concentrate 120 % on my art, and make me once again know, where I am, and what I should do from now on, a sharper vision has been found, a refuelled artist has been made, thank you everybody!

Cheers and all the best!

Friday, 14 October 2011

The Devil's Wind

As an artist in residence in Aberystwyth, you can't help but be knocked out by the weather, which blows in from the Irish sea, and speeds up the hill to the art centre most days. Its hard not to fall into that uniquely British trap of talking about the weather with my fellow resident artists, as the weather does have such an effect on your existence here, although we have begun to joke that the status quo is huge gusts of wind, short squalling showers of rain and fast moving clouds blowing in from the sea. When the sun shines through in brief patches, its so welcome that you end up feeling guilty remaining inside your studio.

I first arrived in my studio full of the excitement at the potential new work I was going to make, and itching to get started. I only tripped myself up though in the beginning deciding what exactly it was going to be that I would start on. I made a lot of use of the library in the first couple of weeks that I was in Aberystwyth (in the days before the population doubled with the arrival of this years batch of freshers, and all the returning other students for the start of term) and started down a path that was leading straight to the devil. I have been reading from Edmund Jones' accounts of appearances and sightings of the devil accross Wales during the 1700s, and his admission that he never really bothered to come to Cardigonshire. He is firm though in his belief that had he made it to these parts then he would have "received many accounts" of devilish activity and appearance.

So its into this void that I have stepped, constructing, in my head only at the moment, a devilish dance routine, ritual procession, and set of straw costumes for both the day and the night. I am hoping to assemble a chair to accompany these characters but at the moment that's all ahead of me.


Sketchin´and writing and drawing

I´ve also continued my beloved trait of sketching and drawing to my notebooks and pads, and
writing song lyrics and poems. I like to just start from scratch and keep on drawing until it´s done,
and then wonder what it is and where it came from. Sometimes I might do some premliminary sketches,
but I prefer the spontaneous, relaxed results that might appear, if I´m lucky. They are always kind of hit-and-miss stuff.

Well, the sun is shining; I better take a short break, before it vanishes back inside the clouds...





Can it be already 6 weeks behind me? The days I´ve spent here have been running over the hills as fast as the 28 m/s wind, that stormed through Aberystwyth few days ago.

But all´s well so far, my bad knee is getting better, my motivation to do `real´ and `honest´(read whatever) art has slowly elevated itself towards the sky´s limits.

I have several things that have occupied my mind.

I brought couple of cameras here, to take some `mythical´ photos around here. I´ve become interested so far more to the heroic side of it, what is a hero, what does he/she do on a day off, what are the working days like, or the days off, how does he/she chill, win, lose etc. It´s not easy to be a hero and succeed.

I´ve also taken some pictures from here, just simple snaps, to show my friends in Finland, what my
life looks like here, and the scenery houses, etc. Believe me, to the Finns everything looks different and exotic here! And also some pics from Borth, where Matt and I took a field trip on one strange heatwave day. We went there on a super low tide, so we could see the `immersed forest´of Borth.
It looked great and strange, and a lovely village, too! You´re welcome to glance through them:

and some of my photos and music is possible to see and listen at my old website:
I have a new website coming up, almost ready, but it can´t be finished until I´m back in Helsinki,
so maybe in the beginning of 2012.

I also bought before coming here, some recording equipment, so that I could start learning the digital
ways of home recording. A Lexicon Omeca soundcard box, plus Cubase LE4 software. I didn´t want to drag my acoustic from Finland, but got lucky and found a nice Washburn electro/acoustic from a used stuff store. I´m not a big fan of computers, but so far I´ve been succesful in recording one rough demo, called `Lost like Loneliness´, plus I made couple of vocal performances to my great guitarist friends´, Pekka `Puka´Oinonen´s demo´s that I brought here with me. It is amazing, these pretty cheap and simple things nowadays, that you get high-quality recorded sound, just like that, no cassettes, huge consoles etc. I´m working on 3 more songs, and try to make rough demos of them, in about 2 weeks time. You can hear some of the music of a band I´m in, Aquasaurus from a link in Soundcloud. I do the singing:

Thursday, 25 August 2011


For this open studio I have made a series of Photograms to replace all my bags that have gone to Los Gatos Museum.
The few bags I had left are all on display hanging from a line or laying on the floor accompanied by the photograms.
here are close ups of the photograms:

Open Studio

So  now that is how my studio looks like

All Packed Up Ready for Los Gatos Museum!

Tomorrow is open studio's here at Aberystwyth Arts Centre but the work of  almost three months has already gone, shipped to California to the Museum of Los Gatos were they are in good company together with all the other boxes that have previously been sent mainly from Dallas.
This Box is a special one though, and I hope the work will be still the same I have just finished making when I will open it up.  For economical reason I had to reduce the volume of the bags in order to reduce the size and therefore the cost of the shipment that apparently goes according to volumetric weight, took me a while to figure that all out. It was quite a mission to squash everything into my custom home made box to contain more than 8000 bags, compressed into vacuum bags and on the verge of explosion! Which will surely happen once I'll open it next! Or the bags will shoot out or they'll have morphed into some other sculptural creature!
Here are some pics:

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Thursday, 11 August 2011



I am now slowly coming to the packing up stages here in Aberystwyth and though I have a little fun playing around with what surrounds me!