The biggest open studios event in Wales has begun with over 400 artists in 180 studios, residencies and galleries allowing visitors a chance to view this normally hidden world. Celebrating ‘10 Years’, the event has become a month-long festival of art with exhibitions, residencies and special projects across the counties of Gwynedd, Conwy, Flintshire, Denbighshire and Wrexham in September.
Residency projects include: Helfa Gelf Fach @ Galeri in partnership with Criw Celf in Caernarfon; Haus of Helfa @ Llawn03, launching 18 September in Llandudno and Helfa Gelf @ Canolfan Grefftau Ruthin every weekend during the event.
“The brief ‘What is Craft?’ is the theme for this year’s residency project at Canolfan Grefftau, in Ruthin. Artists were asked to collaborate and investigate the theme. I was thrilled to have my joint project with Carol Bartlett accepted. We will be investigating the Craft Centre building, a very interesting location. We can show visitors our work and then show them our source material and inspiration. Our studio location is in a very rural location, in Gwynedd, and we will be opening our studio at the end of September. So it is great to be based at Canolfan Grefftau, in Denbighshire, for the beginning of the event,” says Linda Caswell, artist in ceramics.
Linda, a potter, and Carol, a tapestry weaver, will be based at the Canolfan Grefftau, in Ruthin, from Friday 4 September. Their working practices cross the boundaries of craft and art: two disciplines that require both craft skills and artistic design to produce items to be looked at and appreciated without being useful. They will be working on a joint theme using the same inspirational sources but exploring them in their own materials. From Friday 18 September, Sian Hughes and Sue King will be taking over the residency at the Canolfan Grefftau. Sian uses the Cyanotype process to create installations with found and discarded materials. Sue King is a ceramic artist whose exploration of clay has led to her current work with sculptural forms.
“The growth in Helfa Gelf over the 10 years has been incredible. The exhibitions and residencies have become a big part of this year’s event. I feel these are the biggest benefits of Helfa Gelf: the exciting exhibition opportunities it has brought me and the chance to collaborate and network with fellow artists,” says Su Walls, artist, printmaker, illustrator and mixed media.
Helfa Gelf ‘10 Years’, has arranged a number of exciting exhibitions across North Wales, including: Oriel Pendeitsh, opening 5 September in Caernarfon; Undegun, opening 5 September in Wrexham; Mostyn Caffi Celf in partnership with Mostyn, hosts artists work thorough out the year, in Llandudno; and Art in Hospitals in partnership with Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board. Other projects include the Helfa Gelf Art Vend in partnership with Oriel Wrecsam, in Wrexham.
“Helfa Gelf is a great opportunity for visitors to see how I work. I use colour in clay and turn a 2D pattern into something that is 3D. Working on a special residency project at Canolfan Grefftau and opening my studio allows me to show how I work and reveal the process. Visitors can come without making an appointment and I can offer them a chance to have a go,” says Linda.
Studios are open from 11am to 5 pm, with occasional late evening opening every Friday, Saturday and Sunday throughout September 2015. More information, images of artwork and information about the studios can be found online at www.helfagelf.co.uk and in the widely distributed Guide.
Funding has made the residencies, the exhibition programme, the publication of the Helfa Gelf Art Trail guide, the website www.helfagelf.co.uk and the wider promotion of the event possible. The Helfa Gelf Art Trail project has received funding through the Arts Council Wales and through the local authorities across North Wales.
“Everyone is welcome to visit a studio or go and see our work in one of the exhibitions or visit a residency. Helfa Gelf is a fantastic way to discover art and meet the artist who made it. Over the four weekends in September, you can experience how Helfa Gelf nurtures and promotes art across our region,” says Tara Dean, artist, printmaker and illustrator.
There are 179 locations to visit, located in every imaginable kind of venue from garden sheds to galleries. If you want to find out what artists get up to in their studios, you want to buy some art direct from the makers or you are just curious, there is lots of art to see and experience in September in North Wales.
Image: Anglesey Elvis
Gareth Brindle Jones, film and painting based at Uned Creu, Yr Iard, Parc Glynllifon, near Caernarfon