Articles by Huw David Jones
ReWorked2 showcases work from a recent nationwide competition which challenged artists to make artefacts from recycled material. Returning for its second year, the exhibition – organised by the Washington Gallery with support from an anonymous US charity – attempts to link art with contemporary environmental concerns.
Many of the chosen artists have responded to this theme in a politicised way, making work that protests against various ecological injustices. Tone Holmen’s giant polar bear, which stands sheltering her piñata-like cub in a far corner of the gallery, is composed of plastic carrier-bags to highlight the manufacture of materials that contribute to global warming. Jac Scott’s Feed Me 2, a rudimentary desk on which stand dozens of old table folks, is said to symbolise the outstretched arms of the staving millions in the developing world. And then there’s Antony Houlden’s crowd of amusing sponge-men – resembling something out of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice – who march across the gallery floor like an angry mob of eco-warriors.
Other artists, by contrast, have reused materials simply to make everyday household items, including a deckchair manufactured from crushed coke cans, an outfit woven from used cassette ribbons and an elegant dress sewn together from thousands of old clothes labels.
One of the most beautiful examples in this category is a collection of large bulbous vessels made from melted plastic by Caroline Saul, a young art graduate from Brighton University. These show great dexterity and skill, and wouldn’t look out of place in a park or woodland, despite their synthetic nature.
Another interesting contribution is Yoshimi Kihara’s stone-like bowl made from ten-of-thousands of discarded environmental leaflets folded together into a fan. Not only does this testify to the Japanese artist’s great patience; it also makes a serious point about the contradictions inherent in green enterprise.
The 47 artists – half of whom come from Wales – represented in this highly accessible exhibition were short-listed from over 100 entrants by Professor Richard Weston of the Cardiff School of Architecture, Mrs Cerys Griffiths of Penarth and Alice Randone of the Washington Gallery. Prizewinners will be announced in November, when the show travels to Cyfarthfa Castle in Merthyr.
Until Oct 7, Washington Gallery, 1-3 Washington Buildings, Stanwell Road, Penarth, Mon to Sat 9am-6pm, Sun 10am-5.30pm, free. Tel: 029 2071 2100. http://www.washingtongallery.co.uk
This post was originally published in The Metro.