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March News

Updated: Mar 12, 2023

Image: Gwen, a Studio 40 volunteer, proudly holding up the defiant daffodils of Queen Street Gallery.

St. Davids Day

The staff at Queen Street Gallery and Studio 40 don’t have a great track record for keeping plants. A point in case is the stock of potted daffodils that we’ve had buried away in the staff kitchen at Queen Street Gallery for months. Despite serious neglect, come St. David's day, we were greeted by a crop of minute daffodils that sprouted from our humble tin pots. Gwen, our newest member at Studio 40, kindly agreed to pose for us holding the lovely daffs, in honour of this special time of year.

Image: The Open '23 opening night turnout.

Open ‘23 Exhibition

The winner of the Open ‘23 competition at Queen Street Gallery was Heather Littlejohns. We’ve also decided to make her the Artist of The Month at Queen Street Gallery, so we will be doing our best to promote her work, utilising our presence online.

Image: Heather Littlejohns, winner of Open '23.

“After qualifying as a Primary School teacher, I taught for over thirty years and during this time, I hope I inspired many young artists and colleagues to find joy in art and creativity.

I paint in watercolour because I love its unique qualities, its freshness, translucency and its unpredictability! My subject matter and inspiration are taken from the natural beauty of the Gower coastline, even down to an individual pebble or shell, or our cat sleeping on her favourite chair or a bundle of asparagus bought for supper. Beauty is all around us and it is there to be painted!” - Heather Littlejohns

Firmly at second place is Katheryn Moore's entry ‘First Light’. This mysterious entry caught the eyes of the judges due to its delicate handling of paint and touch of naivety. Her inspiration for the piece came from her childhood memories of reading tales of the legendary King Arthur and his journey to Avalon.

Image: Phil Taylor's photographs on display in Studio 1, Studio 40 Neath.

Phil Taylor, our third prize winner, currently has a pop-up solo exhibition in Studio 1, which will be up until March 25th.

Runners up included Graham Parker, Marissa Weatherhead, David Williams, Jon Mewett-Meyer and David Robinson, whose work was all highly commended by the judges.

Image: Ken Marten's Valley project on display in Studio 40.

New Artist at Studio 40: Ken Marten

We’re beyond excited for our new residential artist, Ken Marten, to be moving into Studio 2. Marten is a photographer based in Port Talbot. His ongoing documentary project Valleys focuses on capturing the essence of everyday life in the Afan Valley, South Wales.

“I frequently document ‘forgotten’ spaces, beneath flyovers or on industrial estates on the fringes of towns and cities, absent of people, yet not absent of humanity.” - Ken Marten

Without Ken’s knowledge, we’ve framed and exhibited a selection of photographs from his poignant photo documentary series depicting the Afan Valley. We can’t wait for him to see it up! Please take a look next time you visit. Don’t be afraid to make your way upstairs.

Image: Maria Pierides, winner of the VAA International Exhibition & Scholarship Prize

Award Winning Gallery Artist

Well done to our gallery artist Maria Pierides, winner of the VAA International Exhibition & Scholarship Prize. It’s so inspiring to see one of our artists gaining the recognition they deserve.

Workshops Coming Soon

We’re relieved to announce that workshops will be starting again in April. There are a number of exciting classes in store, including Art Therapy sessions with Maria Pierdes, Tile Mosaic crafting with Thomasin Toohie, evening life drawing classes with Patricia Mckenna, and Relaxation sessions with Susie Strange.

Image: Susie Strange's Relaxation Sessions scheduled to start in the Summer.

Movement to Music, Relaxation and Creative Sessions with Susie Strange

Aim of the sessions:

“To engage young children in creative, recreational opportunities combined with mindful movement and relaxation which will benefit them now and into the future.

All the activities are designed to improve wellbeing, learn life skills, develop flexibility and strength, enhance creativity and practice relaxation and mindfulness. Each session begins with a creative art and craft activity, this is followed by yoga inspired music and movement and finishes with a short relaxation. The theme of each session and hence the art and craft activities will change each week and all equipment and materials will be provided.

Expressing creativity and imagination has a huge impact on mental wellbeing. By utilising interactive stories, yoga movements, music and singing, relaxation and mindfulness a range of child development and skills are developed. The social environment, with the chance for children to express themselves, develops confidence. Above all is the aim to provide a fun and respectful environment where children can enjoy themselves.” - Susie Strange

The sessions will be run by Susan Burn (AKA Susie Strange) assisted by another member of staff.

Susie Burn is a qualified Level 3 exercise teacher (FLexercise: endorsed by EMD UK, CIMSPA and REPS) and has extensive experience running yoga inspired and creative classes for children both in schools and holiday/after school clubs.

Image: Poster advertising Payne's upcoming exhibition at Queen Street Gallery, at Studio 40 Neath.

Coming Soon: Gustavius Payne Solo Exhibition

We’re waiting in eager anticipation for Gustavius Payne’s upcoming exhibition ‘Bara…and Roses Too’. Here’s Payne’s artist statement, to give you an idea of what’s in store this coming April:

“My work has always been concerned with the human predicament and increasingly, over the last decade or so, with social structure, identity and the impact civilization has on the world.

The title to this exhibition has its initial origins in my home town, during the 1831 Merthyr Rising, where calls for bara a chaws (bread and cheese) and bara neu waed (bread or blood) were heard. Troops were sent for and subsequently opened fire killing twenty-four men women and children. At this time there was no sick pay nor holiday entitlement, a working day was typically a fourteen-hour shift and the working week lasted six days, with only Sunday as a “day of rest”, but none of this was questioned. All that was being demanded was the very basics. ‘How could the world run any other way?’ they may have thought.

Within this context it could be asked if the general population today makes similar assumptions about how things are and how they could be. Is there another way to do things? A better way for the future that goes beyond the bare necessities?

Originally dating back to the early twentieth century, to the American women's suffrage movement, bread and roses has become a common slogan calling for not only the bare minimum (bread) but more; dignity; access to education, literature, the arts, etc. (roses). After all, those post-war newsreels predicted so much for the future, the reality of which has actually been surpassed technologically.

Who are we? Where are we going? Is there a better way?” - Gustavius Payne

Payne’s exhibition will be on display on the ground floor from 8th - 29th April 2023 at Studio 40, Neath. Please check out Payne’s work by visiting his website here.

Alongside Payne, Angie Hughes will also be exhibiting in April in the Cwtch Studio on the ground floor.

Art and Literature Festival 2023

We’ll be hosting a meeting on 29th March, 4pm at Studio 40 to further discuss the Neath Art and Literature Festival 2023. If you’re interested in being part of the team who manage and organise the upcoming event, please contact the gallery if you would like to come along. We can guarantee there will be free tea, coffee and biscuits and a welcoming team to discuss your ideas with.

Our sincere apologies to Katheryn Moore and Gustavius Payne, for the typos in the previous copy of this newsletter!

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