The Sombre Enemies

A long time before any prams would crowd any halls, I first came across Angharad’s work in a project in 1999. We were both in similar circles at the start of our art careers, having returned to Wales with a wave of new Welsh music as our soundtrack.

She was in a group show at a disused house in Cardiff. Most of the artists made slight interventions or performances. Angharad chose the bathroom – an inauspicious starting point maybe, but she made a site-specific intervention that has stayed with me ever since. The white, generic six-inch tiles of the walls had been extended onto two custom fitted blocks either side, stopping just short of head height. The only path into the room was a narrow and angled walkway reminiscent of Richard Wilson’s 20:50, all that was visible was the heads of visitors above a sea of white reflective tiles. Not long after this I came across her work again at a show in the basement of Longstaff House in Cardiff, now demolished to make way for Callaghan Square. Here, there were steel scaffold structures spilling down from the street level windows above, but the poles were covered in flock wallpaper, an industrial ‘staple’ that now wore a decorative baroque overcoat. The third show at that time featured a triptych on a massive scale; upholstery foam squeezed by huge bolts, golden anvils and the cheeky introduction of a tits ’n’ teeth workshop calendar.

In these early works some of the recurring motifs of her practice had their debut. A link with the home – in particular DIY interiors, a habit of channelling audiences into and through awkward spaces, and a fearless use of heavy industrial methods of fabrication and production combined with, or dressed as domesticity. This is her alphabet, the language of her work.

Add to all of this a conscious disregard of notions of good taste which, to use another Connolly quote, “...always implies an insolent dismissal of other people's." The girly calendar was to re-appear in a later work Who Wins, You Decide and there was some pleasure in watching art audiences’ discomfort, not with nudity, but with this female nude, oiled and pouting. It was accurately done, Angharad had seen these calendars in workshops and suppliers, borrowed the format, re-presenting it to an audience who were clearly unsure what their position should be when the male gaze is imitated, appropriated by a female artist.

Some would fall back on the oversimplified dichotomy of genders, equating the industrial metalwork with masculine and the domestic with feminine – but as with the calendar, Angharad builds a much more complicated and sophisticated dialogue between the two. There is no fixed position here, and no shorthand summary. There has been much written about the overlooked, forgotten or discovered female artist who has been toiling away in relative obscurity, but Angharad has been consistently producing and showing. She does not court the artworld, but consistent production and a steady exploration of ideas has meant that her work has slowly evolved, shifting to mirror different parts of her life. This isn’t about a female artist working in territories that have historically been linked with male workforces; rather, it is a direct reflection of the life of the artist. She is not an outsider to functional industrial processes, her living is made from them, and the workshop environment is as much an influence as the agricultural place she is in, her home or the aisles of B&Q. This is not a borrowed feminist critique on the male/ female division of labour (though that is still a valid debate), it is the work of an artist who is a white-van-(wo)man, a steel fabricator and a maker and a mother. It is the work of a sculptor.

I visited Angharad’s studio in West Wales. It is part family home, part workshop for the production of commissions and industrial jobs, and squeezed in all the gaps between these two commitments is her studio. It’s not a place that she can go to shut out the world, it is where she goes during those borrowed moments when one thing ends and the other begins. The fluidity between her commitments, from fabricating a gate to making the work for the latest exhibition is evident. On the table in front of us is a metal curve that will be the gate – a commissioned, made to order, functional thing – and on the table behind that is a metal curve that will form part of an oversized pram. At that time I saw the jigsaw of pieces that would produce the work, a model that was being scaled up and thought how strange it was to start to write about something that was still being brought into existence and in flux. I could only imagine it, in the cold air of the workshop. Then seeing the work for the first time in the gallery – the steel of the pram and the painted pillars that form the corridor – adds something new. The scale, weight and monumentality makes me feel small.

Painted metalwork always takes me back to the parks of my youth. Filled with rough tarmac and broken glass, they were a catch-all for any child from toddler to teens. Of course everything felt oversized then, but playgrounds were made up of semi-industrial steel constructions built for play. We pushed these ‘sculptures’ to their limit, swung them as hard as we could and rocked and shook them with all of our puny strength. Bolted and engineered swings, the Witch’s Hat, the Horse, a tall slide with a metal cage at the top – all now banned or obsolete. Metal constructions, albeit painted to soften their appearance, but below that coating of thick gloss was cold, hand-numbing steel.

Her work brings this to mind – the materials are often the same, and a recent piece, This Way Please, manoeuvred the gallery goers like sheep (or children) through its maze-like, painted-steel structure. Viewed in a gallery there is an interesting conflict here. When we consider sculptors working with metal we might think of Serra, Judd or Caro – minimalist, formally structured works where the material is allowed to rust, to display its heft and weight and strength. While Angharad does all of this we also get powder coated steel, wallpapered structures and paint; we are allowed to touch, play and interact. There is an understanding of her lineage, but a disregard for any gallery conventions and an acknowledgement that her work takes its starting point not solely from the accepted and understood notions of art, but also from the differentiated world of influences that we inhabit.

This fluidity of ideas was reflected in our conversation that day: we talked about the work, talked art, gossip, the rugby, industrial magnets, her family, bringing back traditional gate latches, teaching – this dialogue seemed an accurate reflection of what was happening in the work. We are a product of our time, it all exists simultaneously. To borrow from Martin Creed, Work No. 232: the whole world + the work = the whole world.

The pram in the hallway won’t be there for long; her family is fast growing up. But there will always be something in the hallway and perhaps it’s whether we look at what is beyond it – everything changes.

Anthony Shapland, Artist and Curator, g39. February 2015


Y Gelynion Tywyll

Erstalwm, cyn i unrhyw bram feddiannu unrhyw gyntedd, deuthum ar draws gwaith Angharad am y tro cyntaf mewn prosiect yn 1999. Roedden ni’n dau mewn cylchoedd tebyg ar ddechrau ein gyrfaoedd ym myd celf, wedi dychwelyd i Gymru i gyfeiliant ton newydd o gerddoriaeth Gymreig.

Roedd hi mewn sioe grŵp mewn tŷ gwag yng Nghaerdydd. Perfformiadau neu ymyriadau bychain oedd gan y rhan fwyaf o’r artistiaid. Dewisodd Angharad y tŷ-bach – man cychwyn nad oedd yn argoeli’n dda, efallai, ond fe wnaeth hi ymyriad safle-benodol sydd wedi aros gyda mi byth ers hynny. Roedd teils chwe modfedd cyffredin gwyn y waliau wedi’u hymestyn ar ddau floc oedd wedi’u gosod yn bwrpasol ar y naill ochr a’r llall, bron iawn cyn uched â’ch pen. Yr unig ffordd i mewn i’r ystafell oedd trwy lwybr cul ac onglog oedd yn dwyn i gof waith Richard Wilson, 20:50; y cwbl oedd i’w weld oedd pennau ymwelwyr uwchben môr o deils adlewyrchol gwyn. Ychydig wedi hyn fe ddes i ar draws ei gwaith eto mewn sioe yn islawr Longstaff House yng Nghaerdydd, sydd bellach wedi’i ddymchwel i wneud lle i Sgwâr Callaghan. Yma, roedd adeileddau o sgaffaldiau dur yn arllwys i lawr o’r ffenestri ar lefel y stryd uwchben, ond roedd y polion wedi’u gorchuddio â phapur wal ffloc: defnydd crai diwydiannol a oedd bellach yn gwisgo cot fawr addurniadol mewn arddull baróc. Nodwedd arbennig y drydedd sioe yn y cyfnod hwnnw oedd triptych enfawr o sbwng clustogwaith wedi’i wasgu gan folltau anferth, eingionau euraidd a merch fronnoeth ddigywilydd ar galendr gweithdy.

Yn y gweithiau cynnar hyn gwelwyd ymddangosiad cyntaf rhai motiffau sy’n dod yn ôl dro ar ôl tro yn ei gwaith. Cysylltiad â’r cartref – yn enwedig ystafelloedd mewnol o waith DIY, arferiad o sianelu cynulleidfaoedd i mewn i lefydd lletchwith a thrwyddynt, a defnydd eofn o ddulliau creu a chynhyrchu diwydiannol trwm wedi’u cyfuno â, neu eu gwisgo yng ngwisg bywyd y cartref. Dyma’i chystrawen; dyma iaith ei gwaith.

At hyn i gyd gallwn ychwanegu ei bod yn ymwybodol ddifater ynghylch syniadau am chwaeth, sydd, a defnyddio dyfyniad arall gan Connolly, “...bob amser yn awgrymu bod chwaeth pobl eraill yn rhywbeth i wfftio ato.” Byddai’r calendr genod bronnoeth yn ailymddangos mewn gwaith diweddarach, Pa Ferch? Dewiswch Chi, ac roedd mwynhad i’w gael o wylio anesmwythder cynulleidfaoedd celf, nid gyda noethni, ond gyda’r ferch noeth hon, a’i chorff olewog a’i gwefusau awgrymog. Roedd yn ddarlun cywir; roedd Angharad wedi gweld y calendrau hyn mewn gweithdai a siopau cyflenwyr, wedi benthyg y fformat, a’i ailgyflwyno i gynulleidfa a oedd yn amlwg yn ansicr beth ddylai eu safbwynt fod pan gaiff edrychiad y gwryw ei feddiannu gan artist benywaidd.

Byddai rhai’n disgyn yn ôl ar ddeuoliaeth or-syml y ddau ryw, gan gysylltu’r gwaith metel diwydiannol â’r gwrywaidd a’r cartrefol â’r benywaidd – ond fel gyda’r calendr, mae Angharad yn adeiladu deialog lawer mwy cymhleth a soffistigedig rhwng y ddau. Does dim safbwynt osodedig yma, na dim crynodeb cyfleus. Mae erthyglau lu wedi’u hysgrifennu am yr artist benywaidd a ddiystyriwyd, a anghofiwyd neu a ddarganfuwyd, a hithau wedi bod yn llafurio wrth ei gwaith yn gymharol ddi-nod, ond mae Angharad wedi cynhyrchu ac arddangos yn rheolaidd. Dydi hi ddim yn ceisio cymeradwyaeth y byd celf, ond wrth iddi gynhyrchu’n rheolaidd ac archwilio syniadau’n gyson mae ei gwaith wedi esblygu’n araf, gan ddatblygu i fod yn ddrych ar wahanol rannau o’i bywyd. Nid mater yw hyn o artist benywaidd yn gweithio mewn tiriogaethau a fu’n hanesyddol gysylltiedig â gweithluoedd gwrywaidd; yn hytrach, mae’n adlewyrchiad uniongyrchol o fywyd yr artist. Nid dod at brosesau diwydiannol swyddogaethol o’r tu allan a wna; mae hi’n gwneud ei bywoliaeth ohonynt, ac mae amgylchedd y gweithdy’n gymaint o ddylanwad â’r lle amaethyddol y mae hi ynddo, ei chartref neu eiliau B&Q. Nid ymdriniaeth ffeministaidd fenthyg yw hon ar raniad gwaith rhwng gwrywod a benywod (er mor ddilys yw’r ddadl honno o hyd). Yr hyn sydd yma yw gwaith artist sy’n ddyn(es) fan wen, yn weithiwr dur ac yn wneuthurwr ac yn fam. Gwaith cerflunydd ydyw.

Ymwelais â stiwdio Angharad yn y Gorllewin. Mae’n gartref teulu ac yn weithdy ar gyfer cynhyrchu gwaith comisiwn a diwydiannol, ac mae ei stiwdio wedi’i gwasgu i bob bwlch rhwng y ddau ymrwymiad hyn. Nid lle y gall hi fynd iddo i gau’r byd allan mohono, ond lle y gall hi fynd iddo yn ystod y munudau benthyg hynny rhwng pen draw un peth a dechrau peth arall. Mae’r anwadalwch rhwng ei hymrwymiadau, o lunio giât i wneud y gwaith ar gyfer yr arddangosfa ddiweddaraf, yn amlwg. Ar y bwrdd o’n blaen mae cromlin fetel a fydd yn ffurfio’r giât – peth swyddogaethol, ar gomisiwn, wedi’i wneud ar archeb – a thu ôl i hwnnw ar y bwrdd mae cromlin fetel a fydd yn ffurfio rhan o bram enfawr. Dyna pryd y gwelais i jig-so’r darnau a fyddai’n ffurfio’r gwaith, model a fyddai’n cael ei adeiladu ar raddfa fawr, a meddyliais mor rhyfedd oedd dechrau ysgrifennu am rywbeth oedd yn dal i gael ei ddwyn i fodolaeth ac mewn sefyllfa amhendant. Dim ond dychmygu’r peth fedrwn i, yn aer oer y gweithdy. Wedyn mae gweld y gwaith am y tro cyntaf yn yr oriel – dur y pram a’r pileri paentiedig sy’n ffurfio’r coridor – yn ychwanegu rhywbeth newydd. Mae maint, pwysau ac anferthedd y gwaith yn gwneud imi deimlo’n fychan.

Bydd gwaith metel wedi’i beintio bob amser yn mynd â mi’n ôl i barciau chwarae fy ieuenctid. Yn llawn tarmac garw a malurion gwydr, roedden nhw’n cynnig rhywbeth i bob plentyn, o’r plant bach i’r arddegau. Wrth gwrs roedd popeth yn teimlo’n fawr bryd hynny, ond roedd parciau chwarae wedi’u gwneud o adeileddau dur lled-ddiwydiannol a grëwyd ar gyfer chwarae plant. Byddem yn gwthio’r ‘cerfluniau’ hyn hyd eu heithaf, yn eu siglo mor galed ag y gallem ac yn eu hysgwyd â’n holl nerth pitw. Siglenni wedi’u peiriannu a’u bolltio, Het y Wrach, y Ceffyl, llithren uchel â chawell fetel ar y top – mae’r rhain i gyd bellach wedi’u gwahardd neu wedi diflannu. Adeileddau metel, er eu bod wedi’u peintio i roi gwedd feddalach iddynt, ond o dan y paent sgleiniog trwchus hwnnw roedd dur digon oer i rewi’r dwylo.

Mae ei gwaith yn dwyn hyn i gof – mae’r defnyddiau’n aml yr un fath, ac mewn darn diweddar, Ffordd Yma Plîs, cafodd mynychwyr yr oriel eu hel fel defaid (neu blant) drwy’r ddrysfa o adeileddau dur paentiedig. O weld y gwaith mewn oriel, ceir gwrthdaro diddorol yma. Pan ystyriwn gerflunwyr sy’n gweithio gyda metel gallem feddwl am Serra, Judd neu Caro – gweithiau minimalaidd, â strwythur ffurfiol, lle caniateir i’r defnydd rydu, gan ddangos ei bwysau a’i gryfder. Tra bod Angharad yn gwneud hyn i gyd, cawn hefyd ddur dan got o bowdr, adeileddau dan bapur wal a phaent; caniateir inni gyffwrdd, chwarae a rhyngweithio. Mae yma ddealltwriaeth o’i llinach, ond diystyrir unrhyw gonfensiynau sy’n perthyn i’r oriel a chydnabyddir bod ei gwaith yn cymryd ei fan cychwyn nid yn unig o’r syniadau a dderbynnir ac a ddeellir am gelf, ond hefyd o’r byd o wahanol ddylanwadau yr ydym yn byw ynddo.

Adlewyrchwyd yr amrywiaeth syniadau hyn yn ein sgwrs y diwrnod hwnnw: fe siaradon ni am y gwaith, am gelf, y clecs diweddaraf, y rygbi, magnetau diwydiannol, ei theulu, dod â chliciedi giatiau traddodiadol yn ôl, dysgu – ymddangosai’r ddeialog hon yn adlewyrchiad cywir o’r hyn oedd yn digwydd yn y gwaith. Cynnyrch ein hoes ydyn ni, mae popeth yn cyd-fodoli ar yr un pryd. A dyfynnu Martin Creed, Work No. 232: the whole world + the work = the whole world.

Fydd y pram yn y cyntedd ddim yno’n hir; mae ei theulu’n tyfu i fyny’n gyflym. Ond bydd wastad rhywbeth yn y cyntedd, ac efallai mai’r cwestiwn yw a edrychwn ni ar beth sydd y tu hwnt iddo – mae pob dim yn newid.


Anthony Shapland, Artist a Churadur, g39. Chwefror 2015





"There is no more sombre enemy of good art than the pram in the hall." Cyril Connolly – writer and literary critic

Angharad Pearce Jones challenges Cyril Connolly’s infamous quote by fabricating the sculptural form of an outsized, three wheeler buggy in a hallway of steel columns. Inspired by the interior aesthetics of her steel stockholder and her own experience of being a working Mother of three. Angharad’s industrial pram is over burdened with the detritus of industry and Motherhood combined. Plastic toys, crocs, outdated mobile phones and football boots are embedded in the waste product from Dyfed Steel’s giant plasma cutters.

The Pram in the Hall was funded by an Arts Council of Wales production grant.

Lluniau / Photography: Betina Skovbro

Lleoliad / Location: Oriel Myrddin Gallery, Caerfyrddin / Carmarthen


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