Students and alumni from The University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s Swansea College of Art have collaborated with the Elysium Gallery in Swansea for their latest exhibition ‘Thread’.
Two of the exhibition’s curators are alumni of Swansea College of Art, Honorary Research Fellow Angela Maddock, and Ann Jordan. Siwan Thomas, a recent BA graduate and Imogen Mills from the current MA Contemporary Dialogue: Textiles cohort were invited to collaborate and exhibit some of their own work, to gain experience from working alongside and engaging with more experienced artists.
The exhibition, funded by the Arts Council of Wales, provides an exciting platform for contemporary textile artists to stand shoulder to shoulder with painters, sculpturers and photographers – demonstrating different processes and skills for a celebration of diversity and inclusivity.
Curator Ann Jordan and Founder Director of Elysium Gallery said: “The power of textiles is universal, transcending all boundaries and barriers, whether it is cultural, racial or about identity and ability, touching each and all everyday of our lives, woven into our own personal and collective narratives. Our language is imbued and enriched with textiles words leaving a lasting legacy.
“The pandemic with all is uncertainties had forced changes to be made so Elysium was delighted when Raisa Kabir, Shelly Goldsmith, Lasmin Salmon and Shona Robin MacPherson, all of whom had never shown work before in Wales confirmed that they would be able to take part in the exhibition.
“Attributes in students and graduates that we look for are enthusiasm, professional hard work and commitment: a willingness to learn, always questioning and experimenting and to possess a realisation that its ok to have failures and be rejected. Every experience is part of the learning curve.
“Siwan and Imogen’s enthusiasm was boundless as they rolled up their sleeves and became valued members of the team. It’s all hands-on deck at Elysium. Meaningful conversations flowed between artists, curators, and students. They were given guidance but made their own decisions. Hopefully the experience gave them a glimpse of what they could achieve in their careers. The private view afforded an opportunity to talk about their work to the public, receive feedback and make new personal connections.”
Angela Maddock added: “We hope that the two students selected would gain experience from working alongside more experienced artists and that their energy would contribute to the installation. In the end, this worked really well for everyone. It’s important that students who visit get the chance to see themselves reflected in events like this.”
Imogen said: “It has been an excellent opportunity to work with leading textile artists. The exhibition is wonderful, offering such a rich and diverse reading of textile thinking. I feel honoured to be part of that. What will stay with me however is the generosity of all those involved in sharing decisions, conversations; in making me feel truly included. There is so much hierarchy in the arts world, for an emerging artist it was very beneficial to be empowered in such a way. The Work Room manifests this entirely.
Siwan, who is now working as a designer/ maker, graduated with a First-Class degree in Surface Pattern Design from Swansea College of Art this summer.
She said: I was invited and selected by the Thread curatorial team to exhibit my final collection – ‘Thoughtful Chaos’, alongside fellow student Imogen Mills and the celebrated textile artists. I’m Incredibly grateful for the opportunity to debut my pieces to the public, for the first time ever in a wonderful space – thank you Elysium Gallery.
“This experience has been the best start to my journey into the industry, what a boost! The exposure and support have been immense and I’m very thankful. I’m excited to see how my career unfolds post-Thread.”
Angela said: “Siwan’s work is beautiful; colourful and engaging, but it also responds to isolation, it has a language of engagement and play. We all need that. Imogen does this in her work too, she considers how cloth, and its construction has parallels with how we build our world.
“Both were selected for their work, which we felt was engaging and innovative. Both made huge contributions to the exhibition installation and joined with the curators and the two artists who were there for installation – Shelly Goldsmith and Shona Robin MacPherson – in decision making, eating lunch, and drinking many teas and coffees.
“It’s that idea about not pulling up the ladder and also making a bigger table. It’s also good for established artists to work with emerging ones and students. Knowledge is circular. I learn as much from my students – probably more – than they learn from me. I also love teaching, I left SCA four years ago – after many years as a senior lecturer – but I’m still in touch, still working with my surface pattern and MA Textiles friends, they are my making family. It’s a good feeling to be contributing knowledge, to supporting emerging talent.”
A symposium, featuring both artists and curators, will be held on Saturday October 2nd.