Tag Archives: art

Feature Drawing coming to a blog near you!

Here at Mission Gallery we have decided to move our ever popular Feature Drawing activity onto here!

In the gallery you will find a clip board where you can create your master piece as usual. Once complete, you can hand it in at the front desk. The drawing will then be photographed and posted alongside others in a blog post as well as one lucky young artist being selected as the months Feature Drawing Winner, to be framed and displayed in the gallery.



Ephemeral Coast | Fern Thomas



Fern Thomas is based out of Swansea, Wales, UK. Rooted in the processes and principles of Social Sculpture, her work explores the potency and transformational capacities of the image in its broadest sense and interrogates her relationship with the ecological, archetypal, and mythological world. Manifesting in action – live or documented – her process-led and intuitive explorations often take the form of a physical interaction or ‘meeting’ between herself and a place, a dream, a history or another being.


Thomas is the winner of Mostyn Open (2011), was a recipient of the Arts and Humanities Research Council Award (2011/2012), was awarded the Interdisciplinary Arts Prize (2013) at Oxford Brookes University for her work during her Masters in Social Sculpture, and received a Creative Wales Award in 2014 to support her ongoing research into participatory forms and their relationship with sustainability. Thomas received her MA in Social Sculpture from Oxford Brookes University, working with Shelley Sacks, where she developed the post-apocalyptic research unit Institute for Imagined Futures & Unknown Lands.

She co-initiated the collaborative and pedagogical groups Art’s Birthday Wales and Forever Academy, works closely with her key collaborator Owen Griffiths, and is a member of the Social Sculpture Research Unit based in Oxford, UK.


From the Watchtower


The Sea and We;

A love affair

A catastrophe…


From the Watchtower will see the transformation of citizen into learner/observer into active participant. Expanding on a woman’s daily practice of watching the sea from her top floor flat overlooking Swansea Bay, the Watchtower will be activated by the use of a high stool by the window to sit on and the day-long focus and observation (sometimes with binoculars, sometimes without) of the sea.

Across several weeks full days will be dedicated to the act of observing the sea. This act of considered mindfulness will attempt to focus on the sea only, without distraction, holding the image of, and also ‘being with’, the sea. This will provide the space to notice the shifting tides, the changing colours of the sea and also things about the sea which the woman does not yet understand.

At the end of each day observations and thoughts will be transformed into a spoken word / sonic interpretation of the day which will then be made available on the online From the Watchtower Radio Station.

Although in essence a lonely process, with connotations of a future world where a person sits looking at the sea for something yet unknown, this research will extend to include other women who live on the same hill. They will be invited to contribute their thoughts and experiences of having a daily relationship with this body of water visible from their homes.  Pre-established contact with others who have a relationship with the sea such as academics working with climatic change and oceanography at Swansea University will form a bank of expertise to call upon at appropriate times during the process (forms of contact and evidence of dialogue to be confirmed).

There will be a resulting sound archive available online as part of the radio station and a small publication will also act a document of the process. This will be printed by Like Lichen a small handmade publishing press and will be the first publication by this press.

Ephemeral Coast | Stefhan Caddick


Artist Statement

I am interested in the savagery of the natural world, misremembered episodes from political history, the three-minute single and not knowing the way. My work, whilst taking a range of forms from film to installation, drawing to performance, is unified by an intellectual and aesthetic rigour. I approach the act of making work with an interest in the process itself and will sometimes invent ornate, often ridiculous systems or methodologies as a mode of production. My work is at once darkly melancholic and blackly comedic.


Brief Bio

Stefhan Caddick is a Wales-based artist who works in video, installation and performance.  His practice is often a collaborative engagement that sources its materials from institutions, communities and individuals. With an interest in process itself, Caddick invents ornate systems of production that are both melancholic and comedic. He is the recent recipient of the Major Creative Wales Award from the Art Council of Wales (2013), and has been commissioned for various artistic projects including Pickle Lane (2013) at the Fourth Wall Festival, Ghost Parade (2012) at the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad Festival and The Magician’s Cat (2004) at the Welsh National Opera. Caddick is currently a visiting lecturer in Creative Sound and Music at the University of Wales College, where he also earned his MA in Documentary Photography.

Drowned World

“The low night sounds of the jungle drifted over the water; occasionally a marmoset gibbered or the iguanas shrieked distantly from their eyries in the distant office blocks. Myriads of insects festered along the water-line, momentarily disturbed as the swells rolled in … slapping at the canted sides of the pontoon” JG Ballard, ‘The Drowned World’, 1962

Taking its starting point Ballard’s novel of the same name, Drowned World comprises a functional, scaled down prototype of a junk rigged floating survival craft. The craft sits at the centre of a fictional, faceted environment, reminiscent of early video games.

Like Ballard’s 1962 novel, the installation asks questions about what happens to people when the edge is redrawn; and the enduring allure of natural catastrophe – ‘the-end-is-nigh’-ism – as evident in the biblical flood story as it is in contemporary debates about climate change. It also stumbles into issues about migration and whether there’s a survivalist thread hidden within the contemporary ‘maker’.

Ephemeral Coast is an international, 4-year curatorial research project curated by Celina Jeffery (University of Ottawa,Canada).

Ephemeral Coast | Julia Davis



The primary focus of my research investigates the perceptions of and relationships between places, spaces and human habitation. My questions revolve around how these perceptions underpin our sense of self as well as howlandscape is cultural space – a space formed by and informing culture.

Brief Bio

Julia Davis is a site-specific artist based out of Sydney, Australia. Over the past decade Davis’ work has been installed in salt lakes, deserts, coastal precincts, parklands, galleries and built environments. Her practice explores the perceptions and relationships between objects, places and spaces. More recently, Davis’ work has attended to the viewer’s experiential reading of space in terms of temporality and duration. She has exhibited in Australia, Germany, Italy and Spain, and is the recipient of numerous awards including the NAVA NSW artist grant (2011), the Helen Lempriere National Sculpture Award (2007), the Woollahra Sculpture Prize (2006) and the NGSW Director’s prize (2002). She currently teaches sculpture at TAFE and holds an MVA from Sydney College of Arts.

Consilience: as the world turns, 2013/14, Time-lapse HD video, stereo sound, 07:49 (loop).

Concept/performance: Julia Davis

Camera: Alex Cherney

Compositing: Matt Fezz

Sound: Paul Huntingford, Julia Davis Thanks to NASA for extracts of sound from Voyager 1 & 11’s  first recording of interstellar space and encounter with Saturn 1980.

My work explores the effect of time on understandings of the body in relation to landscape and how this underpins our sense of self and place. I often work in ‘active‘ landscapes such as deserts, volcanic areas, coastal precincts and salt lakes and am interested in the idea that landscape is cultural space – a space informed by and informing culture.

In geological time, the landscape moves, pulses and crashes in processes of coming into and out of existence. The often, violent imagery of turbulent volcanic ash clouds used in recent works translates here in this vast Southern Hemisphere sky which elicits contradictory feelings of foreboding and rapture. Tension between anticipated loss and subsequent renewal, as well as the duality of processes that create and destroy, corrode and protect are ongoing interests in Davis’s art practice. The ‘active’ places she refers to mirror the fragile human experience of movement, instability, rhythm, reflection and change. In my work, geological time and human perception merge into a single spatial experience and take us closer to a sense of the world as our place.

Through this work, I explore what Elizabeth Grosz calls in her book, The Nick of Time, the “brute world of materiality, a world regulated by the exigencies, the forces of space and time.” I question how our immersion in time and place affects both our sense of embodiment and our perception of ourselves. Her installations, videos and prints evoke desire, vulnerability and anxiety; a sense of being poised at the edge of a world that is fraught with man made and natural disaster.

You can also view Julia’s work produced during an IASKA’s residency in Western Australia, SPACED: art out of place, 2010


Ephemeral Coast is an international, 4-year curatorial research project led by Celina Jeffery (University of Ottawa, Canada).

The Mission Gansey | Angela Maddock

Fisherman’s ganseys (or guernseys) are knitted garments usually produced by the wives, sisters, mothers and daughters of fishermen. Common to fishing ports throughout the British Isles, they were most prolific on the east coast, but also indigenous to the Netherlands.

Angela knitting the gallery

Angela teaching a contributor how to knit in Mission Gallery

Ganseys are knit in the round on circular or double pointed needles and are transferred to two needles when the body reaches the arm, at which point the back and front are knit separately. Arms are also knit in the round. Ganseys are essentially seamless, though many will include a mock seam at either side of the body and along the inside of the arms. Gansey patterns are vernacular and there are many. Whilst each gansey has its own distinct pattern for example The Filey or The Flamborough, patterns often share similar motifs, including marriage lines, cables, diamonds, anchors, hearts and pennants.Ganseys often include the initials of the wearer above the front welt and popular myth holds that the patterning of the gansey could identify the bodies of fishermen drowned at sea.

Mission Gallery was formerly a Seaman’s Mission and Swansea has a strong seafaring tradition. Interestingly ganseys are absent from Welsh cultural heritage. What this discovery enabled was the opportunity to create a gansey and I choose to do this for the gallery to acknowledge its past and to celebrate the gallery’s on-going contribution to Swansea’s contemporary culture.

A beginner learning how to knit and adding a few stitches to the gansey

A beginner learning how to knit and adding a few stitches to the gansey

Mission Gansey is concerned as much with communicating the language of knitting as it is with fostering a sense of locale. It seems that some craft traditions, like knit, have the vernacular materially embedded within them and thus potentially contribute to a sense of place or belonging. Within the Mission Gansey project is an attempt to explore how I might articulate the idea of belonging through the design and fabrication of a garment, a long-term ambition is to create a Swansea Gansey in collaboration with the City’s fishing community.

Lasercut Knitting Pattern

Lasercut Knitting Pattern, ‘Co-respondents’ exhibition in Mission Gallery, March 2014

The whole process meant I needed to learn how to chart a knitting pattern, essential to the design of a gansey with its rich and complex combinations of knit and purl. I cannot measure with any accuracy how long it took me to develop a design that was true to the gallery and also ‘worked’. The process was overwhelmingly characterized by a troublesome engagement with maths, which was never my favorite occupation.

If we identify a pattern we assume it has some significance and make an effort to decode it. This is true for gansey designs particularly and explains some of my internal negotiation over the patterns in the Mission Gansey, should they relate to the fabric of the building, or what it stood for? In the end, it features both. Code breakers will spot the three windows of the apse, but also the signs of celebration with which the gallery is also associated. I am hopeful that gallery staff and visitors will contribute to the knitting of the gansey, that you will add your loops and turns to its fabric and contribute to its making.

Angela Maddock designed the gansey pattern for the Co-respondents exhibition at Mission Gallery in March and now you are invited to help Angela knit it up. She needs help with reading the pattern and is also keen for you to share your tales of the sea… bring along objects and photographs to contribute to her on going project and even knit a few stitches into our gansey.

Angela will be in the gallery at certain dates throughout the year following her successful knitting day on Bank Holiday Monday in May. These dates are yet to be confirmed so please check Mission Gallery’s Events page for details in the coming weeks.

Art Walk #1 with Sarah Abbott

It’s the first Art Walk of the year at the Mission Gallery and I am looking forward to getting out into the environment. There is a small niggle inside my head about the weather. It’s been raining all morning but, who cares, it’s booked and ‘we’ or ‘me’ or how ever many people turn up are just going to go for it – well with sketch pads, a pencil case, bulging with just about everything, my Art Handbag! – emulsion paint, camera, finger-less gloves and sweets!

At 12 o’clock, I see a pair of pink wellies at the gallery door. Yes! Some enthusiastic walkers have turned up. Inspired by the current CIVIC exhibition I thought it might be interesting to look at how architecture is placed alongside the natural landscape. How it sits. Where edges merge and meet. We set off and didn’t have to go very far to be inspired.

An urban sculpture reminiscent of Rachel Whiteread’s work.







Heightened colour through drops of rain.Subtle shades of the buildings provide a backdrop for a tree .just in bud ,fresh green for Spring .

Heightened colour through drops of rain. Subtle shades of the buildings provide a backdrop for a tree. Just in bud, fresh green for Spring.

When a group of creative minded people get together things happen!

Finding a spot on the beach provides a good location for some spontaneous sketching.

Quick Ideas


Down on Paper



The Rain Comes

The Observatory provides a bit of shelter as two loyal walkers stay behind with me so I can get just one more sketch done, as the sand blows up filling pencil case, clothes and providing an interesting texture to the art work.

We pack up and head back to the Mission Gallery for a cuppa.


We talk.

Look at the mornings work and share our ideas together.

How can we stay motivated as artists?

How can we meet other creative people?

Our own personal artistic journey and

Work/Art/Life balance


Its been a rewarding exchange for all of us!

In a hot bath

I crunch

On the


Occasional Grain



Art is for Sharing!

Art is for Everyone!


So why not come along to the next Mission Gallery Art Walk held every month.

See the Events page on our website for forthcoming dates.

CIVIC | Curator’s Perspective: Bella Kerr

How did this exhibition come about?

Local architect, Huw Griffiths’ initial idea, suggested to Amanda Roderick, Director of the Mission Gallery, was for an exhibition of a series of architectural models – proposals for the failing spaces of Swansea. Amanda spoke with me about this idea while I was producing Keeper(s), a collaborative and participatory exhibition at the Gallery and asked if I might want to curate* the project. We soon saw that the plan had to be developed further, and in particular directions, to work within the remit of the gallery and to create a valid and exciting response to the city.

Photo credit: Emma Cartwright

Photo credit: Emma Cartwright

Discussion revealed that ‘the problem’ was that we had to locate or identify ‘the problem’  – and that if there was a problem, or problems, they probably didn’t have an answer – but there might be a hope for many answers. And that while some of these might be in the form of practical ‘problem-solving’ – structures and rearrangements of space and objects – other possibilities, such as changes of vision, viewpoint or policy were emerging – ideas that were both broader and less tangible than the comfort of specific project proposals for a particular sites.

We started to understand that wider philosophical or political views might clash with some of the current directions within urban design and planning, such as a focus on simply encouraging business – ‘shopping’ – back into the centre of the city, and the evident intention to eliminate ‘trouble’ by removing the possibility of public use of much of the public space in the centre of Swansea. (A complaint reiterated in initial conversations with possible exhibitors had been that many open areas have now become car parks or are blankly paved and devoid of seating –  and that, cold and wet, they had become not ‘indefensible spaces’, but deserts, ‘defended’ from use, or ‘misuse’ by sheer bleakness.)

Huw Griffiths had introduced his proposal by saying ‘Swansea is s**t’.

So are cities a problem? Is Swansea a problem? Whose problem? Artists and architects are often required to provide ‘solutions’ or to fill the gap between the broader issues of urban planning, economic pressures and ‘the public’. It seemed as if this exhibition could provide the space for debate away from the direct pressure of the ‘project’ and the need for ‘results’.

What happened next?

Amanda Roderick and I approached local artists and architects and found four architects/architectural practices interested in exhibiting, 4 artists – two a collaborative pair – and a writer.

We walked and talked the city together and discovered that walking and talking was a productive method – when we are physically active we think in a different way and find turning left one day instead of right might take us around a corner to a place we had forgotten or never seen.

So – how does change happen? What do we want to change? One idea that emerged as we planned the work for this show is that we change ourselves and others, or change ‘rules’ and perceptions, rather than the fabric of the city. That through creative thinking, through narrative, through drawing, making and asking questions we can change the way we see and use Swansea.

The work started to ask that we consider time, scale and duration – the short span against the permanent, the ephemeral in relation to concrete, brick and stone, cell change in place of the larger project – and that history, often ‘plagiarised’ for the heritage industry, might be considered with the present – that we might see the past emerging in small artefacts, memories and anecdotes to inhabit the same space as the imagined and the now.

The practitioner pairings produced a variety of models for how architects and artists might work together and how their methods and processes diverge and overlap.

Jason and Becky have extended sensory understanding through sound walks and investigated with Niall Maxwell how collaboration might be achieved through social media. Niall Maxwell’s responses through drawing return to the basic common language of artist and architects.

Huw Griffiths and Anna Barratt have met in the most complained of space in Swansea – The Kingsway – to charm and challenge with possibility and poetry.

Owen Griffiths and Andrew Nixon started with the shared concerns of the greening of the city and the re-use of lost spaces and have taken separate but complementary paths to the potential of flat rooftops, guerilla gardening and skateboarding the city.

Lindsey Halton and Catriona Ryan will encourage us to be active participants, to look from our windows and to change how we see what we see, and make poets of us all.

The possibilities that have emerged may dismay, excite, please or bore those who encounter or engage with them.

Could Swansea be a ‘theme park’ devoted to experience not shopping?

Could we remove the traffic from the Kingsway, leaving it to trams and bicycles?

Can we look out of our windows and see the city differently?

Can we all be poets and fill the streets of Dylan Thomas’ city with poetry?

How could we report on Swansea and how might it exist through anecdote, social media or drawing?

Who is already using this city and other cities creatively – what can we learn from them?

Can we find the lost or hidden spaces and use them well?

These ideas are starting points for discussion and permission to dream about what we might want here and to see what we have here already.

‘Table-talks’ across the city will make further discussion visible as panels including the artist and architects meet to talk about the work and the issues around it.

The Show

I have now let go of the project a little – let it lift and grow – working with the Mission Gallery staff and volunteers – especially Deirdre Finnerty, Emma Cartwright and Karen Tobin – to make it happen and gently pat the work into being.

The skill of the designers involved in the project has moved the exhibition to completion.

Design: Jason&Becky

Design: Jason&Becky

Jason&Becky’s Civic logo has provided a unifying and ongoing identity for the project. While their exhibition design, utilizing the distinctive C, has given eloquent shape to the idea of flexible exhibition space, formed to hold the work, to adapt to and with it, and to accommodate and to encourage the collaborative and discursive activity across the seductively tactile central concrete table. Eifion Porter has made the exhibition furniture with a craftsmanship pleasing to both hand and eye.



J&B’s Civic logo has been developed by Matthew Otten and Rhiannon Pepper into laser-cut building tiles – ‘Civic lego’ – for the Play Build Learn space which occupies the upstairs education area of the gallery. The P B L space is a manifestation within the exhibition of open-ended play as an educational possibility – or imperative – for participants of all ages. Terri Saunders’ Civic sandbags and a variety of building materials, gathered in discussion with Kath Clewett and Ian Cook, permit visitors to explore the idea of free construction as way of thinking and learning – to focus on questions about building and the city – or to ‘de-focus’ and work intuitively with 3D forms, structures and compositions. Learning through making and discussion are central to the exhibition’s intentions and the overall remit of the Mission Gallery.

CIVIC Catalogue

CIVIC Catalogue

Matthew Otten’s design for the online/printed material accompanying the exhibition has accommodated the collaborative, improvised approach with a ‘zine –like collection of loose-leaf A4s. A short run has been photocopier printed and clipped together for display and distribution in the gallery, while the online version can be downloaded and printed by individuals. Through online expression the space of the gallery is extended beyond the city, encouraging engagement with a wider audience and development of the project into the future – watch this space…


*What’s a curator to do?

Why does this exhibition have a curator – what does a curator do?

Role: curator, caretaker, carer, keeper, minder, co-ordinator, facilitator, organiser, administrator, middle-manager, cat-herder, nag…

To make what? – an ‘exhibition of ideas’, an essay, or anthology of art works?

But what of form – design – space – the visitor?

I’m looking  for the bridge between some kind of accessibility and current practice –  between the art language of social engagement and engagement itself – somewhere within the haptic, conceptual, physical, participatory, interactive spectacle – where something that can be said – be made – a communication and an experience(s).

Bella Kerr

Bella Kerr