Modernist Swansea: Harry Everington’s 1969 concrete sculptural mural is back to its original glory

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Guerrilla Restoration meets ABMU Health Board

It was fantastic to have had an email from the ABMU Health Board earlier this year.
Martin Thomas who leads the ABMU Heritage Team contacted me as he was researching what public art the health board owned.

Martin came across my Guerrilla Restoration work and the previous work I’d done in highlighting cleaning samples of Harry Everington’s 1969 abstract concrete sculptural mural over the last 5 years.

Taken from the ABMU Heritage blog, here’s what Martin said of the project:
“When we started this group we carried out a scoping exercise to see what historical artefacts the health board owned and this mural came up.
 
“When I did more research I found out about Catrin’s project and we thought it would be a good idea to help finish what she had started.
 
“We thought this would be a great opportunity for us to clean a very neglected sculpture.
 
“This is quite an important one, we own it, so we should look at after it and because it’s in the centre of Swansea I think we’ve got a responsibility to keep it clean.”
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Laden with buckets of hot soapy water the ABMU Heritage Team and I got scrubbing the mural back to its former glory. I am so happy and proud to see one of my favourite concrete murals back in the public eye.
Eager to witness the mural’s transformation was Judith Everington whose father Harry was an inspirational sculpture lecturer at Swansea Art College.
It was under his guidance that students from the college produced the mural which was put on the building’s exterior back in 1969.
Returning to Swansea for the first time in half a century she instantly recognised her late father’s influence on the sculpture.
Harry Everington
Harry Everington
“I am delighted to be here to see this – the minute I saw this mural I thought of my dad. He was passionate about his work and he would have been very pleased to see this being restored to its former glory, I think this is a brilliant idea,”  said Judith, who had travelled from her home in Birmingham accompanied by her partner Kevin Reilly.
The mural set on the facade of Central Clinic, Orchard Street Swansea is on a very busy road. The mural is very large and with neglect, traffic fumes and the last few decades’ dis-taste for midcentury design, the mural fell into the background noise, dusty and ignored.
I’ve always loved this mural. Post war architecture especially in Britain has always been the focus of my output as an artist and has been a life long personal interest.
Alas mid century and brutalist are now the buzz words and height of fashion, hopefully this project will attract fans of midcentury and brutalist architecture to Swansea.
This is all positive as hopefully The 20th Century Society will catalogue the mural and make sure it is listed.
My work here is done.
Photos copyright of ABMU Health Board and Judith Everington.

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/whats-on/arts-culture-news/neglected-swansea-work-art-cleaned-12925793

http://www.wales.nhs.uk/sitesplus/863/news/44823

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Owen Hatherley talk – 15th January at Galerie Simpson, Swansea

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I am very happy to announce that we have managed to get Owen Hatherley, a big inspiration behind Austerity Nostalgia to come to Swansea for a talk and discussion at Galerie Simpson on Sunday 15th January.

I’ve been reading his work on architecture, social commentary and the past for a few years whether it be his books like The Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain and the more recent The Ministry of Nostalgia or his Guardian articles.

I just think he’s bang on the money.
It’s an exciting thing that he is coming to Swansea as part of the exhibition.

A light brunch will be served in true wonderful Galerie Simpson style.

Owen Hatherley

Sunday 15th January
12pm-2pm

Galerie Simpson
222 High Street
Swansea

Free

All welcome.

https://www.theguardian.com/profile/owen-hatherley

https://www.dezeen.com/tag/owen-hatherley/

https://www.radicalphilosophy.com/commentary/lash-out-and-cover-up

 

Austerity Nostalgia – New group exhibition

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Save the date!

We have a group exhibition opening on Saturday 5th November at the ever supportive Galerie Simpson, Swansea.
4pm-7pm – All welcome.

At the beginning of 2016 I was very fortunate to be asked by the gallery to curate a group exhibition.  I instantly knew the topic and who I wanted involved.
The themes of Austerity & Nostalgia in all it’s guises run through the work they’ve created for the show.

Here’s the official press release:

Galerie Simpson is delighted to present ‘Austerity Nostalgia’ –  a  show of our time,  curated by Catrin Saran James.  Our second exhibition with Catrin, this promises to be a real catalyst for thought, discussion and debate.  Austerity Nostalgia has recently become a cultural and artistic obsession and Catrin looks to explore artistic response to this current trend for sampling public modernism. She says of the ideas behind the show,

 ‘‘I’m interested in how the recent past is re-interpreted. With my Archivist hat on, it’s something that’s on my mind a lot. This covers social history, politics, fashion, domesticity, design, music etc. I’m looking at the time between the 1930s to the 1980s. These decades are continually being rediscovered and possibly mis-interpreted to reflect a false authenticity. This could possible change future generations perspective of what was the recent past. You see it already with sanitised versions or rose tinted spectacles of what it was like to live in WW2 with the term ‘Blitz Spirit’ being over used, a new festishisation of Brutalist architecture and the like and possibly looking back to even the Miner’s Strike in the early 1980s with films like Pride. Austerity Nostalgia is a question more than a statement, a subject I’d like to talk to others about and does it really matter?’

As in her solo project at Galerie Simpson, this show is set to ask as many questions as to give answers.   She cites  – ‘Are those sampling their way through eras and cultural movements ripping it up and putting it back together in a tasteless manner?   And if so, is this because they are simply taking visual nods from popular culture to create a morphed past of cross-culture mulch? By doing so are they ultimately giving young people who are interested in scratching the surface in mid 20th century history the wrong information? Are we devaluing our cultural and social history?’ 

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Above – Mark James

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Hope to see you at some point over the duration of the show.

The Galerie Simpson Selection Box has arrived and what a beauty she is

The Galerie Simpson Selection Box is a very special limited edition fundraising portfolio project.
Managed by Jane Simpson, Jane has spent the last 6 months working very hard bringing together 18 artists to create brand new pieces of art especially for this unique box of tricks. Each box is hand varnished, laser cut and houses all 18 pieces of art.
Artists include Peter Blake, Jamie Reid, Gavin Turk, Gary Hume, Rachel Whiteread, Simon Periton amongst many others!

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Mid varnish workshop

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Limited to 50 Selection Boxes the 18 artists include  many of my heroes.

I’ve been very fortunate to be selected to create a silk screen and digital printed piece for the Selection Box.

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Gavin Turk – ‘G.T’ Biscuit 2016

‘Tuck Shop’ – Silk screen and digital print on Somerset satin. 2016

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This gold plated leaf by Simon Periton is stunning and is placed on a red velvet bed in the Selection Box. A delicate feast to the eyes.

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Above is the Peter Blake print that is included in the Selection Box and a beauty it is too.

More details to follow to how to purchase this unique work of art.

Galerie Simpson is part of The Arts Council of Wales, Collector Plan.

We have a party at Galerie Simpson on Friday 22nd April to launch the Selection Box and there will be a London launch later this Spring.

 

 

 

February 2016 – Hackney Archives

I spent the whole of February working at Hackney Archives. This local authority Archive contains all documents relating to the borough of Hackney. Based at Dalston Junction, I rode the number 56 bus everyday to work on the historic photographic collection held by the archive. My role was to clean up and restructure the metadata held by the archive collection system. The photographs will then be taken to the Digital Preservation company Max Communications who specialise in digitising large archival photographic collections.
Once the photographs are digitised Hackney Archives are able to give digital access to the thousands of fascinating images that they currently hold from the 18th to 21st centuries. It was great to have the opportunity to be a part of the process to make this happen.

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I worked with a small team of Archivists who were absolutely wonderful and made my short time working with them very memorable and welcoming. It’s a fascinating archive with community firmly at its heart. I witnessed several community and outreach projects while I was there, with visitors using documents to delve deeper into their own personal social history.
I felt like a bit of an expert on the area even after the first week. As I travelled back and fore to work I saw the areas from the photographs on my route and I began to have an affinity with Hackney, its people, its businesses and industry. I was also very interested to learn about the many social housing projects that sprung up from the 1930s to the 1970s in the borough and I was fortunate to work with many photographs from the 1950s that covered these new urban living spaces.
It was great to be back working at a local authority archive again and I felt privileged to work with such a unique collection of photographs that will have a new lease of life in the digital world once the project is completed.

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It’s The Clash at Victoria Park in 1978!

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Post War Swansea photo exhibition

A piece I wrote for an interpretation panel to be displayed next to the images which are now on display at The Taliesin Arts Centre, Swansea.

The destruction of Swansea in the Second World War left the town centre with the largest bombsite in Wales. Its reconstruction gave opportunity for young architects to refine a style of modern architecture. Due to the restriction of materials the post-war programme of building a new town centre was based on priorities and budget.
A development plan for Swansea was born.

Town planning advanced in the war and Oxford Street and The Kingsway are two large areas of Swansea’s town centre that were redesigned during the 1950s post-war reconstruction process.

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This exhibition of photographs from the 1950s and 1960s are exclusively from Swansea Museum’s collection and have never before been on public display. Swansea artist Catrin James has curated these images and they will play a part in a larger collaborative exhibition of Post War Swansea between Catrin, Swansea Museum and The Taliesin Arts Theatre in the near future.

Swansea city centre is changing again. This exhibition is about reflecting on the square mile of land in Swansea’s city centre where groups of modernist buildings have now stood for over half a century.
It is about considering the materials used, the use of space. It is also about the beautiful design features such as shopfront lettering and coloured tiles as much as the rethinking of new principles in town planning. It is about celebrating Swansea’s post war legacy.

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With many thanks to Swansea Museum and The Taliesin Arts Centre.

Britain on Film: MY TOWN

On Tuesday the 19th January, Taliesin Arts Theatre & the BFI have collaborated for an evening of film called Britain on Film: MY TOWN 
I’m really looking forward to both films shown on the evening. It’s great that this kind of event is happening. It ticks all my boxes.

http://filmhubwales.org/made-my-town-made-swansea

To coincide with this I’ve been asked by Taliesin Arts Centre to curate a small exhibition of photographs from Swansea Museum’s archive to be displayed in main foyer / cafe area of the theatre. I was over the moon to take this opportunity as the evening of film is based on the rebuilding of Swansea after the war, my favourite period in design and architecture.
I am fortunate enough to be able to hand pick images of the town’s post war period from Swansea Museum’s photographic archive for the exhibition. They are fantastic photographs, depicting Swansea’s brand new town centre after a treacherous and austere decade. Mid century modern heaven comes to south Wales.
These images have never been on display before which is exciting enough. Just having access to this archive is gold for me, to choose images for display is a big privilege as Swansea Museum is one of my favourite places in the world.

Here is a crop of one of the many images that will be on display at Taliesin Arts Centre from 13th- 30th January 2015.

I love the lady in the head scarf on the top deck of the bus. I wonder where her stop is?

 

Thank you to Sybil Crouch at Taliesin and Swansea Museum for all their help so far.

Highlights of 2015. Part 1

I was very lucky to have had access to some of Swansea Museum’s collection this year for researching my ‘of time and the city’ exhibition at Galerie Simpson, Swansea. I knew the museum housed the original tiles bricks that made up the sign to the famous Weavers Mill factory and I was so happy to have had permission to display them next to my work in the summer.
The Weaver Mill stood just off the river tawe and North Dock of Swansea between 1897 and 1984. It was the first reinforced concrete building in Europe. Very modern for late Victorian Swansea!

I was very pleased and in awe of these objects as they are such a huge part of the social and industrial history of Swansea. I remember the bricks being on show in the Maritime Museum in the 1980s and on display was the big W of the sign. I often wondered what happened to it…
Here are some snaps of me cleaning dust from the bricks and using museum standard renaissance wax to bring them back to  their original shiny life. I loved doing this job and giving the tiles a good scrub. Having the bricks on display at Galerie Simpson on High Street gave them a new lease of life, interpreting them in a new way and exploring new possibilities of displaying museum objects in different venues.
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‘Ship Building’ a group exhibition at Galerie Simpson

Is it worth it?

Yes it is.

I’m currently showing 2 new prints at Galerie Simpson, Swansea as part of a group exhibition called ‘Ship Building’.
I’m amongst a formidable gang of creative women and I feel our work compliments each other. Artists involved are Anna Barratt, Georgia Ace, Fran Leonard, Jane Simpson, Andrea Powell, Karen Howard Tobin and Patricia Mckenna Jones. We had a great turn out for the opening last week. The support the gallery has from local artists, friends and public is imperative to how a space like this can exist in 2015 and on the High Street of any town and city.

Galerie Simpson is now proud to be part of  The Arts Council of Wales Collector Plan. I can  now possibly afford to buy that Peter Blake print. Dreams can come true.

http://www.artscouncilofwales.org.uk/arts-in-wales/enterprise-and-regeneration/collectorplan/
SHIP BUILDING is on until Thursday 26th November.
I can’t believe it’s December next week. Time to dust down the tinsel.

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