Articles by Huw David Jones
Myths and fairytales have long been popular subjects for artists. Not only do they provide a rich source of imagery, but beneath the legends of magical otherworlds lie deep psychological truths about our hopes, fears and desires. These are explored in a new exhibition – funded by Arts Council Wales – in which eight local artists respond to subject-matter ranging from Classical mythology to the Celtic folktales of the Mabinogion.
Enigmatic female forms appear in many of the works on show. Richard O’Connell’s Lilith pictures the Mesopotamian storm goddess emerging, arms outstretched wide, from a moonlit sea (which resembles Swansea Bay). Heloisse Godfrey’s Metamorphosis diptych illustrates the transformation of an old hag into a radiant beauty, recalling the legend of sorceress Morgan la Fay. Elsewhere, Maria Holohan stitches fragments of cloth to draw fragile but elaborately dressed women, such as Cinderella and Lady Gray.
Wild beasts are another reoccurring theme. In Nichola Robinson’s Orpheus three hungry-looking wolves – drawn like cartoon figures – pray on the young harpist, as he sits alone by a mountain cave. In Alice Perceval’s Meeting in the Woods a girl in bridal dress awaits a twilight liaison with her lover, who is half-man, half-stag. Then there is the masterful work of ceramist Meri Wells, whose clay animals seem both strange and familiar.
Most impressive, though, is the work of Michael Gustavius Payne. His thick-set ogres, crafted using equally thick-set oils, convey a deep pathos as they struggle with the enormity of their own bodies. Plenty to be moved by, then, in this enchanting exhibition.
Myths, Folklore and Fairytale is the Washington Gallery, Penarth, until Aug 30, 2008.
This post was originally published in The Metro.