In August 1967 the acclaimed British author, Alan Garner OBE, published the classic children’s book The Owl Service. This supernatural thriller tells the story of Alison, Roger and Gwyn and their unwilling involvement in the recurring curse of Blodeuwedd, Lleu and Gronw.
It is a tale of love, supernatural possession, murder and eventual redemption, all played out in a remote valley in rural North Wales. The story revolves around the ancient tale of Blodeuwedd, from the Welsh chronicles of mythology The Mabinogion. In The Owl Service, this tragic story is replayed generation after generation, reliving the cursed love triangle that ensnared Blodeuwedd, Lleu and Gronw.
Photographer, David Heke, has been collaborating with Alan and Griselda Garner on a number of projects. Following a conversation around the kitchen table in their 15th-century farmhouse, about the forthcoming fiftieth anniversary of The Owl Service, the germ of the idea for this project was born.
Bringing together a multi-disciplinary group of artists from either side of the Welsh/English border, this collaboration explores and celebrates this ground-breaking story and it’s origins in Welsh myth.
The multimedia project includes photography, video, painting, sculpture, music/soundscape, poetry and a fine art upholstery installation. To complement the exhibition, there will be a collaboration with a choreographer to produce dance-based work for video and performance plus contributions from writers working in the fields of folklore and archaeology.
The participating artists are Liz Ellis (sculpture), Jenny Ryrie (painting), David Heke (photography and video), Chris Tally Evans (music/soundscape), Bettina Langlois (fine art upholstery), Anna Wigley (poetry and prose) and Jacqueline McCormick (dance).
All the artists have been selected due to their interest in the story of Blodeuwedd from the Mabinogion and The Owl Service by Alan Garner.
Professor Sioned Davies, Head of the School of Welsh at Cardiff University and writer of the most recent translation of The Mabinogion, has agreed to provide a series of readings from the medieval Welsh text ‘Math fab Mathonwy’ and talks on the Fourth Branch of The Mabinogion.
The exhibition will tour venues across the UK from April 2017 to September 2018 and be site-specific for each gallery location. Workshops by some of the contributing artists can be arranged on request to accompany the exhibition.
David Heke – photography and video
David is a Chester-based photographer, artist, printmaker and videographer. He has over twenty years experience of working in television and the performing arts, with disability and community groups, for advertising and marketing companies, for museum trusts, and local authority heritage and arts services.
David had a background in science before retraining in photography and darkroom techniques. He is interested in using art to interpret science in a creative way, making it more accessible to a wider audience. As an artist, he produces original limited-edition prints for sale and exhibition. He also creates videos for installations, exhibitions and commissions. Many of his images are derived from personal interests, such as archaeology, landscape, architecture, natural science, folklore and mythology. He uses traditional, digital and alternative photographic processes to achieve the final results.
David has worked with musicians, writers and choreographers, producing photography and video installations for use in performance. He has run, and participated in, a number of community-based arts programmes, including the Lache Arts Project, Cheshire Year of Gardens and Number 63, a pop-up gallery, studio and workshop, based in an empty retail space in Chester. He has worked on a range of site-specific projects, including photographer-in-residence for the Chester Amphitheatre Beacon Project.
David is a founder member of Cheshire Artists Network and arts collective CHART and has exhibited extensively, both nationally and internationally. In 2005 he was commissioned by the European funded Cultmark UK to produce an exhibition, book and workshop, profiling the historic canal system between Chester and Ellesmere Port. The resulting exhibition toured several venues in north-west England.
He recently contributed photographic artwork and a video collaboration (with musician i Luker Koenig) to the The Wing Assignment exhibition at Red Bull Studios, London and The Wing Asylum at Caroline Gardens Chapel, London.
Liz Ellis – sculpture
Born in Cheshire, Liz was educated in the arts and sciences and has practised professionally in both disciplines. She now works full time in her studio in Chester, working mainly on ceramic sculpture.
Finding connections in the external and internal geography of my own landscapes and drawing from the creative legacy of pre history, my work is sometimes figurative, sometimes abstract, but always being given up to the intense heat of the kiln for its final transformation.
Liz exhibits nationally and internationally in fine art galleries (including Medici, London and Roger Billcliffe, Glasgow) and public galleries (including The Brindley, Runcorn with ‘Slow Turning’). Her work is held in private collections in the UK, USA, Australia and Europe.
Liz is an experienced collaborator and workshop facilitator and has lectured to degree level (Oxford Brookes University). She has run clay life modelling workshops for West Cheshire College and has designed and run community workshops funded by the Arts Council.
Jenny Ryrie – painting
Jenny Ryrie R.B.S.A has specialised in watercolour and acrylics since graduating with an M.A. in Fine Art from Edinburgh in 1980. She uses expressionistic colour and a variety of techniques to push the boundaries of the watercolour medium, exploiting its fluidity and translucency.
After Edinburgh Jenny lived on the edge of the Brecon National Park which inspired her love of waterfalls, a recurring theme throughout her career. She had exhibitions in London and Edinburgh in the 1990’s and a two-person show at Oriel Gallery, Theatr Clwyd. From 1994 onwards she exhibited at Canyon Road Contemporary Art in Santa Fe, U.S.A. with an annual solo show, her paintings exploring the American wilderness, effects of light and weather, and Native American iconography.
From 2004 Jenny exhibited with the Castle Street Gallery in Hay-on-Wye as main artist-in-residence during the Hay Literature Festival. As well as landscape forms she explored themes of music, dance and poetry. In 2005 she had a solo show of ‘musical abstracts’ at the Mermaid Theatre, London in conjunction with the BBC Jazz Awards and C2 Gallery.
Jenny has exhibited in Switzerland (‘Songs of the Elements’ at Galerie Englische Kirche, Meiringen, 2009) and in group exhibitions in France, Italy, Germany, and Russia (Ekaterinburg Museum Of Fine Art).
Her work appears in several publications including ‘Twelve Women Artists From The NorthWest’ and ‘Miller’s Picture Price Guide 2005’. She won the Kate Fryer prize at the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists in 2010 and was elected a member of the R.B.S.A. in 2011.
I work in an expressionistic, intuitive way, often exploring the energy of the landscape and its underlying spirituality. My paintings vary in their degree of abstraction and explore both the physical and metaphysical. Many are inspired by music and sound.
Chris Tally Evans – music and soundscape
Chris Tally Evans is a performance/media artist, writer and equalities activist. His work has been featured internationally and on UK and international media. As well as broadcasting on BBC 2W, BBC Wales, ITV, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio 4, and BBC Radio 3, Chris’s work has been shown in the UK, USA, Canada, New
Zealand, Qatar, Poland and Finland. He has received a Major Creative Wales Award and a major commission for the London 2012 Festival.
Bettina Langlois – fine art furniture/upholstery
Bettina trained as a theatrical costumier and, latterly, as an upholsterer. Both disciplines wrap materials around a three-dimensional foundation, be it a body or a chair, to create illusion, surprise, dissonance, character. She is interested in the places where art and upholstery meet.
In 2013 she won a prize for her work awarded by Heico and the Association of Master Upholsterers and Soft Furnishers. The chair was exhibited at the Interiors UK exhibition at the NEC, Birmingham. In the same year, she was awarded a prize for advanced upholstery skills by the Worshipful Company of Upholders and accepted their invitation to become a Yeoman.
Bettina came to Alan Garner’s The Owl Service at Girl Guide camp in Wales, read to each other at night by torchlight. This fostered a life-long friendship with the book’s owner, for which she owes Alan Garner a debt of gratitude!
Anna Wigley – poetry and prose
Anna Wigley is a Welsh poet living in Cardiff. She has had four collections of poetry published by Gomer Press, the most recent being Ghosts (March 2016). Her work is largely concerned with the natural world (birds, beasts and flowers) and she is most honoured to be asked to contribute to this celebration of Alan Garner, an author she has long admired.
Jacqueline McCormick USA/UK – Dance Artist
Jacqueline has been teaching, performing and making dances for over thirty years, directing and perform- ing in her company DanceAbout works that take a dancing journey through the outback of the self. She is fascinated by creating movement from sensation, especially in natural environments, as captured in her dance films; Settle, Spiral and most recently The Walk, shot in Joshua Tree, California USA.
Jacqueline’s work is greatly influenced by her research into improvisation, especially Contact Improvisation. Since 1990 she has taught Contact Improvisation at numerous Contact Festivals and workshops throughout the USA and Europe, most recently at Italy Contact Festival 2016, Los Angeles USA, and Bristol UK.
As Artistic Director for Cheshire Dance 2004-2016 Jacqueline created small to large-scale site-based works involving professional artists and communities. The Moment When… 2012 involved over 900 performers, across 3 sites, as part of the NW Cultural Olympiad celebrations. Jacqueline has an M.A degree in Dance from Mills College, California, and was Associate Professor in Dance at Connecticut College, USA 2000- 2004, and Western Oregon University 1985-1996.
The exhibition will run until the 1st of December.
Dragons, griffins, a unicorn, wild men, green men, an imp, an elephant with hooves and stone carved heads. These are just some of the wonders of the medieval world that can be found in Chester Cathedral and the Church of St John the Baptist, formerly Chester Cathedral.
Gordon Emery’s new book is a must for anyone interested in the history of Chester, the cathedral, or myths, legends and fantasies of medieval England. Local artist Jay Hurst has depicted the author as the green man on the cover.
During the late 14th century an intricate wooden quire was carved in the former St Werburgh’s Abbey church. Monks had to pray for long hours standing up, so a system of ‘misericords’ or mercy seats was made with armrests and small ledges to rest on. The underneath of the seats, usually used in an upright position, were carved with illustrated scenes.
When the church was restored in the last quarter of the 19th century the seats were taken out and photographed outside in natural light. However, by the time of the photographs, five of the interesting medieval carved seats had been destroyed because the themes were too indecent for the Victorian morals of Dean Howson, who had them destroyed and replaced them with blanks. These five were later carved with Christian scenes and Aesop’s fables.
Now, for the first time the almost complete set of unique photographs of the medieval carvings under the monks’ seats in the old abbey church quire are available to the public along with a plan of the 112 carved corbels, marvels of the 14th century carvers’ art. One of these represents the green man, a figure found in churches countrywide with leaves growing out of his face.
Don’t be late for Gordon’s talk at 6.45 PM!!
Wild Heart is the first photographic work by Andre Bielecki. His personal footprints give us an insight into the emotional and often solitary journey of a modern day pilgrim.
An incredibly rich and meaningful photo exhibition will be spread throughout the whole gallery on the opening day and Andre will be here to tell you everything about his work and share his experiences.
(…and shhhhh…. it is going to be Andre’s Birthday party as well…! :))
15 December 2016 at 6.30 PM
Join us for some beautiful art themed around Chester and Cheshire as well as a few very unusual and funny additions to the exhibition by Carl Longmate!
Carl is a prolific Painter; whose work reflects a positive and optimistic view of life.
Starting as a young finished Artist in Advertising, Carl quickly learned to produce creative work with energy. Preferring to work from life now, Carl says:
“I like to experience my surroundings and absorb the atmosphere, be it town, or country. Painting outside suits me!
I believe in commitment to art, and that can means experiencing some discomfort,
I rarely plan, or even have time to fully mix colour, I just get on with it!”
Introduced to the Scottish Colourist’s when working at the Glasgow School of Art, Carl was definitely influenced. His work having a hyper colour quality, reminiscent of that style.
Carl is a published painter and has been featured in Cheshire Life Magazine, Pure Magazine, and Derbyshire’s award winning Arts Beat.Carl was also featured in Vernon Building societies Charity Calendar.
He is represented by several Galleries, and has won awards including The Colourfield Gallery Award, and Department of Trade and Industry best business award.
16th March to 3rd April 2017
Art Exhibition Preview Thursday 16th March 6pm to 8pm
BORN IN NANTWICH CHESHIRE MARK WIGAN WILLIAMS HAS BECOME ONE OF THE UK’S MOST INFLUENTIAL GRAPHIC ARTISTS. HE PIONEERED URBAN ART IN LONDON, NEW YORK AND TOKYO IN THE 1980’S AND 90’S. HE CREATES SOCIAL AND CULTURAL HIEROGLYPHS FOR OUR TIME AND DRAWS INSPIRATION FROM SUB CULTURES AND STREETSTYLE FROM AROUND THE WORLD.
The exhibition features videos and photography of live painting performances, exhibitions and projects undertaken over the past 30 years in Europe, USA and Asia and recent paintings, sculptures, merchandise and prints. The exhibition will also showcase his latest Illustrated book A Village Lads Career (the reading between the lines to be left to the imagination) inspired by a seafaring ancestors nineteenth century globetrotting journal which documents his travels from Knutsford to Liverpool’s Salt House docks and off across the world to China, Japan and Australia.
Wigan’s approach is interdisciplinary crossing ﬁne art, illustration and urban art and his proliﬁc output includes regular international gallery exhibitions, live painting performances, set designs for theatre and television productions, animation, textiles, public art and music graphics.
He has lectured at art schools around the world, leading the degree programme in Illustration at Camberwell College of Arts and has written six books on Illustration published by Bloomsbury.
Most recently his vibrant artwork has featured on a collection of boots, shoes, backpacks and t shirts for Dr Martens. The acclaimed DrMartens X MarkWigan Collection has been enthusiastically received all over the world. During the exhibition Wigan will be giving a talk about his artwork and latest projects, this is a good opportunity to meet this Chester artist and hear about his forthcoming exhibitions in London and at The Museum of Club Culture in Hull (UK City of Culture 2017) and Shanghai where he will be exhibiting his latest collaborative fashion project in the summer.
If a picture tells a thousand words Wigan’s drawings are worth an entire library of professorial works on pop culture, early works from 1985 are now revealed as astonishingly accurate maps, showing the development of the attitudes that deﬁned sub cultures.-
The Independent Newspaper
Paris had Toulouse Lautrec, London’s got Wigan an artist whose poser packed drawings immortalise the murky menagerie of late night hipsterdom.-
His work sits at the intersections of music, performance, commercial and visual culture, something that his new collaboration with Doc Martens explores further, decorating iconic DM models with allover archive graphics from original ’80s Wigan artworks.-Highsnobiety
Wigan’s work revitalises more stoic forms of social realism with a neon -bright parade of semi ﬁctitious cult classics, snap crackle and popping their way through the heated hordes of club land.-
London Weekend Television The Six O’clock Show
Wigan is the court chronicler to the transient vanities of our age .A typical picture depicts adherents of every cult under the moon jostling cheek by haircut for lebensraum in the bowels of any club. Its anthropology a go go –
The New Musical Express
If you’ve recently found yourself outside a Dr. Martens store in London, Bristol or Manchester, staring intrigued and amazed at the illustrated characters clinging to the windows, you’ll know Mark Wigan’s work.
A seminal ﬁgure amongst the art scene of the 1980’s (Andy Warhol and Jean- Michel Basquiat were acquaintances), Wigan’s hand painted, busy scenes are the latest subcultural artwork to be tapped by the bootmaker. Clash Magazine
British footwear label Dr Martens has tapped one of the UK’s most established graphic artists, Mark Wigan for a collaborative collection as part of its campaign #standforsomething.
The resulting collection, which includes accessories as well as footwear, features Wigan’s unique style which consists of a blend of social and cultural hieroglyphs, vivid landscapes and schematic ﬁgures inspired by the youth and sub cultures of the UK. –
Wigan has been transcribing the bizarre habits and mutant creatures of London’s sub culture into complex and beautiful graphic patterns since the mid 1980s, his colourful dancing shapes are both decoration and information ,mapping out a hidden landscape and yielding secret signs to the initiated.
The Metro Newspaper
Imagine what the thoughts of your strangest friend look like. Mark Wigans are clearly stranger. Radioactive hieroglyphs, electronic incubuses and hybrid creatures appear in his technicolour dreams. Absorbing the inﬂuence of New York Pop Art his paintings show a chaotic vision of London life as human ants swarm through his cartoon mind maps. –
His playful, tribal inﬂuence can be seen in every club mural, ﬂyer and t shirt in the capital – The Metro Newspaper
If you cant see yourself in one of Wigans illustrations you’re deﬁnitely not really trendy – Time Out
Wigans work captures perfectly every nuance and characteristic of London’s numerous nightclub subcults, are more of a diary than pure commentary and having organised several warehouse parties himself as well as working as a writer and illustrator for i-D magazine, he knows what he is drawing about –
His tireless self -promotion has blurred the already hazy relationship between celebrity and art, though it should be obvious by now that, like Leigh Bowery, Wigan is very much his own creation, as are his idiosyncratic paintings –
The Face Magazine
Wigan represents the initiator, the cultural indicator, the creative artist and original thinker. Above all his work is concerned with the communication of ideas, using the language of contemporary culture and media as a vehicle, with no separation or distinction in status between the medium of art, fashion, advertising, technology or design.-