Inspirational designer Gethin weaves his magic with new studio opening

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An “inspirational” young textile designer and printmaker is gearing up for his first solo exhibition.

Gethin Ceidiog Hughes, from Denbigh, has been awarded a £5,000 training and development grant from the Arts Council of Wales to create a new body of work.

As a result, Gethin is moving into a residency studio at Ruthin Craft Centre where he will be based until the New Year when he will be staging the studio exhibition.

It will document Gethin’s journey to create authentic, traditionally woven scarves inspired by Russian avant-garde artist and theorist Kazimir Malevich. Also, on show will be his award-winning prints.

His studio will be open to visit throughout the weekend of September 7 and 8.

It is the latest achievement for the former Ysgol Glan Clwyd pupil, who only launched his design business two years ago. His scarves are already on sale in the craft centre’s retail gallery.

The move marks a major step for the multi-talented 27-year-old who is also an accomplished photographer.

Last year he won the Eirian Llwyd Memorial Award honouring Welsh artists who have shown outstanding dedication and creative talent in their field of printmaking.

Eirian Llwyd, the wife of former Plaid Cymru leader and Deputy First Minister of Wales Ieuan Wyn Jones, was a distinguished printmaker and founder of Y Lle Print Gwreiddiol – The Original Print Place – on Anglesey.

Following her death at the age of 63 in 2014, her family and the Arts Council of Wales set up a memorial trust in her name to provide financial awards for new and upcoming Welsh artists who specialise in the medium of printmaking.

Gethin, who studied product design at the famous Cardiff School of Art and Design before completing an MA in Art and Design, already counts a number of high-end boutiques and shops across Wales and the North West among the stockists of his hand-woven silk scarves, which he markets under the brand Wilding, which is his mother’s middle name.

Gethin said: “I am delighted to have this opportunity to showcase my textile and print work at such a prestigious venue.

“I am grateful to Ruthin Craft Centre and the Arts Council for all their support and advice which has been invaluable.

“The funding will help cover the materials and costs to produce new work, giving people the opportunity to see what I do and really engage with it.”

After university, Gethin won a prestigious placement as part of the Proof Scholarship scheme at the Regional Print Centre, which is part of Coleg Cambria in Wrexham.

Later, he turned to a traditional silk weaving mill in West Yorkshire, to weave his first collection of scarves on traditional shuttle looms, using raw silk from Japan and Italy.

The collection comprises six designs on the same theme of black and white squares inspired by Malevich’s iconic 1915 painting Black Square.

Gethin’s fascination with the radical artist began at university where he was drawn to his invention of suprematism, a dynamic visual language comprising geometric shapes and abstract structures.

The style has strongly influenced Gethin’s work but alongside aesthetics, high-quality materials and craftsmanship are equally important to him.

“My aim is to create legacy pieces which have artistic integrity at their heart.

“It’s a very specialist area and for me it’s about making the best possible work. Every garment I make is woven, washed and finished by hand.

“The silk is washed in organic soap and I don’t use man-made materials, chemicals or plastics. The finishing and washing stage takes four days by hand – you’re talking about a very long process with many different stages.”

“I’m particularly proud to be working in partnership with Philip Hughes from the Craft Centre who I’ve known for some years. He has been really supportive with what I wanted to achieve and has helped me go about it.

“The craft centre has not only stocked my scarves but it’s also helped me take consistent steps to building strong foundations as an artist.”

Philip Hughes, the director of Ruthin Craft Centre, said: “Gethin has been an artist in residence here for a while now and being able to produce more work as part of the Arts Council grant is great.

“He is a very talented young man who I previously nominated for the Eirian Llwyd Memorial Award. It’s great to see his weaving work which he has been developing over a number of years.

“Gethin has a real understanding of the materiality and tactile qualities of what he’s producing and will develop a fantastic range of scarves which are both wearable and desirable.

“Alongside the studio exhibition, we also plan to host a retail gallery showcase of the new collection in the New Year.”

Iolo Williams, development officer for the Arts Council of Wales, added: “Arts Council of Wales is delighted to support Gethin Ceidiog Hughes, a rural-based Welsh language contemporary young artist/designer focusing on textile and cross art-form practice that makes him quite unique.

“His residency and production project, culminating in a studio exhibition at Ruthin Craft Centre, promises strong creative concepts and inspirational work that build skills and his reputation upon recent arts awards.”

For more information about Gethin and his work go to www.wilding.store