Galleries - April 2011

her colour field ‘pictures’ of pleat- ed paper fixed to vertical, flat surfaces, which are mounted and framed as in conventional paint- ings. Like the drawers, the pleated pictures have a restrained effect, far from the dash of her other, new, more expressionist paintings, in which you can take pleasure in the gorgeous colours before wond- ering what on earth she is getting at. Diana Heeks flies in and out of these modes, an unrepentent but- terfly which at the very least lifts the gloom of prosaic reality, and at the most, celebrates the exhilara- tion of being on the edge. Head back northto complete this circular tour where at the National Library of Wales, painter Clive Hicks-Jenkins is having a retro- spective of his paintings in which childlike fantasy and hard-nosed reality walk together down a rocky path(opens May). Caroline Juler sure of finding a little gallery that consistently shows the most chal- lenging art around. The St Dog- maels Gallery , which is run by two visual artists and a dancer is housed in a traditional stone cottage that provides a total exhi- biting space of about 50 square yards (c.41 square metres). Although small and intimate, it never seems squashed, and its new exhibition of Diana Heeks’s paintings and constructions exte- nds the imaginary space far beyond the gallery’s physical walls. Diana Heeks made a name with landscape collages (paper torn into rock and sea shapes which she had already covered with a range of blue and purple blotches and strokes that evoked remote, cerebral coasts). Her the- mes were inspired by Wales’s wild littoral and informed by a Cubist fragmentation of space. Since then she has branched out into constructions consisting of single wooden drawers that contain what look like drop files from a filing cabinet but are in fact solid, and decorated with pieces of textile wrapped around wood slats that fit tightly together. From these con- trolled and tidy, curious but oddly satisfying pieces which are neither objects, paintings, documents, food (always hopeful), esoteric Duchampian games, weapons, symbols of memories nor hiding places, but could be all of these things – she has gone more ‘ab- stract’ (a lazy term for distillations, dilations and concentrations of form and colour). This is shown in Wales is known best for its litera- ture and music but it’s also a land where visual artists flourish. Apart from the wide range of galleries and museums in Cardiff where new ventures like Off the Wall have a sparkling programme of new and more established talents (and where in July the National Museum is opening a lot of new space to contemporary art) there are interesting galleries much further off the beaten track. Being on the edge has pros as well as cons, but the Museum of Modern Art in Machynlleth ( MoMA ) has made a name for innovation as well as tradition. It’s shown in this case by Stephen West’s sculpture show, Love Dogs, which marries traditional materials with cartoon-like images of mutts (and earlier this year by Susan Adams with her spine-chilling, multi- disciplinary show, There are Receivers in the Woods). Further up country, on Anglesey’s Oriel Ynys Mon , Brendan Stuart Burns gives us new paintings drawn from the city as well as his usual rural themes, and the Ucheldre Centre has the eighth edition of Anglesey Arts Forum, an exhib- ition of hugely varied work from the island’s open studios which is also on show in a range of venues from humble sheds to posh studios. In Conwy, the Royal Cambrian Academy is showing water- colours by Ishbel McWhirter (a pupil of Oskar Kokoschka) and the Watercolour Society of Wales. Not far away in Llanrwst, the lovely Oriel Ffin y Parc presents a ‘major’ retrospective of oil paintings by RCA graduate and teacher, John Horwill (1927-97) whose influ- ences included Rodrigo Moynihan, John MInton and Carel Weight. Down in the south of Wales the Monnow Valley Arts Centre opens again in April with an exhibition of prints followed by Romantic Landscape II by Ralph Maynard- Smith, Samuel Palmer, John Piper, and Graham Sutherland. Go west to Cardigan Bay, and you’ll have an unexpected plea- 10. GALLERIES APRIL 11 S tephen West ‘Tannery Dog II’, Grinshill Sand- stone with a damson wood tail at MOMA Wales. Diana Heeks at St Dogmaels Gallery ON THE EDGE