A psycho-geographical tour of Mwyn HQ. In response to a request by Glyn Davies to write a blog, so here we go let's talk art ....... written over a couple of weeks as we decide where the prints are to hang. We are the curators of our own bunker, where we plot and pot cultural ideas in the garden of revolt.
The Sex Pistols and The Clash informed my politics in the late 1970’s. Jamie later became one of my dearest friends. Anhrefn was my life from 1980 – 1993. These framed prints remind me daily of why I do what I do. Just like being a gardener, not a translator, transplanting ideas into the Welsh cultural landscape. I once declared one of my many retirements from Welsh Rock’n Roll was in order to do some gardening.
Sure there is also a Catatonia disk for 600,00 sales, another reminder of careful nurturing of those young plants. There are also Swci Delic cushions, a fresh new flower in the garden.
I am a collector of sorts, a fan certainly. I add Glyn Davies, two limited edition prints in fact, to the garden of revolt.
A different room.
Recently we went on a quest for an old battered ‘Salem’. It had to look old, it had to be antique. It cost £40 from an antique shop in Penmaenmawr, found in the back of course, on a drizzly Saturday afternoon – result ! It goes with the Welsh ladies cushions (Hywel Edwards @hyweltedwards) and with the print of Thomas Jones’s ‘Last Bard’. This room tells us that Vosper and his Devil shoal, the suicidal bard facing the forces of Edward I, have all brought us here, they have brought us home. Where we are and who we are.
And so I venture in to Oriel Ynys Mon, for the Glyn Davies exhibition ‘Landscape Figures’ (subtitled nudes in the landscape). There are a lot of pictures. Too many to process in one go. I decide on the first love approach, no analysis, just go for the ones I really like. Call it gut instinct. After three visits I have not really changed my mind. Chatting to Glyn and learning the context means I only love them more.
My eyes are drawn to two photographs. The spiritual place that is Ynys Enlli and a landscape that I know very well, Mynydd Mawr, Mynydd Grug, Mynydd Eliffant (should have inserted a.k.a).
Enlli is a magical place, of course it is, 20,000 saints, St Mary’s Monastery, the Bronze Age (?) cairn on the summit. That has to be the one I say. The figure is athletic, toned and blonde – not particularly Welsh in the traditional sense – but it works, the sculpted body, arms outstretched, standing tip-toe - she welcomes this spiritual place.
A funny thing happened on Facebook. Glyn almost introduces us. I don’t want to know this figure in real life. No names. No close-ups. This is just an imaginary figure in a spiritual landscape. In the same way I don’t really know Rossetti’s models, names yes if they are Jane Morris, but I will never get to have Sunday tea with Janey. It has to be unspoilt.
You see this has to be a magical world, nature’s sculptures, landscape and human, beautiful yes and beautifully captured by Glyn – but don’t make it too real. Glyn has steered clear of tattoos and body piercings. He has steered clear of face and identity. We are left then with real places, that we recognise, but figures that we do not know, do not recognise.
I buy two prints. They are called ‘Darganfod Paradwys’ and ‘Cyn iddi Dywyllu’.
The second print is the more Welsh. The dark brooding figure of Mynydd Mawr. The dark figure almost butt deep in the bog. I imagine she is a Rhiannon, straight out of the Mabinogi. Dark windswept hair. She is by far the oldest model. She is by far the best sculpted body. Lived in. Strong. Broad shouldered. If the youthful blondes give the landscape a spring feel, light and a bounce in its step – this Rhiannon is time eternal, the old “Welsh Mam”, someone who could have walked past the window in a Kate Roberts scene in olden days.
The two prints contrast – the old Wales secure in its legends and myths. Autumnal. And the youthful blonde, arms outstretched embracing the warm winds that blow from Enlli – I am reminded that there is not one Wales. There is no copyright on Welshness, Welsh culture, this place. Diolch byth.
They balance the moods.
Nest my wife and I spend a Sunday afternoon, arranging and re-arranging. The Enlli ‘Darganfod Paradwys’ has to face Enlli. It is given its own west facing wall. We decide, that this is enough for this wall.
We are drawn in a different way to ‘Cyn iddi Dywyllu’ , we both recognise the same moods, moods for different rooms. The Rhiannon lady has to be in the parlour (study). We have not finished arranging this room but this is where she will end up.
I show these prints to my dear friend David Dawson, an artist and photographer, and I am reminded by David that it takes time to get art hung in the right place, and it might move with time. He is right. This is the fun, we can curate our own art garden. Nothing is static or permanent. Like the flowers in the garden. They can be moved. But, when we find the space, we know, at least for a time.
The anonymity is a strength in these characters. To know real persons who work and play and do ordinary things would be too much of a distraction. If I meet them, what do I say? “I love your picture”. I do not know them, it should stay this way. Like a Goscombe John or a Rodin they shall remain silent and haunting. Everything is left to the imagination despite the nudity.