The biggest open studios event in Wales coincides with the @ Llawn03 arts festival in Llandudno this weekend when Haus of Helfa, based at 26 Augusta Street, launches on Friday, 18 September.
The Helfa Gelf Art Trail is celebrating ‘10 Years’ and the month-long festival of art now features over 400 artists in open studios, exhibitions and residencies and taking part in special projects. One of these special projects is a two-month residency at Haus of Helfa where 12 artists are producing site-specific installations at a beautiful semi-derelict building in Llandudno.
Haus of Helfa at 26 Augusta Street was ‘Tedder House’, home of the Royal Air Force Association’s ‘RAFA Club’ for many years. The Haus of Helfa is part of Call (Culture Action Llandudno), a Social Enterprise, which is an innovative partnership between Mostyn Estates and Helfa Gelf Cyf.
“This is my third year at Haus of Helfa and my work has been influenced by the location, the building and the other artists around me. I have a large space on the first floor that provides drama and a performance at the weekend. This is the room used by the RAFA Club where bingo was played and this is the basis of my performance,” says Alan Whitfield, artist in digital media, film, installation, performance art and photography.
There are 179 locations to visit during Helfa Gelf, located in every imaginable kind of venue from semi-derelict buildings to galleries. There are a number of residencies and joint exhibitions being held across the region. Locations can be found online at ‘The Art Trail Map’ http://www.helfagelf.co.uk/en/map/.
“Applying for the Haus of Helfa residency this year has given me a deadline, which I use as a catalyst to create new work. The project has allowed me to revisit a student project and look back at old photographs of my Nain and her house. This has pushed me to explore materials and given me the time to think about themes over the course of the residency,” says Rebecca F. Hardy, artist in digital media, drawing, film, installation, mixed media, photography, printmaking and sculpture.
Haus of Helfa contains twelve artists and a resident writer, Remy Dean, based in the ‘Writer’s Bar’. On the left as you enter Haus of Helfa, the ‘Writer’s Bar’ contains a bar counter, tables and chairs that have been reclaimed from the nearby derelict Tudno Castle Hotel.
“When I began my residency at Haus of Helfa, I thought I would be using old floorboards to construct my installation. But I have been influenced by the building and am now using plasterboard; my constructions appear to be a structural part of the building. The residency title ‘Reveal and re:verb’ has allowed me to play with the idea of minimal art and poetry, but using it in a playful manner. I deal with big subjects: life, death and ideology with humour,” says Neil Coombs, artist in digital media, film, installation, photography and books.
Other residency projects include Helfa Gelf @ Canolfan Grefftau Ruthin, Ruthin Craft Centre, with Sian Hughes, cyanotype and mixed media artist, and Sue King, ceramic artist, hosting drop-in sessions on Saturday 19 and 26 from 12 to 4pm.
Funding has made the artists’ residencies, the exhibitions, 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.
Students and tutors, at Coleg Llandrillo, Rhos on Sea are holding a group exhibition on Friday 25 September. Judith Samuel, Susie Liddle, Kathy Cook and Paul Luckock invite you to their studios in an old converted cottage, Ladder Store Studios, John Street in Llandudno. The North Wales Potters’ Cooperative Gallery & Information Centre, in Conwy, contains the work of over seventeen ceramic artists.
Open studios, exhibitions, residencies and special projects are taking place across the counties of Gwynedd, Conwy, Flintshire, Denbighshire and Wrexham in September. Studios are open from 11am to 5pm, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. More information, images of artists’ work, locations and opening times can be found online at www.helfagelf.co.uk.