The wet and the wind

The wet and the wind Clare Thornton, The Dandy & the Mute, 2013 – 2014

Our Associate in Wales, Alicia Miller, battles the weather to see Clare Thornton’s latest show, discovers more about Artes Mundi and initiates new projects for Wales in 2014.


The start of 2014 wasn't the best, was it, with the wettest January on record and hurricane force winds in February? Getting out and about was a distinctly soggy endeavour. But I did...

I had a busy week at the end of January speaking about Axisweb (please note we're using our full name now!), how to build a web presence and the ecosystem of the art world to students and tutors at Trinity St. David and Bangor University. I do a lot of speaking to students and artists on professional development issues as part of my role as Axisweb’s Associate in Wales and I really enjoy it, so do keep me in mind if you’re looking for some straight talk on issues that artists need to know about.

I also went down to Oriel Myrddin in Camarthen, the closest I come to 'my local' out here in West Wales. They had a really interesting show by Clare Thornton, an Axisweb artist that I've known for a while whose diverse work is based around archives and what might be called the archetypal, except her archetypes are distinctly personal and idiosyncratic. Working within what she calls 'a conceptual craft frame', Clare explores architectural motifs in The Dandy and the Mute and their power to frame a space even as a detail, allowing a part to describe the whole. It reflects her interest in concealment and display – the detail conceals the architectural whole but still displays something of its meaning, though this may be misleading.

And I spent (another) wet day in Cardiff touching base with the new Learning and Outreach Manager at Artes Mundi, Amanda Colbourne. Artes Mundi is expanding the team and Amanda's taking a strategic role to develop the reach and impact of project. Amanda is both ambitious and thoughtful, a good combination that will make for some interesting programming. While in Cardiff I also took a stroll down to the ArcadeCardiff spaces in Queens Arcade. Empty retail units in the Arcade are being turned over to artists to use for exhibitions. It's a great central location with lots of footfall, providing more space to profile the wealth of work by young artists in the city.

Before I go, I want to introduce the great roster of activities Axisweb has for our 2013 - 2014 programme, including two events that look at opportunities for artists to extend their practice in new ways. Beyond the Objects in the Museum considers how artists work with museum collections in their practice; and Creativity, Health and Well-Being explores art as a therapeutic tool in galleries and museums and the contribution it can make to health and well-being. We’ll also be doing a couple of Axisweb Roadshows that offer our members face-to-face advice about getting the most from their membership (especially in the light of our new website), alongside tips to get them up to speed with the digital tools they can use to promote their practice.

Most exciting, however, is the fact that we’re going to create a new online map-cum-guide to contemporary art in Wales, which will detail both organisations and artists across the country and be a dynamic presence that creates gateways for interaction and exploration of what’s happening here. It will bring people to the site and send them off again in other directions. I’ll be talking to some of you in the coming months about what you think should be on the site. If you have thoughts and suggestions, don’t hesitate to email me on [email protected].

February has ended very sadly, with the shocking news of Kim Fielding's sudden death. Kim was one of the first people I met when I started with Axisweb. He was spirited, generous and genuinely friendly, an embodiment of the art community here in Wales. Emma Geliot writes a good ode to him in her blog.  Let's hope for sunnier days ahead...

Alicia Miller, March 2014

Book now for:

Behind the Scenes of the Museum: Artists in Collections
10am - 4.30pm Wednesday 14 May 2014
National Museum of Wales, Cardiff
An Axisweb symposium, in partnership with the National Museum Wales and supported by the Arts Council of Wales