Saturday, 23 June 2007

Seeing Red Souls: Visual Valleys -- Artist Anthony Stokes Opens at Oriel y Bont

Have you ever seen the modern artists with 'souls that bleed' at Oriel y Bont, tucked beneath the ancient boughs of greeny, green Treforest?

Enter the grand steps into a rich phantasmagorical pastiche of presented works, under the watchful eyes of spirits and lingering familiars.

Ty Crawshay is the haunted stone mansion in leafy Treforest, former home of the Ironmaster Francis Crawshay.

Crawshay's English family ruled the Valleys economies for a century, but Francis was different, a self-taught Welsh speaker, who dabbled in Druidism and Neo-Paganism, consorting with Welsh mystics at midnight gorsedd ceremonies.

Oriel y Bont is an unusual space for exhibiting art, rumoured to be visited each night by a host of ghosts and fairer spirits whose memories refuse to lose their grip on these stony craigs with their hidden hopes.

It's said that once the fashionable modern women with their heels, men and strings of pearls leave the gallery, a spector descends the oaken steps and well-worn cobbles drop and drag across the old wood floors of Oriel y Bont.

And here we have a startling vision of the Valleys: The subject is limited to the 'industrial' valleys from Neath to east of Ebbw Vale - via The Heads of the Valleys road - back to the 'boundary' of the M4.

Don't miss this event!

Press Release – Exhibition Opening
The Valleys - Anthony Stokes
Oriel y Bont
25 June-7 September 2007
Private view and book launch Tuesday 26 June 7.00-9.00pm

The Valleys is an exhibition of one hundred colour photographs, selected from more than a thousand images, made during the last five years by Anthony Stokes. The subject is limited to the 'industrial' valleys from Neath to east of Ebbw Vale - via The Heads of the Valleys road - back to the 'boundary' of the M4.

Stokes writes 'Only notions of conventional good taste, or coastal prejudice, are capable of obscuring the wonder of The Valleys. Could you trust a painting or a verbal description to tell the truth?'

The Valleys have often been depicted in shades of grey; Stokes's pictures reveal a unique and richly-coloured vernacular where the history of The Valleys' townscapes is overlaid with decades of modifications.

Iain Sinclair writes 'Look closer. You find an enchantment, an abdication of metropolitan fret and status-struggle in favour of a leisurely logging of elements; a landscape that is out of time, unresolved.

In transition. Memorials of discontinued industries. New money spent on new things. Hillsides learning to disguise their wounds.'

Anthony Stokes's mother is from Baglan and Abercanaid and his father was from Bridgend. His childhood was spent in Gloucester, though he has been a regular visitor to Merthyr and Bridgend, particularly in his early years.

Now 61, he has spent most of his working life in London as an exhibitions curator, with a specialist interest in contemporary art. For the last five years he has lived in Ogmore Vale.

The exhibition was initiated by the Cynon Valley Museum, Aberdare with support from The Arts Council of Wales, and will also be presented at Salem Chapel, Nantyglo late in September and the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth, in January 2008.

To coincide with the exhibition, a 168- page hardback book, The Valleys, is published by the Bridgend-based publisher, Seren.

With a substantial text by Iain Sinclair and with more than a hundred colour images, the book is a companion to the exhibition. Iain Sinclair spent his childhood in Maesteg but has lived and worked in London as a writer and poet for many years.

Oriel y Bont, Ty Crawshay Building, University of Glamorgan, Llantwit Road
Pontypridd CF37 1DL
Gallery open to the public Monday - Friday 10.00-5.00

Cardiff School of Creative & Cultural Industries


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© 2007 Mark Leslie Woods

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