Galleries - October 2012

Focus on WALES What is different about galleries in Wales? What new ideas do they share? Asking the question of what Welsh art actually is, is long out of date, and artists who exhibit in Wales tend to have wider emotional and political interests. Safe-guarding the national culture is still an issue, though, particularly for Attic and Ynys Môn , but most galleries in the Principality want to be individual – to find a unique selling point – whether that involves promoting art that other people thinkof as Welsh or not. It is hard to make money from art. If you have to appeal to as many clients as possible, you will probably opt for certain trusted subjects and styles, and as Martin Tinney has admitted, your aims of being challenging and innovative may get muffled. In the case of the galleries mentioned here, it is not easy to see the joins. Beguiling is an adjective which could describe the Art Shop and its exhibitions. Food is the current theme, following September's Abergavenny Food Festival, when streets are filled with stalls and entertainment. The gallery's menu includes 'A Dinner Set for an Imaginary Banquet' (works on paper from Cornelia Donovan) and 'A Theatre of Plates’ (artist-decorated vintage ceramics). In the Attic Gallery , Wilf Roberts has an exhibition of his slabby scenes of Anglesey, many of them views of Mynydd Bodafon, near his home. His paintings are like those of Sir Kyffin Williams, but they are not clichés. Beckford Fine Art is a new company which aims to help ‘the many good but struggling’ British artists to exhibit in prestigious places. Ludlow Castle is currently hosting their latest show by artists from across the UK. The exhibits range from botanical studies to photography and traditional printmaking. At Ffin y Parc , two artists have pride of place: Beth Fletcher, who paints big, swirly landscapes with a palette knife, and who says they are touch as much as vision, and the potter, Louise Schrempft, whose metamorphic figures arise from a sense of what she calls ‘humour and tragedy, absurdity, and . . . sadness’. New Leaf turns out seven exhibitions a year. The gallery gives equal weight to painting as to 3-D craft and sculpture, and invites newcomers and recent graduates to show there as well as established artists. At the moment the main exhibition is of Tom Dewhurst’s portraits. Describing himself as a provincial painter, Tom says he wants to explore ‘the limits of the risk- taking process’. The result is