As I write this I can almost hear the rumbling of activity waiting to happen in various parts of Wales over the next few months. Art is about to burst out of the galleries and meet new audiences for three festivals in Swansea, Cardiff and Conwy.
First out of the traps is Locws International brings back Art Across The City, opening tonight (28 Sept) and runs to 11 November; Cardiff Contemporary (the web site is nearly ready to go live but here’s the Facebook page to give you a flavour) kicks off on 01 October and blinc returns to Conwy for its second year with I Love Conwy, Conwy Loves Me for the weekend of 27 & 28 October.
Installations, interventions, interactions all over the place. From giant lasers to an armoured vehicle projecting images; from caravans to on the buses; on walls, in empty shops, in the sky, underfoot: film, video games, neons, sonic art, public art, public talks, public walks, pop-up galleries, performances, screenings, new commissions, older work re-presented. It’s going to be lively.
Just listing all the artists and venues would result in a novel-length blog, so please have a look at the sites as they come up.
But the bottom line is that much of this activity is artist-led and represents collaboration and a desire to engage new audiences.
Seeing art in a gallery can be a really stimulating experience, and I’ve seen some humdingers over the years, but it requires a proactive attitude and there are still many folk who think that they don’t belong in art galleries or museums. Once art takes to the streets or to the places where people can’t help but come across it, something else happens.
Earlier this summer I went to Swansea for Eysium Gallery’s second year of disrupting the city. Disruption 2 took to the unloved High Sreet to create an afternoon of in-your-face performance and unusual activity. It was my first time in a phone box disco, complete with red carpet and bouncer, the smile didn’t leave my face until I’d fallen asleep that night. Passers-by were bemused, entertained or enraged, but most entered the spirit of the day. A wobble in the daily life of the city that transformed the rat run between the station to the glossy shopping arcades.
Locws commissions artists to respond to sites across the city, often working with communities who haven’t encountered artists before, creating temporary interventions that change the way these places look and feel (I reviewed the last one in 2011 here.)
Up in Conwy, blinc does the same thing in a very concentrated weekend featuring thirty artists and using sites all over the town, including the castle at its heart, with a strong focus on digital work and some spectacular events. Curated by Craig Morrison and Joel Cockrill, this year’s festival is a tribute to mathematician Alan Turing.
Meanwhile, in the capital city, Cardiff Contemporary is a new umbrella for a whole host of visual art and design activity, some already established, like Artes Mundi, Chapter’s Experimentica and Cardiff Design Festival (opens tonight) , to newer festivals like Made in Roath and the very brand new Outcasting : Fourth Wall artists’ moving image festival (launching next week). But there’s lots more, including special events and activities and a phenomenal amount of cross-over and collaboration.
Over the past few months I’ve seen how art presented in this way effects the public in Liverpool and Kassel , bringing new ideas and experiences to the widest possible audiences. From tonight, until the madness of the festive season really gets us all in its grip in December, there’s a chance to be part of something exciting in the North, South East and West of Wales.