Ceridwen Powell reviews Radical Craft

Outside In asked artist Ceridwen Powell to review Radical Craft at Oriel Davies Gallery.

Radical Craft is a Craftspace and Outside In touring show that will be at Oriel Davies Gallery until 29 August 2016.

‘I was really pleased and excited that Radical Craft was coming to my local gallery, Oriel Davies in Newtown.  The exhibition is big in scope and ambition, with work from the historical perspective of outsider art, and with international artists.  On entering the gallery space, the historical work is viewed first, with work by highly renowned artists such as Judith Scott.  This sets the context and development of outsider art, and shows how outsider artists often work with found materials and whatever materials are available, finding innovative ways to express their creativity.

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Radical Craft at Oriel Davies Gallery. Photo by Hannah Whitlock

As you move into the next gallery space, the work of contemporary artists is on display, both UK artists and international artists.  Many of the works use very intricate methods in materials such as thread, pencils and toothpicks.  The pencil carvings and painted toothpicks slightly defied my middle-aged vision, even with the magnifying glasses supplied, but I could still appreciate the skill and patience that had gone into them.  The variety of the work on show is refreshing, with many different materials and styles used. Much of the work has obsessive qualities, expressing a deep-rooted need to create.

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Works by Michael Smith and Lasmin Salmon. Photo by Hannah Whitlock

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The ‘Radical Missions’ area of the exhibition. Photo by Hannah Whitlock

There is a resource area where there are materials for people to have a go at creating themselves, and there is a screen displaying a slideshow of responses to the open call that didn’t get in, but still have a presence in the exhibition.  It would have been good if some details about the works had been given in the slideshow, such as size and materials used.  Also the screen is quite small and tucked away in a back corner, so I’m sure many people will miss it, it would have been good if the screen were bigger and in a more prominent position, and to have an explanatory paragraph or two about the open call.

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Hands-on activities in the resource area. Photo by Hannah Whitlock

Although there are many different styles, materials and techniques on display, the exhibition hangs together very well.  From the comments on the comments board people have responded very positively to the work and have enjoyed the exhibition, Oriel Davies should definitely show more of this kind of thing, maybe have a show of more local outsider artists.  I very much enjoyed the exhibition and will sum up in the word of another visitor, ‘FABULOUS’.’

To find out more visit http://www.orieldavies.org/en/exhibition/radical-craft-alternative-ways-making

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