Ceri Hand loves: Bedwyr Williams
“I first met Bedwyr in a café in Llandudno Junction in 2002. I was researching artists for a touring exhibition I was curating for Grizedale Arts – Roadshow. Dominic Chennell, a mutual friend and curator of the Welsh leg introduced us, suspecting that I might like Bedwyr and his unique way of looking at the world. He was right.
“Bedwyr did join the Roadshow tour, and in Wales presented The Blaenau Vista Social Club – a painted caravan that played host to all kinds of shenanigans, which I seem to remember attracted not only people but lots of dogs. Despite the trauma of Roadshow in Blaenau, (his caravan being shaken by local drunks and robbed, one of the artists having their wallet stolen, the artist hermit being perpetually taunted and humiliated and the education tent being set on fire), he was brave enough to work with us at Grizedale Arts again.
“Bedwyr participated in another ‘challenging’ project I curated with Adam Sutherland called Let’s Get Married Today, (where two real couples got married in the forest and we programmed their wedding for them, including transport, cakes and evening entertainment), where he set up a forlorn display of Welsh Love Spoons in the car park.
“We then invited him into residency and his project idea was just a few lines written at the bottom of an A4 piece of paper that said he’d like to work with a local cobbler to make him a pair of size 13 shoes. I think pretty much anybody who meets Bedwyr is spellbound within minutes, even before they’ve seen his work. Quick witted, with cutting observations on the people and places he encounters, he has the ability to find the underbelly of literally anything and give it a tickle or prod, to unexpected ends. His story-telling is legendarily mesmerising.
“His recent live performances have become more epic and experiential, covering subject matter such as a mini bus crash with four other artists in residence (in which he is the only survivor) to inviting the viewer to imagine they are a mole, going on a tour underground with him, sharing his dark, curious, often hilarious revelations only to finally surface from the journey above ground to be cut in half by a spring loaded calliper.
“I love his ability to be funny and dark, using cruel humour to lure audiences in and then shifting register to reveal incredibly poetic and beautiful observations and objects. Bedwyr’s latest body of work draws on his own personal narratives and family histories – from his school days, the farming community in North Wales where he grew up, to his experience as an artist in residence.
“His new prints, sculpture and performance works reflect on hope, desire, memories, loss, transformation and mortality. Incorporating fading media, such as lithography and slide projectors, Williams questions both our ambitions to achieve, to be creative, make a mark on society and what it means to contribute to the cultures we embed ourselves within.
“Nature is either literally present, (e.g. a Bonsai tree in Manawydan a’r Llygoden), or represented (e.g. The Mouse Who Drowned in My Blood and the mountain range in Crib Goch), revealing the omnipresent and inevitable; nature’s ability to throw us off course, disrupt our well made plans and stir desire within us all. In utilising the local to explore the global, and humour to seduce the viewer, Williams exposes the folly of man and the pursuit of desire and legacy, whilst beautifully referencing the impact of capitalism and excessive consumption.
“I like that he doesn’t make it easy for us, that we are implicated in his rants and writings and that we are all guilty. I like the fact that he won’t let us off the hook. I’ve been representing Bedwyr for a couple of years now and he pretty much surprises me every day, with some unique way of looking at things or reflection on the stuff that we subject ourselves to and experience. He makes me laugh at myself and the world I’m in but also makes me think about how I’m going to make it better. Or at least try to.”
Info: Ceri Hand established Ceri Hand Gallery in 2008. The gallery supports artists in producing and exhibiting their work, offering a critical dialogue and exchange on the development of their practice and reaching diverse international audiences.
Bedwyr Williams was born in St Asaph, Wales in 1974 and lives and works in Caemarfon, Wales. Bedwyr has a forthcoming solo exhibition at IKON Gallery, Birmingham and is in a group exhibition at the Kunstverein Bonn, Germany, 2011.
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