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Oriel Wrecsam - Exhibitions

Oriel Wrecsam has a commitment to promoting Welshness through exhibitions of contemporary visual and applied arts, while also enriching the local arts environment by inviting first class practitioners to work with us on a variety of projects.

As we enter a period of peripatetic project making, we have offsite plans that will see our Siop//Shop become a focus for our stranded project programme. Over the next couple of years these projects will see the town become our gallery space.

The following will keep you informed of what is currently on show in our galleries as well as what we have coming up.

Border Country
by Joan Baker, Charles Burton, John Elwyn and Bert Isaac

Exhibition dates: 13th August – 3rd September

Four artist contemporaries of the writer Raymond Williams whose paintings conjure daily life in South Wales communities from the 1930s to the 1950s.

The inspiration for this special exhibition is Border Country, the autobiographical novel set in and around Abergavenny by Raymond Williams (1921-1988), first published in 1960. The ‘border’ refers to the conjunction of England and Wales, but boundaries iterate throughout the book’s characterisation of south Wales around the middle of the twentieth century:

This exhibition, curated by Dr Peter Wakelin, arrives directly from the National Eisteddfod of Wales in Abergavenny and continues on tour to MoMA Machynlleth.

In Conversation with Peter Wakelin and Arts Manager, Steffan Jones-Hughes.

2nd September 2016

The artists

Raymond Williams sought through his life’s work to show how the spirit of each age filtered into all cultural forms. The exhibition focuses on four painters who were contemporaries of Williams and shared many aspects of his background and experience – Joan Baker, Charles Burton, John Elwyn and Bert Isaac. These artists’ work similarly reflects the reality of daily life in south Wales and the distinctive period represented by Border Country. Together their work draws out contrasts and transitions that are highly relevant to a Monmouthshire Eisteddfod and to cultural challenges in the present. As a special exhibition of a coherent group of historical works the exhibition will contrast with and complement the open submission show.

Like Williams, all four artists came from south Wales and were the first in their families to cross the intellectual border into higher education, eventually becoming lecturers. Like his novel, they described daily life and surroundings through observation and memory of the period from around 1930 to 1960.

Piecework by James Ackerley

Exhibition dates: 16th September - 22nd October

For Piecework, the fifth exhibition in Oriel Wrecsam’s PERICLO series, James Ackerley will present an installation as a twisted yet refined paradigm of his studio. Ackerley’s meticulous process-led practice will come to the fore in this enlightening display-cum-physical catalogue. His recent work puts a strong emphasis on the studio as a place of making, taking-apart and reassembling. Using a narrow palette of inexpensive, malleable materials, he makes small scale object-based works as a method of exploring the fundamental principles of art making and studio-practice, whilst also drawing elements from design and architecture. The exhibition timeline will be separated into three increments, reflecting the very modular and incomplete nature of Ackerley’s work.

James Ackerley (b. Wrexham, 1990) is a Manchester-based artist, who previously studied at Coleg Cambria, Wrexham, and Manchester Metropolitan University. He currently holds a studio at Bankley Studios, Manchester.

Recent exhibitions include: ‘One o’ Those’ at 9 Valerie Walk, Manchester; ‘The Manchester Pavilion with TOAST’, Warrington Contemporary, Warrington; ‘The Frictionless World’, TOAST, Manchester; ‘The Centre for the Imagination’, Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester; and ‘Putt Putt #2’, Turf Projects, Croydon.

PERICLO is a platform for risk and experimentation in contemporary visual art. During Oriel Wrecsam's transitional period - moving from its home of over 40 years at Wrexham Library to an exciting new cultural development in Wrexham People's Market which will open in 2018 - PERICLO forms one exhibition strand with other peripatetic projects taking place across the town centre and beyond.

Public Art commission by Jonny Hannah

Oriel Wrecsam have commissioned illustrator Jonny Hannah to produce an unique artwork that will wrap the entire exterior Siop//Shop and the adjacent workshop space.

The new work, in Jonny’s distinctive style, will illustrate Wrexham’s cultural, industrial and agricultural heritage whilst creating an attractive and instantly recognisable exterior for Oriel Wrecsam’s semi-permanent home on Chester Street.

The unveiling of this commission marks the start of a new way of working for Oriel Wrecsam as we enter a period of peripatetic exhibition and project making which will see Wrexham town centre become Oriel Wrecsam’s temporary gallery. This period will last for between two and three years in the lead up to the opening of a new and exciting cultural hub in Wrexham.

Jonny Hannah will be continuing his relationship with Oriel Wrecsam having previously exhibited as part of ‘A Child’s Christmas In Wales’ in 2014.

Jonny grew up in Dunfermline & studied at the Cowdenbeath College of Knowledge, Liverpool Art School & then the Royal College of Art. For the last seventeen years he has been a freelance illustrator, & is represented by the Heart Agency in London & New York. His many clients include The Sunday Telegraph, The New York Times & The St. Kilda Courier.

He happily lives in Southampton, with Sharon & their two bairns, & teaches on the BA Illustration course at Southampton Solent School of Art & Design. His studio has now returned to his back garden, in the loveliest of sheds, now HQ to the ‘Cakes & Ale Press’, a cottage industry publishing books, prints, posters, teatowels & badges.

Merrell books published a rather lovely book all about Jonny & his junk, last year. It’s called ‘Greeting from Darktown” & every home should have one.

Grip Fast & Defy Mediocrity.

Printmaker in Focus

Printmaker in Focus Exhibitions will be in our temporary home, SIOP//SHOP, on Chester Street. These printmaking showcases will provide a focus for regular exhibition visitors and include work by some of the best artists working in this field.

Robin MacFarlan

Robin MacFarlan was born in 1946 and studied fine art, painting, at Somerset College of Art and Norwich College of Art in the sixties.  He subsequently worked as a freelance illustrator with a wide variety of clients that included the Financial Times, the Guardian and the Times Supplements.

The development of his own ideas as an artist/printmaker however was always paramount and a growing interest in etching prompted further study at Brighton Polytechnic, Putney School of Art and as a member of Artichoke Printworkshop in London.  In 2003 he was elected an Associate of the Royal Society of Painter/Printmakers.