Saturday, 21 January 2012

Screenprinting at the School of Art!

Work in progress.
Orange, green and black will be printed next week.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Some observations...

Ibghy & Lemmens, vtls 004518389-53 (Danny O’Connor)
by permission of Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru

One of the many benefits of being a resident artist at the Aberystwyth Arts Centre is that the famous pod-like structures, a.k.a. the studios, are very close to the National Library of Wales, one of five depository libraries in the UK. Not being one to waste a good opportunity, I decided to visit the Library every morning during the month of October on my way to the studio.

I’d sit at a long table, often alongside academics or individuals plotting their family tree, and stare at photographs from randomly chosen collections I had requested the night before. I would stare at them for a long time. Long enough to look for signs. And when there were no signs to be found, I would go ahead and invent them. In this way, hour after hour, day after day, like those beside me prying the doors of their newly found past, I always managed to find what I was looking for.

It was an exercise in observation.

In one box I found 163 photographs of Welsh boxers, most of them from the beginning of the 20th century. I later learnt that many of these boxers were colliers, and that boxing had become an important stage in Welsh society during the boom of industrialisation, producing a prolific stream of champions and the emergence of local working-class heroes.

This box photographs became the starting point for much of the work I conducted during my residency, leading me to research subjects as diverse as the domestication of chance, the development of probabilities and statistics, coal mining in Wales, boxing, portrait photography, and the introduction of graphical representation in political economy.

One of the projects that has emerged from this research, entitled The Space of Observation, is an exhibition of photographs and writing that will be presented at 221a, Vancouver, towards the end of January. A second project, entitled The Wilful Undertaking of Serious Chances, will be further developed into a live projection / performance during a residency at ausland, Berlin, in March. Both projects have been realised in collaboration with Marilou Lemmens, who was able to join me for the last month of my residency.

I am very grateful for the time I was able to spend in Aberystwyth at the Arts Centre, without which, none of these projects would have seen the light of day. I would like to thank Alan, Eve, Carys, Cath, Carol, Paul and Tim from the Arts Centre, as well as Will from the Library, for all of their assistance and guidance. I would also like to wish my flatmates Matthew and Petri, followed by Clare and Lucy, all the best in their future endeavours. 

Lastly, I would like to show appreciation to Francine Royer and the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Q├ębec for making my residency possible.

Richard Ibghy

Thursday, 12 January 2012

'The deep, dark forest is a common representation of the feared elements within. It can reflect parts of ourselves that are never entirely tamed, that are always somewhat dangerous or chaotic.They are important aspects of ourselves. In some ways, they are the most creative aspects of our inner world. We need to go into the dark forest. It is difficult and mysterious. Still, fresh energies and new ideas come from that place.'
Joseph Young  'How fairy tales shape our lives'


I arrived in Aberystwyth expecting to respond to the tides but is the trees that I find myself drawn to.
Parc Penglais, a stones throw from the studio is a wonderful ancient woodland with it's beautifully twisted Welsh Oak and it's gorse covered old quarry. 

             The grey slate struggles to compete with the stubborn old tree roots.

Walking, photographing, drawing - I am transferring my ideas into small studies in ink, acrylic and oil.

 I'm finding myself using black oil paint which I haven't done for at least 15 years. There is a darkness here. A non threatening but all enveloping darkness. It reminds me of my childhood in Northumberland where pitch black was familiar at the same time as being full of secrets.


                                          These are all works in progress.....

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

The kingdom of fish and chips

My original idea was to do something that involved local people. I started going to different villages to try and meet local welsh people. On my list was Llanbadarn, Borth, Bow Street,

All these places seemed to have shut down for the winter period, nobody in the streets, cafes and shops closed... However, fish and chip shops remained open. Spending time in these popular places implied meeting local people.

So I started drawing in fish shops,

and collecting items.

I liked the idea of working on such a typical traditional British institution. I heard that it remained a British preference and did not cross borders even when Britain tried exporting it to France, Belgium or Italy. Fish and chips have failed to become an export. Why has is it such a British thing?

Fish and chips are now my main field of research. I have decided to bring the “Fish and chips institution” in the exhibition space. I like the idea of bringing a popular custom that is associated to the working class in a supposedly cultural and elite institution that is the “museum”. For the open studio night -taking place at the end of February, my studio will become the “Fish and Chips Museum”.

Fish and chips seemed to have been left out by historians.

Fish and chips is generally recognized as a great and quintessentially British institution; but it is difficult to persuade people to take it seriously as a subject of historical inquiry. This is partly because of it is presumed to be, for practical purposes, timeless: it has 'always' been there, but it has no 'history' in the sense of transforming itself, affecting people's lives for good or ill in significant ways, or interacting with the self-evidently important concerns of statesmen and diplomats”

John K. Walton “Fish and Chips and the British Working Class, 1870-1940”, p1

Next week I will make posters in screen printing at the school of art.

I am also working on a fake TV program called “The fish and chips review”. A review of the village of Borth and Bow Street, MoMA in Macynlleth, ciment sculptures by Arthur Jones in a garden in Llanbadarn and finally the Chip Box in Aberystwyth.